By the time you read this column, football season will be well underway. While this may come to the dismay of some who aren’t football fans, there can be little doubt that football is truly the great American pastime, whatever baseball fans may say. Whether your passion is the NFL, NCAA, or the strange CFL (Canadian Football League) game we Canucks watch (only when there's no hockey, of course!), every weekend brings on the thrill and anticipation of the big game.

It's All About the Teamwork
Football, more than any other sport, is about teamwork. While modern-day players such as Payton Manning or Michael Vick may be billed as game breakers, the role of the rest of the team, though less heralded, cannot be underestimated. Take the star quarterback as an example. How does he succeed in making those 50-yard touchdown passes? First, he must have a receiving core who has the ability, speed and strength to run the correct route and outsmart or outmuscle the defenders. Oftentimes, that star receiver receives as much if not more adulation than the quarterback. Think of Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, or more recently, Terrell Owens and Donovan McNabb.

But is it enough to have two stars? In order for the receiver and quarterback to make plays, the quarterback must have enough pass protection to have the time to assess the developing play and for the receiver to get down field and open. The only way this will happen is if the offensive line steps up and provides enough blocking to prevent the pass rushers from reaching that star quarterback. Similarly, without at least a decent running game, the team runs the risk of becoming predictable and one-dimensional in its attack.

And what about that running back? He definitely cannot make the big plays without a team of dedicated players clearing the way for him to find a seam and get down the field. In effect, the whole offensive team, from quarterback to offensive line to running backs to wide receivers, all must work as a cohesive unit to get the job done.

Let's not forget the defense. While the defense has the primary responsibility of preventing the other team from scoring, perhaps equally important is being able to create good field position by stopping the opponent as far from the goal line as possible. Even with a team quarterbacked by Tom Brady, there are only so many times you can start a drive at your own five-yard line and expect to score a touchdown. Winning football games is as much about top-notch tackling as it is passing for touchdowns.

So what does football have to do with lubrication? Surprisingly, the similarities between a well-built and well-coached football team and a well-managed lubrication program are uncanny. For example, take the plant seeking to build a new vision for its lubrication program. Where do you start? Do you build from a star performer such as vibration analysis or oil analysis? Or do you get the basic blocking and tackling right at first, allowing the stars more time to solve the really difficult problems?

While there can be little doubt that any well-developed reliability-centered lubrication program needs these "star" performers, the program will be doomed to mediocrity unless they are surrounded by the fundamentals of offensive blocking and defensive tackling.

Lubrication Blocking
Excellence in lubrication is a simple concept. It is about getting the right lubricant (oil or grease), in the right place at the right time, making sure that lubricant is supplied in the right quantity (right grease volume, oil level or oil flow) and ensuring the lubricant is kept appropriately clean, dry and cool. More so than any other tools, basic lubrication blocking and tackling - such as selecting the right lubricant, inspecting oil levels regularly, calculating the correct grease volumes and carefully storing and handling lubricants to meet contamination control targets - are all it takes to make a quantum leap in lubrication performance in most plants.

So don't focus too much attention on the stars. If they are truly stellar performers, their abilities will naturally come through. Instead, work on the little things that provide the support our MVPs need to make it to the end zone.

As always, this is my opinion. I'm interested in hearing yours.