5 Quick Tips to Improve Your Lubrication Storage Practice
Happy Luberuary! In celebrating Luberuary month with you, I thought it would be a good reminder to discuss the importance of properly storing lubricants and having an organized process in place. Much like healthy habits are not formed in one day, lubricant storage cannot be fixed in one day, either. For a habit to become a habit, it must be done on a consistent basis that provides you with the results you desire.
Properly lubricating your bearings is important, but this cannot be done unless you know how to properly store your lubricant. A lot of people do not realize just how important this is. If the lubricant being used is not completely clean and healthy, it could massively shorten the shelf life of the lubricant and cause disastrous problems in the long run. You cannot simply set your lube to the side and forget about it until its next use.
Why should you worry about storing the lube in the first place? First and foremost, properly storing lubricant will save you money in the future and you will be setting yourself up to get the maximum life out of the lubricant. You are also ensuring that the lubricant you purchase is being carefully handled and prepared for its next use. Secondly, it does not take a lot for lubricant to become contaminated and, therefore, inefficient. Even the smallest foreign particle or contaminate to the lubricant can cause concern. There are many errors that facilities make with lubricant storage such as storing it in extreme varying degrees of temperature, keeping it in a filthy storage area, letting it sit for so long that the oil mixture subsides, not properly labeling lubricants, and many more! Unfortunately, without a designated process in place, it is very difficult to keep lubricant clean and ready to use.
Here are five tips that will help you and your facility:
1. Develop a Consistent Procedure for Ordering, Receiving, and Storing Lubricant
Practice makes perfect, and this is a practice you do not want to skip out on. It may sound easy, but making sure that you have a consistent, organized, and reliable process allows you to order, receive, and store lubricant the same way each time. There will be no questions asked or hesitation in how lubricant should be stored, where it should be stored, how much should be ordered, or where different lubricants are store. While seemingly small at first, this will add up each day as you develop a habit, and it will have a huge impact on the success of your facility. Success starts at the top and having a reliable process in place creates the foundation.
2. Store Lubricant Indoors in a Moderate Temperature with a Consistent Environment
This is important because the varying degrees of temperature can have a drastic impact on the way the lubricant settles. Additionally, if you are storing lubricant outside or moving it from a low, cold temperature environment to a higher, warm temperature environment, you are essentially inviting the risk of moisture being sucked into the barrel. This immediately contaminates the lubricant, and it can severely alter the viscosity as well. Ultimately, too much moisture can quickly deem this lubricant unsafe to use and now the entire barrel has gone to waste.
3. Keep Grease Guns and Grease Equipment Clean and Free of Contamination
This one is often overlooked, but it is just as important as keeping the lubricant clean. For example, if you are using a grease gun to transfer lube into your bearings, that grease gun, in its entirety, should be as clean as possible. It is not uncommon for foreign particles on the gun to fall into the lubricant during the process of transferring the grease to the gun and from the gun to the bearings. If you are using any other equipment to grease, the same rules will apply.
4. Set Aside a Designated Storage Area to Keep Clean and Organized (AND USE LABELS)
A clean house is a happy house, and this is no different here. If you are storing lubricant in an area next to machines or equipment that produce debris or particles, you are increasing the chance of the foreign particles getting inside the barrel. The storage space must be clean and organized (with labels) clearly identifying the different types of lubricants you may be using. If you are limited in space and this is unavoidable, you should at the very least be covering the lubricant barrels with a heavy-duty cloth or tarp that will prevent particles from collecting on the outside of the barrel. Additionally, it will be important to make the inventory levels clearly visible for everyone so you can be on the same page on how much lubricant you have used, how much is left, when is it time to order more, etc.
5. Implement Sampling and Oil Analysis Procedures
Finally, lubricant can be compromised before it even reaches your facility, so it is important to know how to analyze, sample, clean, and filter the lubricant before using. For example, a lot of new lubricants are dirty upon arrival with high foreign particle counts, so it is important that you take the time to analyze and sample the lubricant before applying it to the bearings. Additionally, all new lubricants should be filtered either as they come in or as you are getting ready to use them to ensure that there is very little, if nothing at all, in that lubricant.
I hope you learned something from these five tips and can implement at least one or more into your facility. While there are many more tips to perfect this practice, following these tips will be a great start to building the foundation of your successful lubrication storage process. It’s a lot better to be proactive than reactive to save yourself from future headaches, so now is the time to give your lubrication storage process the love it finally deserves.
For more information about lubrication storage, please check out this webinar made available by Reliable Process Solution’s Terry Harris: Designing Effective Lubrication Storage Webinar.