Proper Lubrication Can Improve Reliability
If you could find an investment that guaranteed a return 40 times greater than your initial investment, you probably wouldn’t pass it up. According to the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, that’s exactly the return organizations can expect when they invest in quality lubricants and best-in-class lubrication practices. For every $1,000 those organizations invest in the right lubricant and the right handling, they can expect cost reductions of $40,000 in the form of increased reliability.1
A proper lubrication program begins with meeting all three of the lubricant specifications for your organization’s equipment: viscosity, performance, and cleanliness. Achieving the first two depends primarily on selecting the right lubricant. It’s important to choose the lubricant that has the correct viscosity and the right blend of base oil and additives to provide the performance you need.
You’re in Control of Cleanliness
The third spec, lubricant cleanliness, is largely up to you. While choosing a lubricant with the right cleanliness specifications is an important start, actual cleanliness depends largely on how your organization stores and handles the lubricant.
Interestingly, cleanliness is a factor many organizations overlook in the lubricants they buy and use. Many sites have failed to establish new lube cleanliness specs and overlook cleanliness when managing lubricants. But without addressing cleanliness, you cannot achieve an optimal lubrication and reliability program.
Contamination is A Significant Problem
Lubricant contamination is widely recognized as the leading cause of lubricant-related equipment failure. According to Noria, 82% of mechanical wear is caused by particle contamination in lubricants.2 In addition, dirt and contaminants are the leading causes of hydraulic system failures.
The types of contaminants causing the greatest damage are microscopic and can only be detected through fluid analysis. Examples include dirt particulates, moisture, varnish, and gases. Such contaminants not only damage equipment but may also reduce the performance of and shorten the intended life of the lubricant.
Organizations seeking to eliminate defects caused by equipment wear over time should be aware that lubricant cleanliness is a critical factor in wear. Starting clean by selecting the optimal lubricant for the application, changing it at the correct interval, and managing fluid cleanliness level will have a substantial effect on reducing and eliminating defects and improving the reliability of the plant as a whole. A lack of understanding about cleanliness and pressure to reduce costs may lead some organizations to settle for lower-quality lubricants but any cost savings are more than offset by the cost of lower productivity, premature component failure and shortened service intervals.
Developing A Lubrication Reliability Strategy
Given the importance of lubricant cleanliness as it relates to performance and equipment wear, organizations seeking best-in-class practices must adopt an effective strategy for lubrication reliability. A comprehensive defect elimination strategy will address lubricant cleanliness, product handling/storage and monitoring through regular fluid analysis.
Two maintenance approaches have long been recognized for their success at understanding and preventing equipment failures. The first, Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM), is a strategy centered upon monitoring the condition of equipment when determining the maintenance that needs to be performed, using indicators that warn of failure or decreased performance. The second, Predictive Maintenance (PdM), also involves monitoring the condition of equipment and its performance during normal operation. As the name implies, PdM predicts when failure is likely to occur and spells out corrective steps to prevent that from happening.
A Sound Strategy is a Smart Investment
Making the move to a combined CBM and PdM strategy for maintenance -- including a focus on monitoring and addressing lubricant cleanliness -- can have a marked impact on reducing wear on components, increasing the mean time between failure, and extending service intervals, all of which can reduce operating costs and downtime.
The challenge for those directly responsible for maintenance is often a matter of building a case that explains these concepts and documents their effectiveness to plant management. A case that successfully explains how the slightly higher operational costs associated with factors such as lubricant cleanliness will provide a significantly higher return on investment by lowering the need for capital expenditures. This positive return on investment reinforces why organizations adopt these best-in-class practices. In addition, starting with high-quality lubricants like Chevron ISOCLEAN® Certified Lubricants makes it easier to meet equipment manufacturers’ cleanliness specifications.
Interested in seeing just how clean your new oil is? Chevron is currently offering a free oil sampling kit. We’ll send you a postage-paid test kit. Simply draw a sample of your new oil and return it to us. We’ll analyze it and mail the results back to you. There’s no cost or obligation, so request your free test kit today!
1 The Practical Handbook of
2 Noria Corporation