One of the most common tasks performed by the Castrol® field engineering team is assisting customers with the consolidation of lubricants used in the maintenance of their equipment.
Over the years, it is quite common for commercial businesses with a lot of equipment to accumulate a significant number of lubricants, typically consisting of several different brands in different package sizes. This can happen with on-road truck fleets, mobile off-road equipment, and processing plants.
Often times, the maintenance staff does not even know why a particular lubricant is being used… it’s just been that way for a long time. At one point, it would have been known why a particular lube was purchased, but often that information is not documented and that person is no longer available.
As a result, there is an accumulation of different brands of lubricants in different package sizes, which results in overlap of required lubricants and over-spending. Another adverse result is clutter in the shop or around the plant… poor housekeeping can lead to increased chances of injury to personnel from slips, trips and falls. It can also lead to fluid contamination problems because maintenance personnel can often end up confused about the proper application of different lubricants.
It is difficult enough to keep up with maintenance tasks on a large fleet of equipment, especially with the lack of experienced maintenance personnel that plagues the industry these days. But, add in the confusion that can be created with several different brands of oil or grease onsite, and it is not unusual for mistakes to happen. When the wrong lubricant is used in a component, it can potentially lead to equipment failure.
To address this issue, a professional lube survey can be performed, where a list is compiled of all lubricated compartments. A lubrication engineer then goes through the requirements of each compartment, and creates a new list of recommended lubricants. During this process, the engineer will look for opportunities to consolidate lubricants. As an example, there is a range of lubricant viscosities that are appropriate to use for most components… depending on the operating temperature, speed and load that the unit is operating under.
During a lubricant consolidation exercise, the lubrication engineer will take all of these options into consideration and, when appropriate, will make recommendations to consolidate lubricants. The goal is to consolidate to the narrowest number of lubricants possible without putting the health of the fleet at risk. This process usually results in cost savings and a significant reduction in the number of lubricant brands and package sizes.
At the conclusion of this process, your maintenance technicians should be provided with copies of the lube survey to help them identify the correct lubricant to be used in each component. In some cases, the information can be simplified down to a chart that can be laminated and kept in a maintenance library, as well as on tool boxes and lube trucks for easy access.
When performed by a qualified lubrication specialist, this process can provide an opportunity to improve your fleet maintenance practices and help you to move your company along the “maintenance journey” towards a world-class operation.
As always, please contact your Castrol® sales or field engineering representative for assistance.