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Mastering Lubrication Management: 10 Tips for Asset Reliability and Efficiency

Updated: Jun 17

Lubrication Management

Lubrication management plays a crucial role in achieving asset reliability, efficiency, and longevity while minimizing downtime and maintenance costs. Successful lubrication management, however, is a major challenge due to factors including complex processes, varying operations, and coordination difficulties. Below is the ultimate list of lubrication management tips to ensure success.

Redlist’s Top 10 Lubrication Management Tips

1. Select the Ideal Lubricants

Lubrication management success begins and ends with selecting the ideal lubricants. The ideal lubricants should have the following characteristics:

  • Can protect surfaces against moisture and contaminants

  • Compatible with adjacent components

  • Non-corrosive

  • Stable structure that can provide assets with long service life

  • Good film strength that can support large and variable loads

  • Stable viscosity against a wide range of operating temperatures

Selecting the ideal lubricant for an asset is a continuous process. You may begin by using the manufacturer’s recommendations, but it is essential to make adaptations based on your operating environment.

For example, if your environment is exceptionally wet or dusty, an asset's lubricant requirements may differ from those of the manufacturer. You must continuously monitor and evaluate lubricant performance for areas of improvement.

Plus, improvements are often achieved by modifying lubrication processes or replacing lubricants.

2. Focus on Lubricant Compatibility

By focusing on lubricant compatibility, you ensure optimal asset performance and service life while minimizing the risk of damage. Lubricant incompatibility leads to chemical reactions that damage assets and harm workers’ health.

Follow the asset manufacturer’s recommendations when selecting lubricants. Avoid mixing lubricants and segregate them during storage. Conduct compatibility testing if you are unsure whether a lubricant is compatible with your asset.

Monitor lubricant performance to detect compatibility issues. Lastly, maintain detailed records on lubricant information such as lubricant types and usage to establish a reliable compatibility database.

3. Avoid Dust and Moisture

Do not use lubricants when surfaces are dusty or wet. Dusty, dirty, or similarly compromised area causes the oil or lubricant to ‘gum up’. This gumming up of lubricants only adds to the friction between surfaces, the friction that lubricants should minimize for the machine or equipment in the first place.

Also, when using thinner or less viscous lubricants, unclean surfaces can result in dripping or running, thus resulting in less effective lubrication. It is a common misconception that lubricated surfaces are protected from moisture. This is partially true as oils make surfaces water-resistant.

However, applying lubricants on wet surfaces or continuous exposure to moisture lowers the performance of lubricants over time. Lubricants absorb the water, gradually lowering adhesion and reducing their ability to form a protective film between machine parts.

4. Use Grease Appropriately

Grease is a semi-solid type of lubricant that is useful when you need continuous application because it stays in place and does not run off like oils. However, there are instances where using grease is not appropriate.

Do not use grease in:

High-speed applications

In applications involving fast-moving parts, grease can cause churning and excessive heat generation due to its semi-solid nature. Oil is a better choice for its better cooling and lubrication efficiency.

Low-temperature conditions

Low temperatures can cause grease to stiffen and lose its lubricating ability. Oils specially made for low-temperature conditions are preferred for these situations.

Clean environments

In applications where you need to keep the area clean, grease may add to contamination issues. Moving parts can fling grease around and can also attract dust and particles.

High-precision applications

In applications involving fine parts, high tolerances, or precise movements, grease can create too much resistance and cause high variability. A lower viscosity is preferred for less resistance and more control and accuracy.  

5. Use Penetrating Lubricants Appropriately

Penetrating lubricants are useful for loosening up rust, corrosion, and seized-up or stuck parts. This type of lubricant is thin and fluid-like to penetrate tight spaces, crevices, and joints. Thus, do not use penetrating lubricants in place of other lubricants, especially for applications like bearing lubrication.

Penetrating lubricants only provide temporary lubrication and do not last long. Using them for long-term protection will only result in damaging your machine. 

Discover how the lack of lubrication leads to bearing failure – read our in-depth analysis now!

6. Use Dry Lubricants Appropriately

Dry lubricants are alternatives to grease or oils for lubrication where these traditional lubricants are unsuitable or where cleanliness is essential. Dry lubricants provide long-lasting lubrication without attracting dirt or debris and are also resistant to change even in high-temperature conditions.

However, do not use dry lubricants when application surfaces are exposed to liquids or solvents which can wash the lubricants away. Similarly, dry lubricants are not appropriate for high-wear applications as they will need frequent reapplications.

mastering lubrication management guie

7. Don’t Waste Your Money

To avoid wasting money on lubrication, you must use strategies that achieve efficient lubrication, optimum lubricant performance, and maximum asset reliability. Saving money does not always mean buying cheap lubricants.

That can result in low performance and unreliable assets. On the other hand, expensive high-quality lubricants are not always cost-effective if they are used inefficiently through bad lubrication practices.

Minimizing costs in lubrication management involves these strategies:

Select the right lubricants

The right lubricant reduces long-term costs because it means longer lubricant life, reduced machine wear and tear, less power losses, and improved safety.

Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations

Manufacturers know the ideal lubrication types, applications, and practices that best fit your machine or equipment, saving you from costly lubrication issues. 

Avoid over-lubrication

Over-lubrication is common because of the misconception that more lubricant means better lubrication. In fact, too much lubricant leads to buildup that attracts dirt and contaminants, increasing wear and tear. All these result in money wasted on more lubricants and reduced life of the asset and its parts.  

Monitor asset performance

Monitoring asset performance helps in identifying early signs of lubrication issues, thus allowing for timely maintenance intervention and preventing costly breakdowns. 

Store and handle lubricants properly

Proper storage and handling help you get the most out of your money by minimizing lubricant waste and maintaining the optimum lubricant performance.

Train personnel adequately

Well-trained personnel are less likely to make costly mistakes in storing, handling, and applying lubricants. They can also more easily spot lubrication issues before these escalate into expensive breakdowns.

Record data and analyze

Lubrication data provide valuable insights that can help improve lubrication efficiency and identify opportunities for cost savings.

Centralize lubrication information

Centralizing lubrication data and processes improves the efficiency, accuracy, and consistency of lubrication. Lubrication management systems like Redlist can automate lubrication, reducing materials, labor, downtime, and other costs associated with manual lubrication.

Continuously improve

Regularly review lubrication data for continuous improvement, thus optimizing lubrication and reducing costs continuously over time.

8. Set Up a Lube Room

A lube room requires careful planning and research, and thus considerable investments of time, money, knowledge, and expertise. However, if properly designed and managed, a lube room can contribute to significant benefits and cost reductions over time.

One of the most important areas of cost reduction it provides is inventory management. With a dedicated lube room, you can implement efficient practices such as FIFO (first-in, first-out), stock level monitoring, and regular inventory auditing.

Additionally, a lube room can minimize costs by allowing you adequate control over storage conditions such as temperature and contamination protection. Lube rooms can also be equipped with dispensing systems that help minimize losses from human errors, spillage, and imprecise application amounts.

9. Cultivate a Lubrication Culture

A lubrication culture consists of all the attitudes, values, practices, and norms related to lubrication. A positive lubrication culture enhances asset reliability, improves operational efficiency, and increases cost savings. Cultivating a positive lubrication culture requires:

  • Leadership commitment - This provides the necessary resources, support, and recognition for lubrication initiatives.

  • Training and education - These provide maintenance personnel with the knowledge and skills required for effective lubrication management.

  • Standard procedures - Establishing standard procedures ensure consistency and accountability across the organization.

  • Communication and collaboration - These allow the sharing of knowledge, discussing challenges, and coordinating lubrication activities among personnel.

  • Continuous improvement - This encourages constant feedback and regular review, promoting the implementation of best practices that are ever-improving and evolving.

  • Data-driven decisions - Data and analytics provide accurate and relevant information for effective decisions. 

  • Safety priority - This allows for practices and activities that prevent accidents and injuries, further promoting adherence to established procedures.

  • Recognition and incentives - Recognizing individuals and teams who demonstrate lubrication excellence promotes adherence to procedures and achievement of performance targets.

Unlock the secrets to a successful lube program – dive into our comprehensive guide on building a Lube Management Training Plan today!

10. Utilize Accessories and Software

World-class lubrication programs make use of equipment modifications and tools to further achieve their lubrication goals. These modifications include accessories such as desiccant breathers, quick connects, external level gauges, sample ports, and sensors. These accessories can transform a small gearbox to world-class standards in terms of contamination control, maintainability, and reliability.

In addition to utilizing accessories, integrating Lubrication Management Software into your maintenance strategy can elevate your lubrication program to new heights of efficiency and effectiveness.

Software solutions like Redlist's lubrication management software provide a centralized platform to streamline lubrication processes, track inventory, monitor asset performance, and generate insightful reports.

lubrication management free demo

Redlist: Your Key to a World-Class Lubrication Program

Redlist's lubrication management software offers a comprehensive suite of features designed to optimize your lubrication practices. With this software, you can:

  • Centralize Information: Store all lubrication-related data in one accessible location, making it easy to track lubricant usage, equipment specifications, and maintenance schedules.

  • Automate Activities: Set up automated alerts and reminders for lubrication tasks, ensuring timely maintenance and reducing the risk of missed lubrication intervals.

  • Manage and Track Inventory: Keep detailed records of lubricant inventory levels, reorder points, and usage history, enabling efficient inventory management and replenishment.

  • Maintain Asset Visibility: Gain insights into asset health and performance through comprehensive asset tracking and monitoring capabilities, allowing you to identify potential issues early and prevent costly downtime.

  • Integrate with Devices and Sensors: Seamlessly integrate with sensors and IoT devices to gather real-time data on equipment condition and lubricant performance, facilitating proactive maintenance and optimization.

  • Access Information Remotely: Access lubrication data and reports from anywhere, at any time, using mobile devices or desktop computers, enabling remote monitoring and decision-making.

  • Analyze Data and Generate Reports: Leverage advanced analytics tools to analyze lubrication data, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions to optimize lubrication practices and reduce costs.

  • Store and Organize Documents: Store lubrication manuals, maintenance procedures, and other documentation in a centralized repository for easy access and reference by maintenance personnel.

By incorporating Redlist's lubrication management software into your maintenance program, you can enhance lubrication practices, improve asset reliability, and achieve significant cost savings. Experience the power of world-class lubrication management with Redlist today! Book a demo or talk to us to discover how we can help transform your maintenance strategy.

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