The lubricant Optimum Reference State (ORS) is a critical concept in the journey to world-class lubrication and enhanced machine reliability. In short, it is the prescribed state of machine configuration, operating conditions and maintenance activities required to achieve and sustain specific reliability objectives. Lubrication excellence is achieved when the current state of lubrication approaches that of the Optimum Reference State. If you don’t understand the ORS, you probably don’t understand the most fundamental concepts in machine reliability.
Lubrication attributes of the ORS are not widely known by equipment builders, lubricant suppliers and maintenance organizations. Many user organizations falsely conclude that their machines are already fitted with the necessary accessories and components that enable reliability to be achieved. Sadly, of the hundreds of machine service manuals I’ve seen in recent years, it is rare to find practices described close to the ORS. In a typical plant, it is equally rare to see machines fitted with ORS-compliant lubrication components and technicians performing ORS-compliant lubrication.
There are many different attributes of the Optimum Reference State. These attributes relate to people preparedness, machine preparedness, precision lubricants, precision lubrication and oil analysis. Achieving the ORS almost always involves change or modifications. For instance, you can’t get optimum filtration unless you install the optimum filter. You can’t have optimum oil samples unless you install ORS-compliant sample valves in the optimum location. Then, of course, you need to pull the sample using ORS-compliant procedures at ORS-compliant frequencies.
If you carefully analyze the influence of lubrication on reliability and maintenance costs, you will notice a few consistent themes. Most importantly, it becomes evident what needs to be changed to substantially enhance reliability and reduce costs. These changes define critical tactics that will eventually detail the Optimum Reference State.
First, let’s look at the six factors used to tally the costs.
By developing a lubrication program with ORS attributes and using a few critical tactics, you can realize the benefits of improved machine reliability and reduced costs.
Why do these things happen, and why are these costs incurred? Answering these questions is like doing a root-cause failure analysis. You have to ask the “repetitive why.” The ORS Benefits Grid (see page 4) illustrates how lubrication plays a vital role in reversing or simply reducing the impact in each of the above six cost groups. It also shows the important connection to the Optimum Reference State and a sustained state of cost control and reliability.
To see how, let’s follow the trail backward from the six cost groups. Listed across the top of the ORS Benefits Grid are six tactics that describe how ORS lubrication enables reliability and delivers benefits to an organization. These six tactics are described below:
So now let’s put the process in the correct order:
Want to get the ORS started in your plant? Begin by getting your organization trained on the fundamentals of machinery lubrication.
The critical Optimum Reference State (ORS) tactics aren’t built into the DNA of most machines and maintenance organizations. They also don’t come about on their own. Instead, companies must reinvent and modernize lubrication to create a state of preparedness and condition readiness that enables lubrication excellence. This is a prescription for the ORS. Let’s take a look at some of these reliability-enabling attributes relating to lubrication: