Machinery Lubrication’s Lube Room Challenge was truly an international affair in 2016, with submissions from Argentina, Canada, India, Korea, Poland, Russia and the United States. The annual challenge, which allows readers to submit exceptional lube rooms that incorporate best-practice features, showcases how designing a proper lube room is one of the first steps to achieving lubrication excellence. The following entries also highlight how improving lubricant storage and handling methods has become a worldwide pursuit.
Burckhardt Compression is a leading manufacturer and service provider of reciprocating compressor systems. The company’s plant in Pune, India, recently discovered that most of its machine abnormalities were related to poor lubrication. Employee training and certification would be the first steps toward optimizing the facility’s lubrication practices.
After receiving training, the plant’s maintenance team was able to identify many opportunities for improvement. Contamination due to open storage, common dispensing devices for various oils, lack of a spill kit and no emergency preparedness were just a few of the areas of concern.
The lube room at the Burckhardt Compression
India plant is shown before (left) and after
(right) improvements were made.
Standardizing lubricants on the basis of viscosity and application would be the initial focus. Oils were color-coded to improve visualization. The number of lubricant types was reduced from 15 to 12, while the lubricant inventory was lowered by 30 percent. This not only saved money but also storage space.
The focus then shifted to upgrading the plant’s lube room and lubricant storage and handling practices to reduce oil contamination. Lots of brainstorming and researching lube room standards went into creating the best possible space. The new lube room is totally enclosed and dust-free. Only authorized personnel are allowed to work inside the room. A flame-proof lighting system and non-slip epoxy floor help to avoid accidents. All safety instructions are displayed inside the lube room, which also includes a spill kit, eyewash bottle, fire extinguisher and fire hydrant system for emergencies. Natural ventilators are utilized to cool the room and ensure proper air exchange.
By placing lubricants in a contamination-free environment, the plant was able to reduce chemical degradation and oxidation. Rotating oil supplies using the first-in/first-out (FIFO) method also helped to minimize lubricant degradation.
Color codes are now employed for all oil storage devices. Separate color-coded pumps are provided for every lubricant and permanently fitted onto oil drums to prevent interchanging them. Each machine has its own color-coded oil transfer container and grease gun. Colored tags have also been applied to all oil tanks and machine greasing positions.
Employee attitudes were instrumental in creating the successful lube room, as plant personnel have been willing to do whatever was needed to accomplish the goal.
Cameco is one of the world’s largest uranium producers. Its mine in Saskatchewan, Canada, operates various types of equipment both on the surface and underground, including compressors, pumps and gearboxes. The mine also has two lube bays to maintain, one underground and the other on the surface. Being in northern Canada, the climate can be challenging as well, with seasonal temperatures varying from minus 49 degrees F to 77 degrees F.
Previously, Cameco’s oil drums were stored
outside in frigid temperatures.
Cameco now has a dedicated room both
underground and on the surface specifically
for lubricant storage and dispensing.
Three years ago, Cameco determined that its lubrication practices were lacking. New lubricants were stored outside unprotected, oil could be found in opened and unidentified containers, and there was poor contamination control in the lube room. The lube area was also located directly in front of a makeup air unit for the shop, which made the area gritty.
Since that time, the mine has come a long way and made many improvements. It now has a dedicated room both underground and on the surface specifically for lubricant storage and dispensing. A color-coding system of lids is used to distinguish the lubricant category (e.g., industrial gear oil), while a ring identifies the lubricant type (e.g., mineral 220 EP). Warehouse storage of new oil is also inside a climate-controlled building.
Kidney-loop filtration is now used on the mine’s oil storage tanks, which are outfitted with desiccant breathers and quick couplers. Sealed containers with pumps and pour spouts are utilized for lubricant dispensing. Three of the most common oils are dispensed through a piping system to hose reels in the shop for mobile equipment. The mine has also consolidated its lubricants, dropping from five hydraulic oils to two, three compressor oils to one and only one type of motor oil.
In addition, every lube technician has been certified as a Level I Machine Lubrication Technician (MLT), with one on duty for each shift. These changes are expected to have a positive impact at the mine for years to come.
The Cargill plant in Grantsville, Utah, harvests and processes salt from the Great Salt Lake. The facility’s maintenance team recently discovered that lubrication excellence is a cornerstone to a strong reliability program. The plant began its journey by hosting an onsite training class involving the entire maintenance team. As a result, the majority of team members achieved their Level I Machine Lubrication Technician certification through the International Council for Machinery Lubrication (ICML). Management also recognized the value of the initiative and created a dedicated lubrication position to lead the change.
Cargill’s new lube room features individual containers
with pumps, color-coded oil sample results and
The lube room was identified as one of the areas in need of improvement. Previously, the lubricant storage area was open to dust and contamination, and lubricants were pumped directing from barrels utilizing open transfer containers. The plant also had poor labeling practices and a lack of oil sampling and filtration.
In creating the new lube room, a wall and floor coating were added to isolate the room from the rest of the shop. A heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system is used to maintain the appropriate climate. The room is kept secure with a locked door to minimize access to the bulk tank system. Mechanics access the oil system through remote switches and dispensing nozzles on the other side of the wall while servicing mobile equipment.
The facility’s lubricant inventory has also been consolidated, and a filter-in/out lubrication rack installed. After oil drums are received, they are tested to verify cleanliness prior to being filtered into the bulk tank. Each bulk container has a dedicated pump, filter and desiccant breather. The bulk containers are filtered to a specification that is two ISO codes cleaner than the target ISO code used in the field. Each bulk system has a color-coded sleeve that shows the monthly oil sample results for the tank. The tanks also have a name, shape and color-coded label. These same labels have been applied in the field on all of the equipment.
Since creating the lube room, Cargill has continued to pursue lubrication excellence. To reduce cross-contamination, special fittings were installed for the food-grade grease so only specific grease guns can be used in these applications. Side-stream filters have also been added on engine and hydraulic systems. Switching to condition-based monitoring of mobile equipment has allowed for longer intervals between service, reducing costs in both material and labor.
The future goals of the program include using unique fittings on both equipment and dispensing nozzles to avoid cross-contamination when filling mobile equipment reservoirs. Research is also being done on a small programmable logic controller (PLC) to manage automatic daily filtering of each bulk tank. Finally, the plant plans to review its grease inventories and hopes to consolidate even more.
Dow Chemical’s Bahía Blanca site in Argentina began transforming its lubrication program in 2012. At the time, its lube room was messy, disorganized and lacked space, which made access difficult.
The old lube room at Dow Chemical’s Bahía
Blanca site was messy, disorganized
and lacked space.
An existing building at the site was
modified to construct a new lube room.
The new lube room is much larger and cleaner with different
work areas marked on the floor.
An onsite laboratory provides the
ability to test new and used oil.
An existing building at the site was modified to construct a new lube room in accordance with world-class standards. The goal was to make it large, practical and extremely clean with easy access.
The room’s walls, gates and racks were painted white. The floor was also marked to divide the different work areas. There are now six stations for new oils, with a color-coding identification system for greases. Oils are filtered before entering the stations.
Storage tanks incorporate a filtering system to ensure cleanliness. Oil drums are filled directly from the tanks without any contact with the environment. The room’s ample space allows tanks and filtering equipment to be moved in and out of the room easily.
Oil analysis was intensified at the site to increase the reliability and lifespan of machines. A new laboratory area was created to monitor critical equipment. The onsite lab has a technician who is able to test new and used oil. There’s also a storage area for lubrication-related materials.
An ultrasonic lubrication system was also tested on 1,000 pieces of rotating equipment, which reduced waste material and grease contamination. Through more intelligent use of lubricants (i.e., replacing mineral oils with synthetic oils, filtering oil on condition, etc.), the site was even able to consolidate its lubricants.
Thanks to these improvements, the Bahía Blanca site not only has increased awareness of lubrication’s importance but has also seen a new attitude among its staff. Dow plans to use the new lube room as a model for its other plants as it continues to enjoy the benefits of keeping lubricants dry, clean and free of contamination.
As a leader in supply-chain management, warehousing and transportation services, the Es3 facility in York, Pennsylvania, supports storage of 400,000 pallets and shipping of more than 300 million cases annually. The facility was recently asked to help define the organization’s requirements for lubricant storage and handling. Creating a proper lube room was the first place to start.
Before the new lube room was built, lubricants were scattered, with some in the parts room and others inside disorganized fire cabinets in different areas of the warehouse. A few lubricants could even be found just sitting on the floor. With separate maintenance departments for the different automated systems, the facility also had incompatible lubricants that weren’t properly labeled, which resulted in occasional mixing of lubricants. Waste oil often ended up in the same types of containers as the new oil but was not labeled as waste.
The new 30-by-30-foot lube room would be constructed in one of the few unused areas inside the warehouse. One corner of the room was sectioned off to be the laboratory, while the rest was designated for lubricant storage. The previous reliability specialist, who had spent the past few years earning his Machine Lubrication Technician and Laboratory Lubricant Analyst certifications, managed the lubricant consolidation effort. He developed a color/shape coding system and began applying it to the lubricants. He was able to repurpose old fire cabinets, but new oil dispensers, containment pallets, filter carts and sampling/testing equipment for the lab had to be purchased.
The new lube room is clean and temperature-controlled year-round. Each maintenance department has its own cabinet with only the lubricants it needs. Gear oils are transferred from barrels into 120-gallon dispensers with desiccant breathers and are filtered during the process. Every lubricant in the facility has a color code, and each lubricant type has a shape code, e.g., triangles for gear oil, circles for grease, squares for aerosols, etc. The equipment also has color/shape code stickers applied at the lube points. Waste oil barrels are now properly labeled and dated. In addition, the facility’s lubricants have been consolidated as much as possible, which has reduced the number of different lubricants stored onsite.
Since the completion of the lube room, lube-related mistakes have decreased significantly. Along with the new laboratory, the lube room’s organization has also increased the staff’s confidence in the condition of the lubricants being put into the machinery.
The Irving Paper plant in New Brunswick, Canada, has two paper machines with an annual output of 420,000 tons per year. The facility employs two full-time certified lubrication technicians to ensure all equipment is maintained at world-class efficiencies. The plant’s lube room is used to support all of the lubrication activities within the facility.
The Irving Paper lube room was
cluttered and unorganized, which made
finding items difficult.
The new lube room has been professionally
organized, cleaned and painted.
The oil-dispensing station is clearly labeled
with the oil type and color-coded for easy
identification. Storage cabinets hold
oil top-up containers and grease guns.
New cabinets keep daily-use items close at hand.
As part of the company’s continuous improvement culture, the lube team accepted a “5-S+1” challenge from within the division. A workplace organization methodology, 5-S is centered around five words that begin with the letter “S” - sort, straighten, shine, standardize and sustain. The “+1” at Irving Paper is focused entirely on safety.
Before the project began, the lube room was cluttered, daily-use items were difficult to find and the facility did not meet the organization’s standards.
The area has since been professionally organized. The clutter is now gone, and the room has been cleaned and painted. A shadow board was installed with frequently used tools. Storage cabinets hold oil top-up containers and grease guns, which are labeled and color-coded. Wall charts are posted next to the shop door to identify grease/oil types and general usage.
A dedicated oil rag disposal container was installed near the used oil disposal station with a fusible link on the lid for fire protection. A storage cabinet for used oil buckets was located next to the used oil disposal tank. A guard has been added around the coupling for the used oil transfer pump. “Keep area clear” demarcation lines were painted in front of the used oil transfer pump station, and the area inside was painted with an anti-slip coating. Demarcation lines were also painted in front of all cabinets and the oil-dispensing unit.
A covered waste receptacle has replaced numerous open cans. The locations of the waste receptacle and recycle containers have been marked, along with the fire-suppression system valve. Fire sprinkler lines were also painted for easy identification.
Oil is brought into the shop in barrels and pre-filtered as it goes into the oil-dispensing rack, which is color-coded and labeled with the oil type. Desiccant air breathers prevent moisture ingression during storage. Spring-loaded auto shut-off valves on the dispensing unit help prevent spillage, while a catchpan helps to keep the area clean.
The 5-S project has improved the plant’s daily work by making it easy to find parts and supplies. New cabinets are clearly labeled with daily-use items close at hand. Everything now has a designated place for storage.
A communication board on the door identifies any areas requiring 5-S or safety attention. This board also helps the plant stay on track with its housekeeping and workplace organization. Every lubrication technician is now required to be certified as a Level II Machine Lubrication Technician in accordance with ISO 18436.
Ownership of the lube room by the skilled and engaged lube team has made this project a success and should continue to provide more rewards in the future.
The Kimberly-Clark mill in Fullerton, California, produces facial tissue, bathroom tissue and industrial wipes. After a 2014 assessment of the site’s lubrication program revealed several opportunities for improvement, the mill decided it was time for a dramatic change.
In the old lube room at Kimberly-Clark’s mill in
Fullerton, California, lubricants were stored
under poor conditions with dirty funnels,
The new lube room features controlled access
and oil-specific filtering prior to delivery
The first order of business would be to locate a new lube room. The Kimberly-Clark team wanted a room that would be strategically located and could be easily converted into a clean, cool and dry space. It also had to be large enough for all the related tools and equipment needed for a world-class lubrication program. This would include a color-coded center workstation incorporating breathers, filters, suction hoses and pumps, as well as safety features and a filtration system to filter oil while it was still in the drum.
Other additions to the new lube room were a non-slip floor, controlled access, a certified sprinkler system, an ergonomic drum-lifting mechanism, a cabinet for grease guns, oil visual-management tools, desiccant breathers, filters, etc. Most importantly, the room was kept clean to prevent potential contamination.
The Kimberly-Clark team evaluated its lubricant storage program and found that the area where lubricants were stored was adequate. There were no extreme temperature variations, and the humidity was very low. The improvements in this area consisted of rotating oil supplies and employing the first-in/first-out (FIFO) method to prevent lubricant degradation. Visual management of the storage area was improved by sealing and color-coding the floor.
Vertical, horizontal and 3-D bull’s-eye sight glasses were also installed to help monitor oil inside the equipment. This has enabled mill personnel to inspect the oil and take appropriate actions.
Other equipment modifications involved adding quick disconnects, breathers and oil sample ports on gearboxes and major pumps, which has allowed technicians to perform maintenance and inspections without having to vent hydraulic systems to the atmosphere. The quick disconnects are used to drain and refill equipment without introducing contaminants as well as to eliminate the possibility of oil spills while permitting the use of filtration systems.
Kruszwica is Poland’s largest processor of oil seeds and maker of vegetable fats. Its Brzeg plant focuses on manufacturing consumer margarines and bottling vegetable oils. After years of reading Machinery Lubrication magazine, plant personnel were inspired to make improvements to their lubrication management system.
Previously at the Brzeg plant, lubricants
were dirty and not labeled.
In Kruszwica’s new lube room, clean
lubricants are clearly labeled, and
material safety data sheets are
kept next to each lubricant.
The plant’s lube storage room was originally constructed in 2006. It featured oil totes standing on pallets with trays positioned underneath for possible leaks. Lubricants were dirty and not labeled. Material safety data sheets (MSDS) were also not made available.
Over the next several years, many changes were implemented. Oil barrels were placed on special stands for a safer and cleaner environment. Waste gearbox oil containers were purchased. The plant also began using colored caps on grease nipples, with each color associated with a different type of grease. Now the lube room has clean lubricants that are clearly labeled with an MSDS next to each one.
Recently, the plant began the process of creating centralized lubricant storage for all departments. Although its current lube room is small, it shows how significant changes can be made without much of a financial investment.
The Monroe County wastewater treatment facility in Rochester, New York, manages an average flow of approximately 110 million gallons per day in dry weather, with flows up to 620 million gallons per day during some rain events. The plant’s preventative maintenance crew is responsible for maintaining nearly 1,000 pieces of equipment, and it all starts in the lube room.
When plant personnel evaluated the condition of their lube room, they found it to be average. The room had been modified in 2012, but the crew wanted to take it to a higher level.
The first transformation involved establishing a method for tracking inventory levels of lubricants and supplies with proper re-order levels. Other key improvements included developing an oil analysis database, laying a non-slip floor, providing controlled access, adding better illumination, installing HVAC equipment for a controlled climate, displaying warning and safety signs, and keeping the room clean to prevent contamination.
Cabinets in Monroe County’s new lube room
hold grease guns, spray lubricants, filters and
The second phase of the lube room transformation began by upgrading the equipment. The storage area was designed to hold cabinets for grease guns, spray lubricants, level gauges, drain ports, safety equipment, filters, etc. Desiccant breathers were mounted on gearboxes to eliminate water-contaminated oil. A countertop workstation was set up, and old desks that cluttered the space were removed. Oil transfer containers were also purchased, and funnels are no longer allowed.
The new oil storage system helps establish a base oil cleanliness benchmark. It incorporates a breather, filter, suction hose and pump per tank, as well as safety features such as spill containment, auto shut-off dispensing faucets, and fire safety hoses and valves. The first-in/first-out (FIFO) method of rotating oil supplies is also used to prevent lubricant degradation.
Creating a successful lube room took desire. Staff members have been willing to push the envelope in their lube room practices and have adopted a positive attitude to help accomplish their goal.
Sakhalin Energy’s Prigorodnoye production complex on the southern shore of Russia’s Sakhalin Island consists of a liquefied natural gas plant and an oil export terminal. In October 2015, the company decided to improve its maintenance and reliability by implementing a lubrication excellence program. A plan was soon developed and a steering team formed to make the necessary changes.
Awareness of the criticality of lubricants for equipment health was raised by displaying posters on reliability boards. Attention was also paid to restructuring the lube room after a gemba walk revealed the existing room did not meet best practices.
Another area of focus at the site was increasing the skills of the lube technicians. Training materials were prepared on grease starvation, mixing of greases, overgreasing and other common errors. This helped personnel recognize the importance of their day-to-day work and improved their execution.
Standard operating procedures were also developed to provide clear guidance on greasing. The goal of these detailed procedures was to prevent any possible human-related mistakes during these tasks.
Sakhalin Energy's old lube room (left) did not meet
best-practice requirements. The new lube room (right)
showcases many of the site’s improvements in lubricant
storage and handling.
A color-coding system was another improvement that was implemented. Existing grease guns were color-coded, colored grease fitting caps were installed to protect equipment from grease contamination, and standard color-coded grease guns were purchased to replace the current models. A color-coded stamping system was also introduced. This involved the lube technician posting a special colored sign as work was completed.
As part of the new program, a survey was conducted to assess the efficiency of the complex’s current preventive maintenance. Taking into account proper calculations, failure history, manufacturer recommendations and condition monitoring data, greasing quantities and frequencies were adjusted. This resulted in increased mean time between failures and a 30-percent reduction in maintenance costs.
By transforming its lube room and lubricant storage and handling practices, along with practical training and simplified procedures, the site has seen its lube-related failures drop to zero. The contributions of the team at Sakhalin Energy have been recognized with special awards and tokens of appreciation, and the company already has plans to execute the next phase of its lubrication excellence program.
The Simmons Feed Ingredients plant in Southwest City, Missouri, produces high-quality animal nutrition for pet food, aquaculture and livestock. Five years ago, the facility was experiencing one equipment breakdown after another, with some costing in excess of $200,000. These oil-related failures were due to water and other contaminants in the oil as well as poor lubricant storage and handling practices. Bulk lubricants were being stored in the plant, and gear units were being filled from open, dirty buckets and pails. The plant was also lacking standards, metrics, training and knowledge.
Simmons’ new lube room provides a cool, clean and dry environment
to extend the life of its oil.
After learning about proactive maintenance and world-class practices, Simmons built a new oil storage area with gravity-fed storage totes, color-coded transfer containers and tags for the equipment. The upgraded bulk oil storage system not only filters the oil, but each lubricant has its own dedicated pump so there is less chance for cross-contamination. Every oil type has a color-coded hose to match the tank color. All lubricant containers have also been color-coded and dedicated to a specific oil or grease.
The new centralized, climate-controlled lube room features an epoxy floor, color-coded oil transfer carts and grease guns, a stainless-steel work table and sink, an eyewash station, and a dishwasher to sanitize transfer equipment. All of the plant’s lubricants are now completely isolated from one another and kept in a cool, clean and dry environment to extend the life of the oil.
Standards were also created to require a sample from new oil drums upon arrival. If the oil sample does not meet the plant’s ISO code standards, the drum is returned to the vendor and a replacement drum is delivered. This was one of the most important changes, as it helps ensure that all oils meet the required specifications before entering the plant’s system.
Lubricant consolidation was another important improvement at the plant, as almost half of the site’s lubricant stock was able to be eliminated. Many procedures were also simplified. With the new standards, training and procedures, production downtime has been reduced by 50 percent.
Simmons’ journey to lubrication excellence continues. The plant has some work to do in upgrading its equipment and getting all of its lubrication routes set up in the computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). While the facility may still experience machine failures, very few are oil-related.
Solge manufactures filtering machines at its site in Daegu, South Korea. With each machine undergoing quality testing, the company needed a clean environment to perform the tests. This would require improving its lube room. At the time, lubricants were not sealed and were contaminated by moisture and particles in the air.
Before improvements were made (left), lubricants in the Solge lube room were not sealed and were contaminated by moisture and particles in the air. To block moisture and particles, desiccant breathers were mounted on top of the oil tanks (right).
Among the many changes made included adding gauges to monitor oil levels, creating additional storage for lubrication tools and using stainless-steel material for storage tanks to help prevent corrosion. Desiccant breathers were mounted on top of the tanks to block moisture and particles, while a clear sight glass was positioned at the bottom to monitor the oil’s condition. A large inspection window was also placed on top of each tank for easy and convenient cleaning. To improve the oil cleanliness level, pumps and filters were installed on the tanks. Finally, a heater was employed to help maintain the optimal temperature during winter.
Solge is now better able to control the contamination of its new oils as well as any oils treated by purifiers. Lubricants are fully protected from outside contaminants, which has allowed them to remain in good condition longer.
The Paradise Fossil Plant, which is located on the west bank of the Green River in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, produces more than 7 million megawatt hours of electricity per year. During construction of two of its generating units, a common oil-dispensing room was designated and equipped to house and supply the different oil types required for all powerhouse equipment.
The original oil-dispensing system featured 55-gallon metal totes arranged on a steel rack that was attached to a wall. The basic system was designed to allow each tote to be filled from a 55-gallon drum using a common pump. The common pump frequently was not flushed properly between use, which caused cross-contamination. Every tote had a transparent sight glass in front to indicate the internal oil level. However, the sight glasses quickly became discolored, resulting in unknown oil levels. A rubber hose was attached to the tote connection in the back and routed to a series of dispensing valves situated below the totes and in-line above a spill trough. This design provided easy gravity-fed oil dispensing into transfer containers but offered no internal oil filtration.
Clutter was common in the old oil-dispensing room
at the Paradise Fossil Plant.
The totes were not manufactured for desiccant breather installation, so as air entered the totes, airborne dirt, moisture and contaminants could easily pass into the system. The oil transfer process led to oily and slippery floor conditions, posing safety risks. The nature of the system’s operation also produced unnecessary clutter. When the system was disassembled, a residual buildup was observed in the bottom of each tote, which contributed to new oil contamination. In addition, some totes were not properly labeled, increasing the potential of using the wrong oil.
When plant personnel attended a 2014 conference presentation on the best practices for an oil-dispensing room, it became obvious that the plant had a great opportunity for improvement. After considerable research and deliberation, a new 55-gallon drum workstation was selected to replace the existing oil-dispensing system. Two workstation dispensers were initially ordered for testing and evaluation. Shortly thereafter, 19 additional oil-dispensing workstations were purchased for a total cost of approximately $100,000.
The new room is bright, clean and free of clutter. All
workstations, drums and oil containers are color-coded
and labeled to reduce the possibility of using the wrong oil.
With the new workstations, oil is dispensed directly from each new 55-gallon drum. The possibility of oil cross-contamination and particle buildup no longer exists. Desiccant breathers have been installed on each drum to minimize moisture and dirt intrusion. The workstation valves allow oil to be filtered and dispensed directly into smaller transfer containers or filtered back into the drum to improve cleanliness. Sight glasses are no longer necessary, as it is readily apparent when the oil level in a drum is low. The process for replacing drums and filling transfer containers results in fewer oil drips and spills on the concrete floor. Clutter and safety risks have been virtually eliminated. All workstations, drums and transfer containers are also properly color-coded and labeled to reduce the possibility of using the wrong oil.
This rehabilitation project has completely transformed the way lube oil is managed at the plant. The bright and freshly painted room now provides a clean and safe environment for storing and dispensing oil. The success of the project demonstrates how significant improvements can be achieved when operations, maintenance, engineering and vendors work together.