Top Ten Ways Not to be World Class at Machinery Lubrication

Jim Fitch, Noria Corporation
Tags: industrial lubricants

1. Begin by not reading this editorial. Most “old school” lube programs like to hold to the status quo. Editorials like this one threaten their comfort zone. After all, change takes guts . . . it takes imagination . . . it takes commitment. Who’s got the time (and courage) for that?

2. Oil is oil. Use the one that’s near and convenient. Don’t waste your time worrying about whether a particular lubricant is “perfectly suited” for a machine. What does it matter? Relax . . . if the machine fails it will take a while, and then, who could prove it was associated with the lubricant?

3. Pretend to be saving money by buying your lubricants from the lowest bidder. Management will label you as being cost conscious. Ignore claims from higher priced lubricant suppliers of their more robust basestocks and higher quality additive packages. Such claims are just hype and jive anyway . . . right?

4. Keep your lubrication technicians on the lowest pay scale. Don’t encourage them to aspire to that of a “skilled” worker or a member of the trade. This only rocks the boat and leads to an increase in labor cost. After all, anyone who can walk and chew gum at the same time can lubricate a machine, right? These kinds of people should be the lowest paid.

5. Don’t develop procedures and guidelines on how to lubricate your machinery. If there’s no procedure, there’s no documented right or wrong way of doing it. This keeps things flexible, allowing technicians to customize their work to suit themselves. Who wants the hassle of having to conform to someone else’s “best practices” anyway?

6. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Even if machines fail repeatedly, don’t change anything. After all, why change what’s better left alone? And, what do others know about how to lubricate your machinery anyway? Your old-timers have decades of knowledge and experience about lubrication. If there was a better way of lubricating machines they would be the first to tell you. There’s really nothing to worry about.

7. Don’t waste money on oil analysis. It’s a gimmick cooked up by lubricant suppliers to sell oil changes . . . and pad their pockets. It’s better to just change oil according to a rigid schedule, whether it needs to be changed or not. And, don’t believe the claims of some labs that oil analysis can alert you to impending machine failure. Only vibration analysis can really do that.

8. Ignore the warnings that contaminated oil harms your bearings, pumps and other component surfaces. These people are just alarmists and don’t know what they are talking about. Who could believe that dirt in oil so small and low in concentration could cause a problem to a big, powerful machine of steel? If filters were needed, the equipment manufacturer would have included them in the design (regardless of the date it was designed). And, for those machines that have filters, don’t bother to upgrade them.

9. If you want improved reliability, buy better gears and bearings. When bearings fail repeatedly, it’s not the fault of the lubricant. Everyone knows that all machines wear out eventually. You hire mechanics and millwrights for the purpose of fixing these routine problems. That’s their job.

10. Don’t waste your money on education. When it comes to lubrication and oil analysis there’s really nothing new. Besides, if you provide your lubrication technicians with education, they would just come back and do things the same way. We all know that seminars and conferences are just an excuse for not working. Don’t be foolish. Give them a book to read instead. And, by all means, don’t get them certified in the areas of lubrication and oil analysis. It just feeds their egos.

Jim Fitch


About the Author

Jim Fitch, a founder and CEO of Noria Corporation, has a wealth of experience in lubrication, oil analysis, and machinery failure investigations. He has advised hundreds of companies on developing their lubrication and oil analysis programs. Contact Jim at

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