Benefits of Improved Lube Storage

Noria Corporation
Tags: lubricant storage and handling


(Before) The lubricant storage and dispensing
areas at the City Utilities plant had
been cluttered and disorganized.


(After) Lubricant barrels are now
stored in a racking system, and a new lubricant
storage and dispensing system was placed
into service in 2017.

City Utilities (CU) is a municipally owned utility serving Springfield, Missouri. CU owns and operates two coal-fired generation units as well as a number of gas turbines and a landfill gas-to-energy project. In 2015, a lubrication management survey revealed many areas for improvement throughout the power generation facilities, including lubricant chemistry, cleanliness, testing, and lubricant storage and handling.

A system of separate dispensing tanks had been in service for some time. However, the tanks were open to the atmosphere, had no filtration capability, and utilized a single pump system and combined piping for filling and dispensing all stored lubricants. In addition, the tank system was located in an open area of the station adjacent to an open delivery and maintenance bay, which was exposed to dust and other pollutants associated with the coal-fired power plant.

In 2017, a storage and handling system was placed into service. A new state-of-the-art dispensing system is now located in a closed room away from the dust and heat of the plant. The new dispensing system features separate pumps, filters and piping for each lubricant, and every tank utilizes desiccant breathers for ventilation. Dispensing jugs used for transferring smaller quantities of fluid are also stored inside closed cabinets in the new lube room, as opposed to open shelving. For larger quantities, transfer pumps with filters specifically matched to the application are now used. To minimize the chances of cross-contamination, lubricant tanks and jugs are coded with a color and shape which correspond to coded tags on the lube points of various machines.

Bulk lubricant storage has been another area of significant improvement. Oil barrels previously were stored both inside and outside in a very disorganized manner. The lubrication management survey also revealed many consolidation opportunities. Through consolidation and organization, the lubricant inventory has been reduced from more than 100 barrels to nearly 30. Furthermore, every new barrel of oil is sampled prior to entering the inventory.

Other lubrication program improvements that have been or are being implemented include regular sampling of machinery, sealing up lubrication systems, improving in-line filtration, installing desiccant breathers and adding quick disconnects to facilitate clean oil transfers and lubricant filtering. The organization currently has three technicians who are trained and certified as a Level I Machine Lubricant Analyst, with more to receive training in the future.

When the utility first began implementing these changes, the overall state of in-service lubricants showed only 60 percent at a severity of 0 or 1 (good/acceptable) and 24 percent with a severity of 3 or 4 (bad/unacceptable). Today, 90 percent have a severity of 0 or 1, and only 3 percent remain at a severity of 3, with none in the severity 4 range.

Although there is still quite a bit of work remaining to achieve world-class status, the improvements that have been made are paying off in greater equipment reliability and economic benefits.

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