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While instructing a lubrication fundamentals course, I’m often asked, “What is the best return on investment in terms of lubrication?” Without hesitation, I’ve always answered that it is keeping the lubricant and machine clean, cool and dry. However, I’ve been lying to these people. Keeping the lubricant and machine clean, cool and dry is in fact very important, but it pales in comparison to education.
Until recently I’ve never taken a step back to view the whole picture. When an employee knows why it’s important to maintain these conditions, that’s when the company gets true value. This comes through education.
In regards to lubrication and oil analysis, the cost of an uneducated workforce is often overlooked. How many times after a failure has occurred have you thought back and realized it could have been avoided if you only would have known...?
It’s important to understand the difference between training and education. Training pertains to skills. For example, systematically running through an inspection checklist is a skill. I can provide people with a checklist to inspect a machine component using sensory inspection. This checklist might include things like desiccant breather color, level in a level gauge, leaks, etc. I would take them through the list and show them what the optimum reference state looks like. If what they see in the field does not match, there is a potential problem.
|70%||of lubrication professionals say knowing why to perform a task is more important than knowing how to perform a task, based on survey results from machinerylubrication.com|
On the other hand, education is not only knowing what the optimum reference state is but also why it must be that way. When education and training are combined, that’s when an organization gets the maximum return on investment. Rather than having a “droid” running through a checklist, when you introduce education with those skills, you get a dynamic, problem-solving, thinking employee. Don’t get me wrong; knowing how to perform a task is very important, but knowing why is where the real value is added.
Education can also be extremely valuable when trying to manage change. Let’s face it, people don’t like change. As a consultant, I deal with this on a daily basis. I’ve found that the best way to impart change on behavior is education. For instance, a few weeks ago I was in a plant and happened to witness an employee transferring lubricants in an open-top, dirty container. Rather than just telling him to use quick-connects and a sealed container, I educated him. After a simple 5-minute explanation of the effects of dirt and other contaminants to the hydraulic system he was about to top-up, and why it was important to keep the lubricant clean, he said, “That makes perfect sense. I don’t know why we haven’t been doing it that way the whole time.” Through education, I was able to change this person’s behavior in just 5 minutes.
To run an effective, world-class lubrication program, there is a great deal of knowledge to be absorbed. Once the decision is made to make improvements to your program, it is crucial that you decide what knowledge and to whom it must be distributed to facilitate quality implementation and execution.
Education and training should become core components of your lubrication program. Education not only will help with adherence to your defined best practices, but it also will ensure continuous improvement for years to come. Remember, the real value is not in the training of how but in the understanding of why.
There are costs associated with having a workforce that is not educated. The following highlights some of those costs.Expensive and Wasteful Oil Analysis