There are many things to consider when creating lubrication routes. A well-planned lube route will use step-by-step tasks to ensure consistency throughout the lubrication team, because no matter who performs the route, it should be executed the same way every time.
The first thing that should be identified in a lube route is the type of lubricant the machine uses. Viscosity is the most important lubricant property, and using a lubricant with the wrong viscosity could lead to machine and part wear. Another factor to keep in mind is that not all lubricants work well together. Mixing two incompatible lubricants could lead to machine and/or lubricant degradation.
Once the right lubricant has been determined, the focus shifts to the task being performed. Tasks generally can be broken into two groups: lube tasks and inspection tasks. If it is a lubrication task, you have already defined the correct lubricant, so you now need to know the lubrication method. This could be a simple top-up of oil, greasing a bearing, hand-packing a coupling or spraying a chain. Remember, every lube point must be identified. If it is a grease gun task, the amount of lubrication should be listed.
Inspection tasks are a critical part of lube routes but are often overlooked. Every point to be inspected on a machine should be listed within the lube route. Inspections can be divided into two categories: lubricant health and machine condition. Lubricant inspections would include checking for dark or discolored oils, seeing water in a bottom sediment bowl, or detecting foam in the oil. Examples of machine inspections would be checking the gearbox temperature or for leakage around seals.
Lube routes should also have a reporting section. This provides the technician a place to report his or her daily activities. The information in these reports might describe how much oil was added to a machine, when a desiccant breather was replaced or if a Zerk fitting was plugged during greasing. The reporting section is also where any notes from the machine inspections should be included. It can even be used for tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) or for creating work orders.
Finally, when developing lube routes, be sure to define in detail all aspects that the technician will see in the field. This would comprise all normal and abnormal results that the technician may encounter.