Managing Change in Your Lubrication Program

Noria Corporation

The goals of production and maintenance are rarely the same at first glance. But the underlying target is to produce high-quality products, with few defects, as reliably as possible. On the surface, this requires a holistic approach to planned, procedure-based maintenance and reliability including your lubrication program.

It seems, though, that each facility I audit has had some success with a lubrication program at one point, but because of change in product, process or demand, the program has failed because there was little management of change built into the program.

Procedure-based Maintenance
In previous issues of Practicing Oil Analysis, I've explored the issues surrounding procedure-based maintenance. We know that procedure-based maintenance is a strategic and tangible method for maintaining equipment. We know that collecting data on current maintenance, production and operating methods, analyzing the information and continuously improving on it through technology, heuristics and proven techniques, then documenting the information in a user database is a critical step to success in procedure-based maintenance, especially in a lubrication program.

Simply executing procedure-based lubrication is not enough. It is a safe assumption that as soon as you engineer the program (determine optimum lubrication type, calculate lubrication quantity and frequency and develop the procedures that incorporate these values), the information may require change or risk becoming obsolete.

Consider a single bearing in a much larger train of working components. One lubrication point of many on this system is an idler roll bearing that is working for two shifts each day, five days per week - the same as the rest of the components on the machine. The engineered lubrication program calls for a lithium-complex NLGI2 antiwear grease with a synthetic base oil of 100 centistokes. In our procedure, this would be represented by LX-2-100-S-PAO-AW (according to Noria's standard Lubrication Identification System). The volume of grease for relubrication has been calculated at 0.82 fluid ounce and the relubrication frequency has been determined to be every three months based on the 80-hour work week.

Third Shift is a Charm
So what happens when production calls for a third shift? A third shift equates to 50 percent more production per day. Obviously, the relubrication cycle of this bearing and likely all other lube points on this machine need to be adjusted. Without a management of change procedure in place, it is likely that the relubrication cycles do not get adjusted.

So how do we ensure that our procedures stay up to date so the early success achieved in our procedure-based lubrication program can be sustained for the life of the equipment? The answer is a dynamic database of values fed to procedure templates. The values can be updated as needed. For instance, running time in hours, units produced, scheduled and unscheduled downtime can be factored into the data. The data can be updated as required, so when it comes time to execute the procedure, the most up-to-date data populates the procedure template. The database of values and the procedure templates are combined in a mail-merge creating the most up-to-date and accurate job plans possible.

Dynamic Management
Of course, the data, the procedures and any templates are only as dynamic as you determine. If you do not update information critical to maintenance, related to production, the data will cease to be accurate. Without a system to manage these changes, the task can be overwhelming to near impossible. Take for example our single bearing on our much larger equipment train. The bearing has a relubrication procedure attached to it. A similar procedure may be attached to the other 12 bearings in this train. The train also includes an electric motor, gearbox, universal joint and drive chains. Altogether, this system could have 40 or 50 individual procedures attached to it. Multiply this by the number of similar-sized trains in your facility, then factor in a number for smaller trains (10 procedures) and medium-sized trains (25 procedures). You will find that a well-defined lubrication program will incorporate thousands of procedures. Manually changing these procedures would be a full-time job and likely a futile effort.

Using a system that allows for dynamic management of change and allows for data feedback from the field to keep the database dynamic and evolving is the smart way to manage change in your lubrication program.

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