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In the midst of the current economic turmoil, it’s not surprising that company boardrooms around the world are operating under the ‘Cash is King’ mantra. Efficiency and productivity are high on their agenda as a result. Now more than ever, plant managers are looking for ways to improve equipment reliability, optimize maintenance and reduce energy consumption. Often they are doing so by challenging the status quo and experimenting with new ideas. Retraining their staff to use effective lubrication techniques is proving to be another approach to obtain needed efficiencies.
Using a superior lubricant will not prevent lubrication problems, nor will upgrading to new and improved equipment. The Molykote brand lubricant team encourages plants to consider the 6 “R’s” when selecting a lubricant team to accomplish maintenance and lubrication goals.
There are two groups of people critical to the lubricant team:
· The employees implementing the plan and
· The lubricant supplier team that ensures proper training and brings outside expertise.
· There are many lubricant logistics suppliers, but few lubrication experts. A good lubricant supplier provides the expertise, training and tools you need to properly maintain your production line. They should also offer a comprehensive product line that fills all your lubrication needs. Plant managers should expect a comprehensive suite of services from their supplier to facilitate lubrication management. If your supplier does not offer products and services tailored to help you achieve best in class lubrication and maintenance practices, find one that does.
The old standard most plants use for lubrication intervals is time-based. Today’s plants use a mixture of new oils and greases, making dependence on time alone unreliable.
Let condition monitoring be your guide. There are many condition monitoring methods designed to optimize maintenance, such as oil analysis. Condition monitoring methods help optimize performance and minimize maintenance costs. They also help maximize equipment uptime and subsequent production capacity by aligning maintenance activities to reduce the impact to production demands.
Site-specific applications impose their own requirements. For example, food processing equipment subject to daily wash downs requires gearbox and conveyor chain lubricants that resist emulsification. Knowledgeable lubricant suppliers understand such applications and know the right lubricants to use at the right place and time. Their expertise helps maintenance professionals avoid mistakes in lubricant selection and application that can shorten equipment life and unexpectedly halt production.
Plants need to determine how much lubricant is needed and be sure that lubrication best practices are properly implemented. Dedicated lubrication management software is a powerful tool to schedule, supervise, and record a consolidated lubrication program. It complements oil analysis by collecting trend data and developing responsive lubrication schedules. A typical large plant requires the plant lubrication team to track a complex schedule of lubricants and applications. Tracking usage can be an important indicator of developing problems or misunderstanding of lubrication procedures.
Suppliers best equipped to meet requirements for diverse lubricating solutions are those offering a complete line of industrial lubricants, not just a “wide range” of products. The full-line supplier must also be able to draw on functional additive technologies including anti-oxidant, anti-wear and extreme temperature additives.
A thorough oil analysis program can track critical wear-related characteristics of oil in service by comparing the results with previous reports and noting the trends. This helps identify contamination, lubricant degradation, abnormal machine wear and problems with sampling. It can also incorporate activities such as vibration analysis, infrared thermography and ultrasonic monitoring to transform a lubrication program from time-based to condition-based, eliminating unnecessary changes.
The Right Track
Many lubrication suppliers have begun to offer tools to help customers understand savings potential. For example, the Molykote Energy Saving Calculator was created to help plant managers understand potential energy and emissions savings through proper lubrication techniques. This calculator, which can be found at www.molykote.com, allows the user to adjust different entry options, power values and costs in order to simulate plant operation conditions.
Discovering where plants can be more efficient plays a great role in a successful lubrication system. Molykote lubrication suppliers and other high-quality lubrication suppliers work with their clients to analyze troublesome pieces of equipment while looking for improvement areas which can lead to savings. With an effective lubrication system, plant managers can achieve longer machinery life and reduce down-time between planned maintenance to improve production performance and bottom-line profitability.