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Machinery Lubrication recently asked readers to participate in its annual Lube Room Challenge by submitting exceptional lube rooms that incorporate best-practice features. Several readers met the challenge with evidence of how their lubricant storage and dispensing methods have been transformed. The following entries showcase how designing a proper lube room is one of the first steps to achieving lubrication excellence.
The Calumet refinery in Superior, Wis., processes 35,000 barrels of sweet and sour crude oil from Canada and the Dakotas. Approximately 160 employees work at this site, where the finished products include a variety of specialty fuels and asphalts.
With eight different lubricant suppliers, including one that was less than a mile from the facility, the refinery took a hard look at its lubrication program in order to reduce the number of oils purchased and determine how the entire system could be simplified.
Before improvements were made, the Calumet lube room was unorganized with drums,
cans, pumps, buckets and funnels. The new lube room incorporates stackable poly tanks
and color-coded, labeled and contained dispensers.
The lube room was unorganized with drums, cans, pumps, buckets and funnels. Labeling for the type of lubricant wasn’t clear, which created numerous errors of the wrong lubricant being placed in machines. Pumps were pulled from one drum and placed into another, while containers were interchanged without labels or lids.
In taking steps to consolidate and organize, the refinery switched from buckets and funnels to color-coded, labeled and contained dispensers. Other improvements were made using stackable poly tanks, breathers, vent lines, bull’s-eye sight glasses, oil level indicators, dedicated lubrication systems and lube oil metering systems. Calumet also purchased a number of metal safety cabinets to store needed lubricants near the machinery. The cabinets are steam-heated and kept clean and organized. The right lube is now handy when it’s needed.
As part of the changes, Calumet provided best-practices awareness training for maintenance and operations personnel. Many superintendents and managers attended the classes as well. Following the training, an equipment and reliability lubrication technician position was created. The pump mechanic who was promoted into this position became responsible for closely monitoring equipment for the correct lubrication, expanding the current preventative maintenance program, coordinating the oil analysis program, working closely with the vibration analysis contractor, maintaining the oil storage facility, monitoring inventories and developing a close working relationship with operators.
The operations and maintenance departments have appreciated all of these changes. Mistakes have greatly decreased, and the wrong lubricant is no longer put into compressors, pumps or gearboxes. While it hasn’t yet achieved world-class lubrication, the Calumet Superior refinery knows it’s on the right path.
Cloud Peak Energy’s Spring Creek mine
converted an old electrical
into a lube room.
The lube room at Cloud Peak Energy’s Spring Creek mine near Decker, Mont., began as an old electrical motor-control-center trailer. Although the trailer was well-insulated and sealed, a location had to be chosen that would be centrally located yet separate from washdown and processing. Once the old electrical components were removed, the lube room was equipped with a fire-suppression system and a new heating/air-conditioning unit for climate control. The floor was then painted with a chemical-resistant, anti-slip coating. Sealed hazardous environment lighting and a new door with a window were also added.
Concrete was poured around the lube room, and concrete heating was installed on the loading dock. The completed loading dock features a handrail and a jib crane that allows lubricants to be loaded and unloaded in and out of the lube room. Portable oil totes were modified so lubricants could be moved to remote locations via overhead/vehicle-mounted cranes.
After consolidating to eight lubricating
oils, the mine purchased eight 65-gallon
containers for makeup oil reservoirs.
Additional 65-gallon containers are used
for larger lubricant requirements. There
is also a portable cart for each oil type.
An audit of the mine’s lubricants determined that it could consolidate down to eight separate lubricants. Eight 65-gallon containers were then purchased to be utilized as makeup oil reservoirs. Additional 65-gallon containers are used for larger lubricant requirements. A portable cart is employed for each oil type. Filtration units were also mounted for all of the mine’s reservoirs.
The lube dispenser was equipped with a custom stainless-steel drip tray. The system is designed to continually filter oil in the top “makeup” oil reservoir.
During the lubrication audit, the number of greases was consolidated to six types. Containers were purchased to store all grease on hand. Reducing the stock on hand helps guarantee that grease is circulated more frequently, decreasing bleed and separation. A work order ensures that grease is restocked weekly.
All “plant-wide” grease guns were disposed of, and a new grease gun was designated for each type of grease. These are the only grease guns used in the plant. A custom holder was fabricated to hold these grease guns, allowing users to identify which guns are currently in use. Tags were posted at each grease gun pocket, identifying the grease gun location. Only clear tubes are used to reduce cross-contamination of greases. Greases that are used for electric motor lubrication have been equipped with grease-dispensing meters. The other grease guns are calibrated and equipped with a tag, which includes the volume dispensed per pump and the date checked.
A desk was dedicated to house all oil analysis equipment and procedures. A large bulletin board is used for posting all current oil analysis/filter analysis results. This allows every mechanic to have access to all the results. It also provides a “dashboard” for problematic equipment.
When Domtar’s paper mill in Kingsport, Tenn., decided to improve its lubrication process, the goal was to become world class in managing inventory and dispensing oils. The mill’s new process incorporates several best practices such as color-coding, labels, drum racks, first-in/first-out (FIFO), drum top units for oil filtering, handheld technology and new systems for transferring and dispensing lubricants.
A new oil storage and dispensing system at Domtar’s Kingsport mill has
eliminated wasted space, time and labor.
Domtar’s investment in a new oil storage and dispensing system has eliminated wasted space, time and labor. Inventory is now properly maintained, and employees have a much safer and more ergonomic working environment. Inefficient lubricant transfer is avoided with the new system, while clean-up from spills, labor costs and absorbent purchases have decreased. The number of in-process drums and employee downtime have also been reduced. Oil is now filtered before being dispensed, which has improved the cleanliness level.
Drum racks have improved oil storage in the mill’s lube room.
New visuals have helped to prevent cross-contamination and ensure that FIFO is followed. The job aides and work instructions also guarantee that all employees use the same process.
New oil transfer containers have helped to prevent cross-contamination.
When performing lube routes, the mill utilizes barcoding with a maintenance management system. This has eliminated cross-contamination when adding oil or greasing the equipment. The correct lubricant is displayed when the equipment is scanned during an inspection. The system also tracks usage and records inventory. Lube routes are uploaded each week with an electronic record of the findings, including who performed the route, the date and time, the equipment status and any comments. The user also has the capability to enter a work request in the field on a handheld device.
FIFO/ISO code labels and work instructions are used to
ensure employees follow best practices.
In 2012, the Monroe County wastewater treatment facility in Rochester, N.Y., evaluated the condition of its lube room and found it to be “average.” Plant personnel realized there was more to building a lube room than just cleaning up a space and installing oil dispensing and transferring devices. A lot of research needed to be done.
Proper inventory tracking of lubricants
and supplies helped transform the lube room
at the Monroe County wastewater
A wall was knocked down to make the room bigger. However, the first true transformation occurred when proper inventory tracking of lubricants and supplies was implemented along with the creation of an oil analysis database.
Other additions to the improved lube room included a non-slip floor, controlled access, adequate illumination and proper warning and safety signs. An upgraded heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system was added for a controlled climate. Most importantly, the room was kept clean to prevent potential contamination.
The facility also evaluated where and how lubricants were stored. By placing lubricants in a climate-controlled environment, the plant found it could reduce chemical degradation and oxidation. Rotating oil supplies and using the first-in/first-out (FIFO) method also prevented lubricant degradation.
Color-coded lubricant transfer containers (left) ensure accurate delivery
of clean lubricant. The new oil storage and dispensing system (right) incorporates
a breather, filter, suction hose and pump per tank.
The storage area was designed to accommodate cabinets for grease guns, spray lubricants, level gauges, drain ports, equipment tags, safety equipment, filters, etc. Desiccant breathers for gearboxes were used to eliminate water-contaminated oil, while new color-coded lubricant transfer containers helped ensure the accurate delivery of clean lubricant from bulk storage to the gearboxes.
A base oil cleanliness benchmark was established with the help of a new oil storage and dispensing system. The system incorporates a breather, filter, suction hose and pump per tank, as well as safety features such as spill containment, auto shut-off dispensing faucets and fire-safety hoses and valves.
Above all, the staff’s attitude was instrumental in creating a successful lube room, as personnel were willing to do whatever was needed to accomplish the goal.
With 14 miles of conveyor belt operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Peabody Energy’s North Antelope Rochelle Mine in Wright, Wyo., is the largest coal producer in North America. When the mine started its journey to improve its lubrication program, drums were being stored outside and were exposed to the elements. Lubricant storage also took place in various areas of the plant, including next to gearboxes, for faster top-off capabilities.
Before improving its lubrication program, Peabody Energy’s North Antelope Rochelle Mine stored drums outside and dispensed oil without caps.
In addition, the lubricant handling process was very labor intensive. The plant did not have the ability to deliver filtered oil from bulk storage to assets. Oil was dispensed without any caps, and grease types were not identified on the various grease guns.
Eventually, a centrally located, environmentally controlled lube storage building was constructed specifically for plant lubrication products. A new fluid storage and dispensing system was purchased, and each oil type was designated a specific color. The wire ties on hoses now match the applicable oil.
A centrally located, environmentally controlled lube storage building (left) was constructed specifically for plant lubrication products. A new fluid storage and dispensing system (right) was purchased, with each oil type designated a specific color.
Other upgrades included new grease and filter storage, lubricant transfer containers with color-coded lids for oil identification, a new barrel handler and dispensing valves for oils. Each oil is now filtered from bulk storage to lubricant transfer containers. With these changes, the mine has seen its ISO codes improve from 22/21/13 to 20/15/12.
Sask Power’s Poplar River Power Station (PRPS) in Saskatchewan, Canada, recently launched a project to improve its ability to deliver clean oil to all of its equipment. With the support of management as well as the plant manager, the process began with 30 years of grease and oil being cleaned off the floor. The floor and walls were then painted. Next, lubricant transfer containers and 70-gallon totes were purchased, along with breathers, filter carts and a pressure washer to clean the equipment.
Poplar River Power Station’s lube room was nothing to be proud of
prior to its project to deliver clean oil to equipment.
Now oil is filtered within the barrel seven to 10 times, then filtered and pumped into the color-coded totes. It is also understood that oilers do not go home at the end of the day until the floors are washed and everything is as clean and orderly as it was in the morning.
The new lube room features a clean and painted floor,
color-coded totes, breathers, filter carts and a pressure washer.
The plant is continuing to add breathers and color-code its equipment. Gearboxes are also being flushed and washed out as time permits. The goal is to reduce the number of oils while delivering clean oil to clean equipment with proper seals and breathers. With the help of the oilers, operators, mechanics and all the staff at PRPS, the plant is achieving the success for which it had hoped.
Visy Paper’s previous lube storage was in a partially open area,
making it difficult to keep lubricant containers clean, cool and dry.
Visy Paper recently completed a lubrication management and cleanliness improvement initiative across all its paper mills in Australia. As part of the program, the mills in Sydney now have a new custom-designed and constructed lube room for best practices in lubricant receiving, conditioning, storage and dispensing.
Inside the lube room are three large tanks,
each with its own pump unit for receiving,
storing, conditioning and delivering
heavy-usage lubricant grades
to system tanks.
The previous lube storage was in a partially open area, which made it difficult to keep lubricant containers clean, cool and dry. It also had very limited storage for a large number of oil barrels and grease pails. Although lubricant types and grades were separated, it was challenging to always keep them in the allocated space.
The newly designed lube room is located inside another large shed with ventilation, lighting and facilities for cool, clean and dry storage of lubricants and containers. Color-coded and sign-posted areas along with lubricant transfer containers for storage and transport of various lubricant types and grades help avoid the possibility of cross-contamination.
The new lube room incorporates shelves and hangers for storing grease pails, grease guns, filters and oil samples. It also includes a workbench for small repairs and oil sample packaging, as well as a fire-extinguisher station, a smoke alarm, a spill kit and slip-resistant epoxy paint on the floor.
The newly designed lube room has color-coded areas along with lubricant transfer
containers for storage and transport of various lubricant types and grades.
Inside the lube room are three large tanks, each with its own pump unit for receiving, storing, conditioning and delivering heavy-usage lubricant grades to system tanks. These storage tanks use piping and cam-locks to receive bulk oil deliveries from the supplier, and have oil sampling and level monitoring facilities to ensure oil quality and cleanliness. The pump units are piped to main system tanks so oil can be delivered easily to individual system tanks without the possibility of cross-contamination or ingress.
With bulk delivery and storage of heavy-use lubricant grades in new bulk tanks, the problem of barrel handling and storage has been diminished considerably.