Raising Awareness of Lubrication's Role in Asset Management

Suzy Hitchcock, ICML


A key principle of asset management, as described in the recently published ISO 55000 standard, is fitness for purpose. This is the objective or intent of continuous improvement: failure elimination and prevention. As such, fitness for purpose is a primary attribute of any asset management program and can be applied to all levels of asset management, including lubrication.

Thanks to the passion and persistence of volunteers at the International Council for Machinery Lubrication (ICML) and its allies involved in the development of this new standard, the concepts of preventive actions and the basis of condition monitoring were not left out of this standard as initially feared.

For the purposes of asset management, monitoring is defined as determining the status of an asset, which is typically referred to as condition monitoring. Preventive actions are described as actions taken to prevent occurrence (of failure) and to preserve an asset’s function, whereas corrective actions are taken to prevent recurrence.

Reliability and availability are included as parameters in the definition of the level of service under terms relating to asset management. The concept of failure elimination for increased reliability in physical assets, along with the role of preventive actions including condition monitoring, is thus incorporated.

As the most quoted standard in industry, ISO 55000 is quite significant. For ICML’s mission in advocating the criticality of lubrication practitioners and the impact world-class lubrication can have in organizations with lubricated assets, this is an important step.

It is well-documented that more than 80 percent of mechanical wear is caused by lubricant contamination and that 70 percent of lost machine life relates to surface degradation. World-class lubrication practices address the root causes of these failures and undoubtedly are the most controllable factor, thus ensuring the highest level of return on the necessary investment.

At organizations where reliability is at world-class levels, root cause analysis of machinery failure is performed by a team comprised of multi-skilled personnel, where lubrication practitioners are viewed as a requirement and permanent members of staff. Training is considered an investment, not a cost, and personnel certification is seen as an asset risk-management activity, not a people management tool.

Lubrication is regarded as a foundation of asset management, not just as a low-priority maintenance task. The results, which are documented in case studies from companies around the world, include savings in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, considerable component life extensions and rates of return of more than a thousand percent.

The commonalities between such world-class organizations are much in line with the criteria defined by the ICML for its two awards: the John R. Battle award for lubrication excellence and the Augustus H. Gill award for oil analysis excellence. The awards criteria were created to guide companies in their journey toward excellence in these two critical areas.

For more than a decade, the ICML awards programs have been identifying and recording the results of organizations that are committed to improving the reliability of their lubricant-dependent assets through the application of best practices in the management and monitoring of their lubricants.

The timing of ISO 55000’s publication is an encouraging sign that industry is realizing the need to eliminate unnecessary failures to achieve the maximum anticipated service life of its assets. Indeed, performing the basics correctly will ensure the highest return on investment. When it comes to getting back to the basics, the best lubrication practices coupled with properly trained, respected and supported lubrication technicians are just plain common sense.

For more information on ICML's Battle or Gill awards or to submit your plant’s program for one of these awards, visit www.lubecouncil.org. The awards are open to end-user companies worldwide independent of any involvement with ICML. Applications must be submitted online by plant personnel. Industry stakeholders may recommend a program by emailing info@lubecouncil.org. ICML will then contact the end-user plant with your referral.

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