Study Shows Lubrication Errors Cost Manufacturers $250,000 in Downtime

Noria news wires

Manufacturing companies estimate that 70 percent of their unplanned equipment shutdowns in the last three years were due to incorrect lubricant selection or management, according to a study by Shell Lubricants. One in five companies estimates incurring costs of more than $250,000 as a result of these shutdowns. For the industry in North America alone, improved lubrication practices could mean potential savings in excess of $38 million.

"The impact of lubrication on productivity and maintenance costs is often underestimated," said Yin Jie, Shell's global sector manager for general manufacturing. "This is not just about selecting the right lubricants, but ensuring they are properly applied and managed."

The international study of manufacturing companies across Asia, Europe and the Americas revealed a lack of understanding about how effective lubrication can impact equipment productivity and total cost of ownership (TCO). More than half of manufacturing companies surveyed admitted they were unclear about how lubrication management can influence unplanned downtime, while 46 percent don't expect lubrication to help lower maintenance costs.

With a gap in staff expertise on lubrication and only 34 percent of businesses benefiting from regular visits from their lubricant supplier's technical staff, most are not well-equipped to take action. Only 42 percent of companies have all the correct procedures in place to manage lubricants effectively, and 63 percent think they don't conduct staff training on lubricants as regularly as they should.

"It was surprising to see that only 46 percent of companies believe product performance should be an important consideration when purchasing lubricants," Jie added. "A high-quality lubricant that keeps equipment clean of deposits and effectively protects against wear can help extend equipment life and reduce frequency of breakdowns. This could help manufacturing companies significantly decrease spend on spare parts and maintenance."

This study into lubrication procedures in the manufacturing industry was conducted by research firm Edelman Intelligence. It polled 493 manufacturing industry staff who purchase, influence the purchase or use lubricants/greases as part of their job across eight countries (Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) from November to December 2015.

Shell Lubricants has also published an accompanying white paper on the topic of lubrication and total cost of ownership, which contains case studies of manufacturing companies achieving cost savings through lubricant selection and management.

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