KPIs for Measuring Lubrication Program Success

Alejandro Meza, Noria Corporation

KPIs for Measuring Lubrication Program Success

“What gets measured gets managed” is a popular quote from business guru Peter Drucker.

While it may seem obvious that key performance indicators (KPIs) or metrics play an important role in the success of a lubrication program—what is not as apparent is defining the best metrics for assessing the program’s current status and guiding it to the desired level.

This article will explain how to select the right KPIs and implement them effectively.

One approach for developing a system of metrics is to visualize the program from a high-level perspective. What are the program’s goals? They should be stated as specifically as possible and include a time frame for completion.

Examples would be to improve the lubrication assessment score by 30 points within two years, to reduce bearing failure rates by “X” percent in three years, to implement oil analysis for 100 percent of the critical machines by the end of the year, or to install a new lube room in 12 months.

Some of these examples are more specific than others, but they all refer to relevant program initiatives. General objectives typically will be complemented with more explicit targets.

Setting a time frame will be essential to ensure program accountability. The time should be realistic based on the available resources but also challenging in order to achieve the expected results in a reasonable period.

An effective system of metrics will monitor whether the program’s goals are attained (implementation KPIs) and maintained (continuous KPIs). These types of metrics can identify areas that are performing well, others that require attention and those that will be helpful for estimating the benefits of the chosen strategy.

Temporary vs. Permanent KPIs

Temporary KPIs refer to transition or implementation periods. They should be used while the project or any changes relating to the transitory goals are ongoing. Examples of these types of goals and KPIs are shown in the table below.

The chart below highlights an implementation metric used as an indicator for monitoring and reporting the success of a lubrication program.

Permanent KPIs report or monitor processes, tasks, routines or conditions that have already been implemented and are expected to be in place for a long time. Most of the metrics discussed in this article would be considered permanent KPIs.


Temporary Goals and KPIs

General vs. Specific KPIs

It is possible to have more than one KPI for each goal. In addition, just as specific goals may be part of a more general goal, general KPIs can be a combination of more specific metrics. See the examples in the table below.

Macro vs. Micro KPIs

Macro and micro KPIs are a variation of general and specific KPIs. A micro KPI may be categorized by machine, individual, task, etc. On the other hand, a macro KPI could be a summary of various micro indicators condensed into a general metric.

An example of a micro indicator would be to determine if the contamination level of particles in a hydraulic system is within the target range. The answer or indicator is simply “yes” or “no.” The macro indicator would be the total percentage of hydraulic systems with a cleanliness level compliant with the target.

An even more general KPI would be the overall percentage of machines, including compressors, gearboxes, etc., that complied with the cleanliness level. See the illustration above for how general KPIs can be represented.

Leading vs. Lagging KPIs

Lagging indicators monitor events that happen as a result of a process or sequence of actions. They may trigger a corrective action or reactive maintenance. Examples of these types of KPIs would be the number of oil analysis reports with abnormal conditions, the number of individuals requiring specific training, the percentage of machines with abnormal vibration, etc.

Leading indicators are focused to anticipate potential failures or “non-conformities” and alert when action should be taken. These KPIs may report oil analysis results of the incoming lubricant, failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) of new machines to be installed, oil analysis information on an oil’s varnish potential, etc. The table below includes a combination of macro/micro and leading/lagging indicators.


General vs. Specific KPIs

Lubricant Life Cycle Metrics

For a complete report on the lubrication program’s status or progress, a comprehensive system of KPIs will be necessary to monitor the different elements.

A good approach is to consider the lubricant life cycle within the facility, including lubricant selection, reception and storage, handling and application, contamination control, lubricant analysis, disposal and safety requirements.

Lubricant Selection

This comprises the strategy and actions performed for the selection of the lubricant, the definition of its specifications and performance, identification and purchase processes, as well as the supplier assessment.

Examples of these metrics would include lubricant quality compliance at reception, implementation of the lubricant identification system (LIS) and lubricant specifications, compliance of the technical services versus the goals, and measuring the number of individuals with a Machine Lubrication Technician (MLT) certification who participate in the product decisions.

Reception and Storage