Is My Plant Environmentally Friendly? KPIs for Environmental Impact

Travis Richardson, Noria Corporation

There are multiple reasons to keep tabs on your plant’s environmental friendliness. It could be because you want to ensure you are doing everything you can to protect the environment, or you might want to remain in compliance with the Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) group. Either way, the best way to keep the program’s score is by tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The following are some useful KPIs to track.

How does your plant stack up? Are you tracking the right metrics to see how environmentally friendly your program is doing? Try implementing these KPIs and remember to be consistent and trend the data.

A measure of the number of machines that have engineered regrease volume calculations -

You might be asking, “does this really have any implications on how environmentally friendly my plant is?” It absolutely does. If you are over-greasing your maintenance points, you are potentially creating fluid friction inside the grease cavity. By doing this, you require your drive equipment to work 5%-10% harder. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), 23% of all electricity consumed is through electric motors - 70% in the manufacturing sector. Are your regrease volumes being properly calculated?

A measure of a lubricant’s residence time in a machine -

Simply put, this is a measure of how often lubricants are being changed in machines. This can be tracked by averaging the number of days between oil changes for all equipment. Changing lubricants more frequently will create a higher volume of total lubricants disposed of at the year’s end. There are a few ways to lengthen oil change intervals, such as using synthetic lubricants or switching to condition-based oil changes. Synthetic lubricants are built to withstand higher temperatures and other extreme conditions - they are generally able to last longer than most mineral oils. Condition-based oil changes use technologies such as oil analysis to identify when an oil needs to be changed instead of using time-based intervals.

A measure of the amount of lubricant applied versus the amount of lubricant disposed of -

If you are putting in 1000 gallons of lubricant into your machines in a year and only disposing of 750 gallons, there is a potential concern for where the missing 250 gallons will end up. Are your lubricants leaking into the process and ending up in the finished product? Are the leaking lubricants ending up on the floor or in your wastewater? Another potential reason these numbers could be off is that the technician dumping lubricants into the used oil bin is failing to document it.

A measure of the number of lubricant leaks and amount of additional lubricants used due to leaks -

Leaking lubricants pose a real threat to the environment by working their way into the process or the waste system. In addition to this, if you are continually adding lubricants to a system, you are adding to the total amount of lubricants that need to be disposed of. By addressing leaks found on-site, you are adding to the lubricant residence time. A KPI that could be coupled with this one is how many days, on average, it takes to repair leaks.

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About the Author

Travis Richardson is an associate technical consultant for Noria Corporation. He holds a Level II Machine Lubrication Technician (MLT) certification and a Level II Machine Lubricant Analyst (MLA...