Don’t Waste Your Time Tracking These KPIs

Bennett Fitch, Noria Corporation

Deciding which Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to track can be a difficult task. A KPI needs to be purposeful; it needs to indicate the causality between action and reward; it needs to be able to alert us to any concerns. Effective KPIs show what changes are taking place (altered processes, implementing new technology, etc.) and how those changes are impacting key business objectives (reduced equipment failure, improved manpower efficiencies, etc.). KPIs also reveal the extent to which current legacy activities continue to provide sustained benefits, revealing if the margins are closing in. After all, if we aren’t improving, we’re falling behind.

Lubrication has a critical impact on equipment reliability and, as such, has associated reliability objectives and goals - our daily actions have everything to do with reaching these objectives and goals. To define these goals, we often apply the tenants of SMART Goals.

SMART Goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Once these goals are set, KPIs can be used to measure the progress on these goals over time - or at least they should. For KPIs to have any value at all, they must have a clear association with actions that are specific, achievable and relevant. If you don’t know what is influencing a change in a KPI, you may be wasting your time by measuring it. The following list describes a few KPIs associated with lubrication tasks and the factors that make them effective.


1. Don’t measure lubrication inspection effectiveness unless ... 

  • The correct inspection tools are used
  • Machines are modified for quality inspection
  • Machinery lubrication training has been provided
  • A method more thorough than pass/fail identification is in place for tracking abnormal conditions


2. Don’t measure lubrication route effectiveness unless ...

  • Routes have documented procedures
  • Those performing the routes are trained in best practices
  • Route tasks are organized and optimized (such as by type, frequency, required skills, type of lubricant, operating condition (ON/OFF), geographic location, etc.)
  • Task times are measured
  • Appropriate tools are identified and available
  • Efficiencies (for scheduling, sequencing, etc.) are considered


3. Don’t measure the unavailability of machines or production loss hours related to lubrication tasks unless ...

  • Root Cause Analysis and FMEA are being performed
  • Proactive and predictive maintenance are emphasized
  • The “rights of lubrication” have been established for each measured component


4. Don’t measure the compliance of plans for training and certification of your lubrication technicians unless ...

  • Lube techs are given the resources to prepare (training courses, books or other reference materials)
  • Lube techs are given time to prepare (while training usually requires at least a three-day course before certifying, it’s important they are not distracted by emails or other work obligations during this time)
  • Lube techs understand what’s in it for them (often, there may be a pay incentive for becoming certified or successfully implementing changes to improve lubrication).


5. Don’t measure total lubricant consumption unless ...

  • The volume of oil lost related to leaks is estimated
  • The volume of oil used related to oil drains and oil flushes is measured
  • Oil analysis is being used to identify condition-based oil changes
  • Grease relubrication is based on proper calculations or feedback tools to identify regrease volume and intervals


6. Don’t measure the overall lubrication program effectiveness unless ...

  • All six lubricant lifecycle stages (see Ascend Chart) are being taken into consideration
  • A lubrication champion is identified and provided with resources and support and is empowered to make changes
  • A training plan is in place to generate awareness of lubrication initiatives across the organization to minimize pushback, as many will resist change
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About the Author

Bennett Fitch is the Chief Strategy Officer at Noria Corporation and part of the services team as a senior technical consultant. He is a mechanical engineer who holds a Machine Lubricant Analyst...