Slipping and sliding toward lubrication best practices
Creating a code of practice helped one company increase equipment reliability by 44%.
By Lee Taylor, general manager of operations, Visy Pulp and Paper
Australia’s Visy Pulp and Paper (www.visy.com.au) began its journey toward lubrication excellence almost two years ago. Along the way, it has won the John R. Battle Award for Excellence in Machinery Lubrication from the International Council for Machinery Lubrication (www.lubecouncil.org) and increased rotating equipment reliability by 44%. To ensure this is a sustainable improvement, we at Visy have developed a code of practice (CoP) to define the minimum level of performance required to meet the requirements set forth is the Visy corporate policy for machinery lubrication.
Performance relative to the corporate policy and this CoP shall be evaluated by routine gap analysis. Recognizing the importance of machinery lubrication to equipment asset reliability and overall cost of ownership, management diligently commits to correct any identified gaps in performance (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Recognizing the importance of machinery lubrication to equipment asset reliability and overall cost of ownership, management diligently commits to correct any identified gaps in performance.
Lubricant selection and management
Lubricants are selected to match application requirements. A lubricant possesses a collection of physical and chemical properties that ultimately define the lubricant’s performance properties. Depending upon its electromechanical design, each machine has certain lubricant performance requirements that are a function of the forces, stresses, and strains placed on the lubricant. Visy shall, as standard practice, apply appropriate engineering analysis to match the lubricant’s performance properties to the machine’s lubricant performance requirements.
Lubricant inventories are rationalized. Lubricant companies offer a wide range of lubricants that possess a wide range of physical, chemical, and performance properties. While the brand and product names vary widely, most lubricant companies offer lubricant products that are very similar to those offered by competitors. Visy shall, as standard practice, develop generic technical specifications for each lubricant product required and rationalize to store and inventory only one example of the branded product that matches the Visy generic technical specification.
Lubricant stores are well-designed for effective, contaminant-free lubricant transfer. In the chain of custody, lubricants must be transferred from the lubricant supplier, as bulk lubricant or delivered in totes, drums, pails, or cartridges, and then effectively transferred and applied to the machine without cross-mixing or collecting environmental contamination, such as dirt and water. Visy shall, as standard practice, create systems and practices to manage the integrity of each lubricant as it passes from the lubricant supplier to plant stores and ultimately to the machine. These practices shall include mechanisms to prevent cross-mixing, mechanisms to prevent the ingress of contamination, and mechanisms to eliminate contamination ingested during transport and transfer.
Lubricants and lubricating tools are well-marked, employing an intuitive tagging system. Among the most common mistakes that compromise lubrication is cross-mixing, where the wrong lubricant is simply applied to the wrong lubrication point. Typically, this is simple human error. To combat this, Visy has developed an intuitive tagging system that incorporates a color and shaped code scheme that serves to error-proof the lubrication process. Visy shall, as standard practice, apply the Visy standard intuitive labeling system to lubricant storage containers, machine sumps, reservoirs, and lubrication points, lubrication transfer, and other tools, such as filter carts and guns, and any other location where cross-mixing of lubricants is a risk.
Appropriate lubricant transfer and application tools are employed. As with any task, there is a right way and a wrong way to apply lubricants to machines. Common examples of poor practice include open, unmarked, and contaminated buckets and pails, as well as dirty, unmarked funnels. Common examples of good practice include properly marked filter carts pumping the appropriate oil into the sump or tank through a quick-connect fitting and grease guns that are intuitively marked and contain cartridges of the right grease. Visy shall, as standard practice, apply best practices in lubricant delivery and application to ensure that the right lubricant is delivered to the right location free of contamination.
Oil/grease/filter stock min/max levels are known and stock is maintained between min/max levels. Lubricants are a perishable consumable in the plant. Too much lubricant on hand is expensive in terms of inventory cost and runs the risk of shelf degradation. Conversely, too little lubricant on hand runs the risk of a stock-out, which forces expedited procurement and increases the risk that a suboptimal product will be added to the machine as a stop-gap solutions. Visy shall, as standard practice, establish min/max inventory levels through usage analysis for all lubricant and filter products required to service the plant. These levels shall be periodically evaluated for accuracy.