The ongoing journey toward lubrication perfection

Documenting the implementation of a world-class lubrication process at a brewery.

By Richard David, Condition-Based Monitoring Technician

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This is the second of a bi-monthly series about one plant’s continuing journey to implement a world-class lubrication process.

Beer Guy here again with an update on how the implementation of our new lubrication management process is going. It’s been eight weeks since I rolled out our new bulk system, and I can confidently say the finish line is in sight. For those of you who missed Part I of this series or for those who need a refresher, I’m the lubrication technician for a beer manufacturing facility in the midst of implementing a world-class lubrication process. I’m documenting the entire process to share my experiences and findings as we strive to become the benchmark for other manufacturing facilities.

Updates

Figure 1. Building the new lube room to reflect and support all the colored tags and containers created a clean and organized the lube room with the bulk system holding tanks at the heart of it.
Figure 1. Building the new lube room to reflect and support all the colored tags and containers created a clean and organized the lube room with the bulk system holding tanks at the heart of it.

We’ve made incredible progress over the past two months, though we still have much of the journey to go. Building our new lube room to reflect and support all the colored tags and containers has kept us very busy. I am proud of the outcome so far, especially how clean and organized the lube room looks (Figure 1).

When I first scoped the project, I thought, once the OilSafe bulk system holding tanks were in position, I’d just need to implement the support items and everything would magically fall into place. Well, I underestimated how much the bulk oil handling system would transform the overall look of the room. The new bulk system was so nice, it didn’t make sense not to update the entire lube room to match the quality of the system.

So, it was on to updating the room. Initially, I thought I could get the entire lube room up to the level of the bulk system in a few days. However, after only setting and leveling the tanks and secondary storage lockers, as well as looking at all the support that was necessary, I had two days in already (Figure 2). Unfortunately, my free time is limited for extra projects like this since I am responsible for more than just lubrication in my facility and still have to keep up with my vibration rounds/analysis, oil analysis, and ultrasound support. However, I persevered in updating the lube room and have made great progress.

Figure 2. Storage cabinets keep our lube management equipment clean, organized and easily accessible.
Figure 2. Storage cabinets keep our lube management equipment clean, organized and easily accessible.

I’m nearing the finish line on updating the lube room, or my “baby,” as I now refer to it. All of the lube room equipment is now labeled. One of my final tasks is to hang a broom rack; after all the work I completed, the last thing I want is any excuse to leave the lube room messy. Now I face the decision of who should be responsible to maintain this room, as I don’t have the time to make sure it stays clean and well stocked, nor do I actually own the room.

As a solution, I decided to create some preventive maintenance (PM) in our maintenance management system. The system delivers a PM to each of the two primary shareholder departments to ensure the lube room is properly maintained. Since there are two departments, the PM alternates every other month between them so they can share the duties of maintaining the space. I also wrote a personal PM for me to audit the area every 13 weeks to ensure things don’t get out of hand and the room stays as perfect as it is now. My hope is that this ownership and oversight will create awareness toward the end goal — sustainable and clean environment for our lubricants.

Preliminary results

As we all know, change can be difficult to accept and challenging to effect. But the many benefits we’re already seeing from the lubrication management system are proof that this change, and the simplification it provides, is absolutely worth it.

Figure 3. Transfer containers and labels make storage and transferring of lubricants simple and intuitive.
Figure 3. Transfer containers and labels make storage and transferring of lubricants simple and intuitive.

So far, we’ve seen fewer facility breakdowns since we implemented the new lube management system. The containers and labels make everything clear, so operators are recognizing potential issues faster and at a higher rate. Operators are now looking at their equipment, identifying issues and submitting work orders just because the oil doesn’t look like it should. Over the past three-and-a-half years, I’ve seen two or three work orders. We’ve had as many as 15 work orders submitted in the past few months since implementing the lube management system.

The lube management system is showing the greatest benefit with its custom colors, shapes and labels. Before, it was a guessing game. Now, each oil is in a different container with a unique color characteristic (Figure 3). The equipment is tagged, the container is tagged, and the source is tagged. The lubrication process is essentially fail-proof.

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