A common misconception I often hear is that new oil is clean oil. Some even as go as far as changing perfectly good oil because it was “contaminated”. The truth is that new oil, out of the drum, is not necessarily clean oil. Just by adding new oil to a system you could be introducing new sources of contamination that cause equipment failure and fluid degradation. Lubricants should be properly handled and stored from the drum or tote to the machinery. Any mishandling along the way will most likely result in adding contamination to your system.
I hear often times that the wrong lubricant was used. The result is loss production, cross contamination, loss product or equipment failure. These mistakes are often traced back to disorganized handling of fluids and lubricants.
By organizing your lube room with proper oil storage, you are not only increasing your equipment reliability, but you are communicating to your employees that proper lubrication techniques and housekeeping is a priority. Nobody has ever told me that they regretted adding proper storage and handling techniques to their procedures. Simple changes in your handling procedures increases workplace safety, housekeeping, reduces equipment failure and increases employee morale.
So, how is this accomplished?
First off, you should add oil storage and dispensing systems. These tank systems should include a pump, filtration and a desiccant breather at the very least. The filter should be used while filling the tank. I like to valve the system so that the pump and filter can recalculate the tank as an offline filter. This is particularly helpful in situations where the oil has higher than normal levels of moisture is present as a water absorptive filter element can be used. The desiccant breather is used to dry air as the tank breathes.
Next, you need to move the product from the storage system to the machinery. And…no… a used coffee can is not an acceptable method of accomplishing this task; even if you used a “clean” rag to wipe it out. There are several acceptable options depending on the amount of oil needed. These include filter carts, mobile totes or sealed and clean containers (usually plastic).
It is very important that everything is properly labeled. I have found that color coding is very effective. Improper labeling will result in cross contamination. For instance, if you have a filter cart dedicated to a specific lubricant, paint it the same color as the storage tank so that it is not used for anything but. All storage tanks, filter carts and top off containers should be labeled in the same manner.
Finally, get buy in from your team and get everyone involved with the implantation and practice of the procedures used. Leave the door open for continuous improvement.