Through this gamut there are missed opportunities to increase equipment productivity and reliability and to maximize the returns of investing in a professionally designed lubrication program. One of the biggest and most costly missed opportunities is proper lubricant storage and handling.
Many facilities are unaware of the danger improper lubricant storage and handling practices create and what inevitable fate it can lead to in terms of equipment reliability and lifecycles. Proper lubrication is not only about the right amount-at the right time-at the right place, it is also about keeping lubricants clean, cool and properly identified.
Here are some tips to help outline the best practices for proper lubrication storage and handling:
1. Lube Room Design and Requirements
A properly designed lube room must be functional, safe and expandable, and provide all necessary storage and handling requirements for the facility. Lube room designs should allow the maximum storage capacity without allowing for too much bulk oil and grease storage. Limiting the amount of bulk oil and grease storage will allow the oils that are stored to be used in a timely manner. Some key features to consider are a limited access door, which will allow for logging of who and when a lube technician enters and leaves the room; visible landing area for new lubricants; log all new lubricant deliveries; make filtration of stored lubricants easy; provide proper safety devices; designate enough floor space for fire proof storage cabinets to store top-up containers, grease guns, etc.; and include a desk and computer to track inventory, sampling, filtration, receiving, etc.
It also is a smart idea to have a separate storage area to store bulk totes, drums, buckets, etc.
2. Bulk Oil Storage
The first area of a lubricant storage and handling system that requires attention is bulk storage. Whether storing lubricants in a 10,000-gallon tank or 55-gallon drums, it is very important to ensure the lubricants’ quality is not tainted by contamination or additive settling. To help ensure lubricants stay in an optimal condition, one must determine how much lubricant should be stored at one time.
To aid in this process, certain steps can be employed, such as:
- Determine lubricant consumption rate. Consumption will vary greatly depending on industry and equipment type. To ensure the right quantities of lubricants are being stored at a facility, the consumption rate must be determined. There are many factors that contribute to consumption, ranging from leaks to excessive drain and fills.
- Determine lubricant storage capacity. The required lubricant storage capacity depends on consumption, but often there are too little or too many lubricants stored at one time. The proper storage capacity should maximize shelf life but allow for a certain percent excess of critical lubricants to be stored for emergency situations.
- Determine lubricant supplier turnaround time. A lubricant supplier’s turnaround time should be a metric used to aid in determining the quantity of lubricants stored. If there is a short time interval between deliveries, fewer lubricants can be stored onsite, but if there is a lengthy time interval between deliveries, the quantity of lubricants stored onsite should account for this.
For smaller facilities that have a small consumption rate, the use of drum storage may be the best option
(by Stephen Sumerlin)
To be continue...