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Meditation on Lubrication

Mike Gauthier


Real Improvements in Reliability Start with Commitment and an Honest Self-Assessment

Old joke. How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? One — but the light bulb has to really want to change.

In all seriousness, there’s an element of truth to this classic quip. A psychiatrist can diagnose a patient and make recommendations for treatment. But ultimately, the patient has to help himself to get better.

The same is true of lubrication related to equipment reliability. Many (perhaps most) industrial processing, manufacturing and wastewater treatment facilities could gain a gold mine of benefits through better management of lubricants for critical equipment. But only if they really want to change.

Are you ready to change your maintenance mentality? Would you rather take an organized and strategic approach to keep your critical equipment running in top form, rather than reacting to the latest catastrophic failure?

Great! However, if your operation is like many, with thousands of lubrication points spread out across multiple areas, the idea of getting started can be overwhelming.

You Don’t Have to Solve Everything at Once

Sometimes companies look at reliability programs on a scale of 1 – 10 … and then fail to put a program in-place because they could only hope to reach a 5. But not every plant needs to achieve world class to provide a bottom-line boost in reliability.

A graduated approach could work best for your organization. Identify your most critical assets and the problems associated with them; establish Key Performance Indicators and set goals. If you can document the benefits of incremental reliability improvements, this typically creates all the buy-in necessary to get to the next level.

If it helps, start with one production line, building or area. Then build momentum from there.

But first, how do you get started? Before you can set reasonable goals and a plan to achieve them, you’ve got to fully understand your current practices. That’s why an honest self-assessment is an essential first step.

Take a moment to consider your current maintenance strategy. How would you characterize it?

  1. Reactive – run-to-failure, fix it when it breaks down
  2. Preventive – prevent assets from breaking down by performing maintenance regularly
  3. Predictive – assets are periodically inspected, serviced and cleaned
  4. Proactive – engineers predict when equipment failure might happen
  5. Condition Monitoring – continuously monitor assets while in operation
  6. Multiple – a combination of different strategies

A Deeper Evaluation of Your Lubrication Program

After you’ve come to terms with your overall maintenance approach, it’s time to delve into how you approach lubrication. To simplify this assessment, Trico has developed a self-assessment form divided into discrete categories. The hardest part is being honest enough with yourself to admit your current situation.

But if you’re serious about getting more proactive with equipment lubrication, this assessment will put you on the path to success. Contact us and we can help you assess your current situation.