Published in the September/October 2021 edition of Caltrux, a publication of the California Trucking Association (CTA).
Downs Energy is a CTA Premier Level Circle Club Partner.
Lubricants are the lifeblood of your equipment. That’s why implementing a lubricants management program is a smart solution for your business. An effective lubricants management program can improve efficiency, protect equipment value, maintain your equipment’s peak performance, reduce labor, and increase profitability. In this article, we will outline the key components of an effective lubricants management program that you can benchmark against your current practices and procedures.
On-Site Lube Survey
The first step of a lubricants management program is conducting an on-site lubrication survey. A lubrication survey is an overall assessment of your equipment. During this process, a lubricants specialist works alongside a certified team of engineers to evaluate your equipment manufacturer’s requirements and ensure that the proper lubricants are being utilized. They also ensure that the proper processes are in place so that your operation is running at optimal performance. From the storage and handling of the oil, to the maintenance schedule, simple mistakes could be occurring.
To maximize your equipment’s life and efficiency, you must first uncover any existing deficiencies. You can detect issues before they become detrimental and avoid unplanned downtime by implementing an oil analysis initiative.
Oil analysis is a predictive maintenance tool that analyzes the health of your lubricants, machine wear, and contamination. It helps to identify potential issues before they materialize into serious problems that can potentially damage your equipment. Oil analysis can also be used to optimize your oil drain intervals resulting in less time servicing your equipment and more time maximizing productivity. A true oil analysis program will include tools to get you started, walk you through each step, analyze and explain your results, and provide a detailed action plan to get you on the path toward maximum protection. Once you have implemented an oil analysis initiative it is essential to also establish a schedule of consistent oil sampling and monitoring of the results.
Storage and Monitoring Solutions
Investing in the right storage and monitoring system is essential. A comprehensive solution may include oil tanks, pump and reel kits, and a fluid management system. Your lubricants marketer should be able to provide you a customized tank solution through a rental, loan, or purchase program. Having appropriate tanks and tank monitors in place can help consolidate your inventory, reduce product outages, and reduce the possibility of product contamination.
Inventory runouts are a constant and valid concern when it comes to your lubricants. Wireless tank monitors are a proven solution to help avoid these runouts and decrease your downtime. An effective wireless tank monitor accurately measures and records your oil levels and can even assist in usage forecasting. Dispatchers carefully monitor your tank activity and can schedule deliveries based on your usage data. For most of the monitoring solutions available today, you can access the tank readings and data on your desktop computer or smart phone. Installing wireless tank monitors will boost your productivity, ensure that product is available when you need it, and improve safety.
Cost Savings Strategies
Cutting costs is necessary to stay competitive in this challenging economic environment. Understanding this need is one thing, addressing the need is another. The following are a few strategies that can help reduce your overall cost.
Total Cost of Ownership Analysis
Some organizations think that downgrading their lubricants is a valid, cost-effective solution, however, sacrificing the quality of your oil has the potential to actually increase your overall cost. A downgrade in lubricants can easily result in reduced engine life and an increase in labor. Instead, speak to your lubricants marketer about a total cost of ownership analysis. A properly conducted analysis will enable you to identify expenses that often get overlooked along with ways to reduce these expenses.
Extended Oil Drain Intervals
Many organizations don’t realize that the OEM recommendation for their oil drain intervals may be much longer than what they’re currently operating under. If done properly, alongside oil analysis, optimizing your oil drain intervals can significantly reduce costs and increase productivity.
Consider using higher quality synthetic lubricants to not only protect your investments, but to decrease costs. How can a higher quality oil cost less? Because it’s not about the cost of the product, it’s about the overall cost of doing business. Your lubricants marketer should be able to offer you a wide variety of synthetic blend and full synthetic lubricants that will offer you consistency, stability, and the protection that your equipment needs.
Fuel Efficient Lubricants
For fleet owners, fuel is easily one of their top three expenses, so even a slight improvement in fuel efficiency can have a big impact on fuel expenses. Lower viscosity CK-4 and FA-4 lubricants can increase your fuel savings without sacrificing engine protection.
A key ingredient to any successful lubricants management program is training. With the necessary knowledge, you can get the most out of your equipment. Speak to your lubricants marketer about the training that they offer. Some marketers will partner with their supplier who has access to lubrication industry experts or lubrication engineers, that will conduct on-site training sessions for you and your team.
Proper training will cover lubrication fundamentals, different types of oils and fluids, and lubrication best practices. During training, your marketer can help you develop a fully optimized lubrication plan and arm your team with the knowledge and skills to make informed decisions about your day-to-day operations. Don’t limit the training to just lube technicians; include equipment operators, maintenance managers, and anyone else in your organization who may benefit and help contribute to a successful program.
Without a proper lubricants management program in place, you risk interruption to your overall productivity. When your equipment fails, you incur the cost of replacement parts, unplanned downtime, and overall increased maintenance costs. As we’ve discussed, ensuring that proper lubricants are being utilized and when that occurs, can help your team maintain and protect your equipment in the most efficient way possible, saving you time and money.