Lubrication Audit, Develop and Implement

Lubrication Audit, Develop, and Implement

Paul Dufresne, Trico

Completing an Audit and Implementing Changes to Boost Lubrication Program Performance

In 2009, Trico Services was contracted to complete an equipment lubrication audit of a large mill in the southeast that produces liner and corrugated material for containers. This lubrication audit was for roughly 2500 pieces of rotating equipment. Upon completion of the lubrication audit, Trico was to take the lubrication recommendations and input this data into the MAINTelligence software platform that the facility uses using to manage their plant lubrication programs.

Outline Scope of Service

The Scope of Service for this project was be broken into four phases. Phase I of this project would begin in the Pulp Mill area of this facility. The Pulp Mill area is comprised of the following sub-areas: Caustic Area, Tall Oil, Digesters and Pulp Mill general. Phase II was the Power House. Phase III was Paper Manufacturing consisting of three paper machines and Phase IV was the Chip Yard. Under our arrangement the following services were provided:

• Verify lubrication requirements for all equipment in their specific area.
• Verify that correct lubricants are being used for each point identified.
• Establish the correct frequency for re-lubrication.
• Create an electronic database that would be used to house the lubrication audit and will facilitate the development of a “living” lubrication database.
• Tag equipment with a bar code used for accessing hand held lubrication routes manage by the MAINTelligence software.

Upon completion of the lubrication audit in each area, the data was transferred into the MAINTelligence software. Under our agreement the following services were provided:

1. Create appropriate reading type (inspections) for equipment that would be inspected.

2. Build lubrication points into the MAINTelligence database; create detailed outage and non-outage lubrication routes for the designated areas.

3. Mentor the local system administrator on the following:

  • Setting up the inspection routes (see Figure 1).
  • Creating inspection specifications in the database.
  • Scheduling the inspections for a specific time period.
  • Scheduling and conducting any remedial action needed to eliminate the exceptions.
  • General operation of the MAINTelligence software.

4. Mentor the area lubrication technicians in lubrication best practices along with MAINTelligence operations.

inspection cycle workflow
Figure 1 – Inspection Cycle Workflow

Lubrication Audit Overview

Purpose – The equipment audit was performed to obtain knowledge of the equipment, its internal design, the system design, and the current operating and environmental conditions. Failure to gain full understanding of the equipment operating needs and conditions undermines the technology. This information was used as a reference to set equipment targets and limits while supplying direction for future maintenance activities. The information was placed in an automated lube list that is accessible to all plant personnel via the local intranet. There were approximately 2,500 lubrication assets audited during this process. Below is a list of other criteria that were evaluated per asset.

Equipment Mission Criticality – Safety, environmental concerns, historical problems, reliability, downtime costs and repairs must all be considered when determining the equipment included in the program, the frequency and
the selections of all health monitoring tests.

Equipment Component and System Identification – Collecting, categorizing and evaluating all design and operating manuals including schematics are required to understand the complexity of modern equipment. OEM’s assistance in identifying the original bearings, wear surfaces and component metallurgy will take the guesswork out of setting targets and limits and also aid in future troubleshooting. Equipment nameplate data with accurate model and serial numbers allow for easy identification by the manufacturer to aid in obtaining this information.

Operating Parameters – Equipment designers and operating manuals reflect the minimum requirements for operating the equipment. These include operating temperature, required lubricant needs, pressures, duty cycles and filtration to name a few. Operating outside the recommended values could require modifications and/or additions to the system to allow the component to run within an acceptable range.

Operating Equipment Evaluation – A visual inspection of the equipment is required to examine and record the components used in the system including filtration, breathers, coolers, heaters, etc. This inspection should also record all operating temperatures and pressures, duty cycle times, rotational direction and speeds, filter indicators, etc. Temperature reading of the major components is required to reflect the component operating system temperature. This information verifies that OEM supplied equipment is still in operation and reflects the present operating characteristics of the equipment.

Operating Environment – Hostile environments or environmental contamination in most cases is not taken into consideration when OEMs establish operating parameters. These conditions can influence lubricant degradation, eventually resulting in damaged equipment. All environmental conditions such as mean temperature, humidity and all possible contaminants must be recorded.

Installing Tags and Barcoding Assets

The decision was made to scan barcodes at each inspection point. Scanning the barcode automatically records the identification of the maintenance technician, and the time and date stamp of when the inspection is completed. This is helpful for regulatory compliance. When a maintenance technician walks up and scans the barcode, the corresponding inspection is brought up on the data collector. We were furnished with an equipment
list that we scrubbed for accuracy during our lubrication audit. Once the list was verified, the data was provided to our production personnel in Pewaukee, Wisconsin where the labels were printed and the tags put together (see Figure 2).

example of a tag with bar code
Figure 2 – Example of Tag with Bar Code

How Lubrication Audit Augmented Hand Held Technology (MAINTelligence)

At the time, the plant was using paper based lubrication inspections. These inspections were usually completed on schedule. However, using the information from these inspections as a tool for work identification and triggering corrective work orders was fairly difficult. The paper forms were hard to sort through. Often, the needed form would be stacked deep on the inspection clipboard, so finding the noted exceptions either took a considerable amount of time or just couldn’t be done. By completing the lubrication audit on the rotating equipment assets in the plant, the initial verification and leg work had been completed for a successful implementation. There is no question that lubrication inspection procedures can be carried out using paper check-sheets. However, it was felt that implementing the lubrication rounds using an automated approach would resolve the problem of incomplete work identification.

The benefits of automated lubrication inspection rounds are:

• Implementing automated lubrication programs are easier and more efficient.
• Increases the accuracy and consistency of collected data.
• Immediate feedback is available to the operators when assessing the asset.
• Exceptions are indicated immediately to maintenance and reliability staff.

The primary goal of collecting the data electronically is to capture this data into a searchable database automatically, without having the need for data entry from the paper inspection forms. This allows the information collected from inspections to be sorted and flagged as exceptions, and used to immediately generate corrective work orders.

Implementation Costs

Many first time purchasers of software encounter severe sticker shock regarding the cost of implementing maintenance software systems. The reality is that the cost of implementation will typically range from 1:1 to 2:1 compared to the cost of the software. In this case the cost of implementing the software was far less since the software was already loaded on the network CITRIX server. Trico was able to take the data from the equipment lubrication audit, immediately input that data into the MAINTelligence software and then create the lubrication routes for the plant.

Implementation for this project came in on budget as planned, and at the customer’s request, an additional week of work was added to the end of the project. This work was scheduled as a four phase project completed in about 70 days.

Maintenance Cost Reductions

Maintenance costs are the second highest component of operating expenses (after utilities), and nearly every industry is working to control these expenses for at least a couple of reasons. First, the rising costs of electricity,gas, and even water and sewer charges are pulling funding away from maintenance activities. Second, economic times are difficult right now, and most companies have been requested to make budget reductions.Everyone understands that you have to keep paying the electric bill, but there is a perception that you can cut the maintenance costs…at least for a while.

Many companies are doing the same types of maintenance with lower funding levels. With lower maintenance funding, the facility conditions deteriorate and the productivity of the workforce suffers. Also, poorly maintained equipment will use more energy and overall expenses will rise even faster. This can be a difficult cost spiral from which it is very difficult to recover.

A better strategy in these difficult budget times is to increase the productivity of your maintenance workforce. Nearly every organization with which we have worked either supplements its staff with contracted resources or utilizes overtime by its regular staff to complete their maintenance activities. By getting more work done with your own staff, you will be able to reduce the need for contractors, reduce the need for overtime, or both.

How can one increase the productivity of a maintenance workforce with a very short return-on-investment? Consider implementing handheld devices for the maintenance workforce.It is one of the maintenance “Best Practices” identified by many industry experts. Fortunately, the company’s management recognizes this and is implementing this across their entire organization. They realize that the devices can increase efficiency and productivity of their staff. By doing this they can reduce their costs and operate more efficiently.

Currently the facility is in the infancy stage of operating their handheld units and metrics are in place to track work efficiency and other related maintenance metrics directly relating to the use of handhelds. The following is a simplified list of potential key indicators that could be used as the lubrication program matures:

Reduce Lubricant Costs – In a lubrication optimization program, the goal is to minimize the purchase of new lubricants through the consolidation of products, the elimination of time-based oil changes, and minimizing of waste and leakage. When properly done, all of these measures should have a measurable effect on the dollars being spent annually on lubricants.

Improve Compliance to Scheduled Lubrication PM Tasks – All lubrication tasks, from the daily level checks, sampling for oil analysis, regreasing, top-ups, and scheduled oil changes, need to be scheduled activities. Measuring the percent conformance of PM’s that were scheduled and completed to that of PM tasks that were not completed within the required parameters (time, date, frequency, etc) allows for a quick, accurate view of PM compliance.

Adjust or Redefine Analysis Alert or Alarm Limits –Initial temperature, pressure and oil analysis alarms must be reviewed to ensure that the original target values are correct and that they appropriately reflect the equipment specific operating condition of the equipment components. This is often accomplished by incorporating feedback from the maintenance activities and using lessons learned resulting from root cause analyses of failed components.

Improve Equipment Reliability – Performance indicators that relate to the equipment reliability and availability remain significant to the effectiveness of the lubrication program. The goal is to minimize or reduce the number of lubrication-related equipment failures or significant events but this remains difficult to determine if the actual root cause of an anomaly is not correctly identified.

Improve Oil Cleanliness Levels – It has been well documented that by improving the cleanliness levels of a lubricant, it will have a direct effect on the life of the component. Improvement in handling, storage, dispensing and filtration methods will assist in reducing the acceptable cleanliness levels, which results in improved equipment reliability with the associated reduction in maintenance costs.

Tracking and Trending Lubricant Disposal Costs – Understanding the total consumption, leaks, top-ups, and oil changes, will allow a company’s efforts and behaviors to be better focused toward the effective implementation of the lubrication program.

Other Key Performance Indicators to Consider

Breakdown, Availability interruptions, Failures

• O.E.E. (Overall Equipment Effectiveness)
• TTPM: Time To Preventive Maintainance, as a % of total time

Preventive, Corrective, Scheduled Maintenance

• % of work scheduled
• % of work type backlog

Maintenance Costs

• Maintenance cost as % of asset value
• Ratio of unplanned to total maintenance cost


• Number of jobs planned but not yet performed
• Number of jobs not started at planned time/date


• MTBF: Mean-Time-Between-Failures
• MTTR: Mean-Time-To-Repair
• Production losses due to unplanned downtime
• Production losses due to planned/preventive maintenance

Regardless of the indicators that are used, the purpose should be to help quantify the maintenance effectiveness and impact on the company’s bottom line through equipment and facility availability, defined in terms that are meaningful to their organization.

Next Steps

Operator Basic Care Program – Currently there is a vision within the organization to establish a comprehensive program to ensure that operators, as the owners of equipment, understand equipment condition at all times by cleaning, lubricating, adjusting, inspecting, and making simple repairs to maximize uptime and reduce unplanned events to zero. The company wants to use the MAINTelligence platform to house all of these inspections
for their operators. We have been asked to provide a proposal that would outline all the scope of work and associated cost in developing the Operator Basic Care program at the facility.

Lubrication Program follow-up – As the lubrication program (MAINTelligence) matures at the facility we are currently focusing our direction on other opportunities within their lubrication program. We are currently working on installing turnkey lubrication storage & handling unit in the Pulp Mill and have a plan to install lubrication storage & handling units in the other areas of the mill. We have also focused our efforts in addressing lubrication
best practices when it comes to installing and using desiccant breathers. We have also identified and addressed the need for proper lubricant filtration, proper sampling ports for an effective oil analysis program along with establishing the proper cleanliness codes and test slates that should be performed per family type of equipment.

Our plan is to review the current lubrication routes after a 12-month cycle to ensure we have the correct frequency based on the operating and environmental conditions within the facility and adjust as needed. Our goal is to help the facility follow all of the best practices when it comes to lubrication excellence.

Paul Dufresne

Paul Dufresne is an industry leading expert in the area of plant lubrication and equipment reliability. Paul is a Distinguished Military Graduate from the University of Central Florida and holds a Certified Lubrication Specialist (CLS) rating from the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers; Certified Maintenance Reliability Professional (CMRP) rating from the Society of Maintenance and Reliability Professionals. The article was written by Paul while he was employed with Trico. Paul is now the Operations Excellence Specialist with Georgia Pacific. Paul can be reached at [email protected]

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