Maintenance Technology June 2017 - 25
Take the Plunge:
Optimize the number of
lubricants your site stocks by
HOW MANY DIFFERENT lubricants does your site use? Is
it 10, 20, 30, or more than 100? While the actual number of
required products varies significantly for different types of plants,
more than 30 is probably too many.
According to Jarrod Potteiger of Des-Case, (descase.com,
Goodlettesville, TN), using too many lubricants typically results
from following OEM specifications to the letter. The manager
of Educational Services for Des-Case, Potteiger noted that
some OEMs specify just one or maybe only a few lubricants for
an application, which leads cautious plant personnel to seek
additional products. Over time, this practice can result in an
inventory with dozens of products that are used in only one
application. Stocking superfluous products, in turn, results in
excessive shelf time, high costs, and an increased likelihood of
cross-contamination. These are just a few reasons to take a close
look at the various lubricants in your storerooms and identify
opportunities for consolidation.
Why might an operation have more lube products in inventory than it needs? Potteiger points to a lack of formulation
knowledge. "Many in the maintenance world," he explained,
"don't understand which characteristics of a lubricant make it
appropriate for a certain application."
For the most part, all major lubricant manufacturers make
the same types of products. This doesn't mean they are all the
same, or offer the same level of performance, but they all make
an appropriate product for the vast majority of your industrial
equipment. Potteiger offered the following details of a typical
The primary components of an industrial lubricating oil are the
base stock (base oil) and the additive system (package).
The base stock has two specifications: type of oil and viscosity
grade. Although there are several different types of base stocks,
most applications use mineral oil.
Mineral oil comes in three different API (American Petroleum
Institute) base-oil groups, while most synthetics come in only
one. When specifying lubricants (or interpreting lube specifications), it's important to identify the API base-oil group or a
particular type of synthetic.
The viscosity grade should also be specified using the ISO
viscosity grading system. This system is now the standard
convention for industrial lubricating oils. If an OEM uses a
different system, that specification can be easily converted to
an ISO grade using a conversion chart or by contacting your
lubricant supplier. Using these three attributes-base oil type,
viscosity grade, and additive system-we can translate most oil
specifications to a generic format that helps avoid redundancies
and additions of new lubricants to the inventory.
There are basically four types of additive packages, leading to
products that mostly fall into four main categories:
■ R&O (rust- and oxidation-inhibited) oils that are commonly
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