Why You Need a Quality Filtration Program

How many different lubricants are used throughout your plant? What does your OEM manual recommend for each piece of machinery within your plant? Which bottle of lube oil is oldest? What is the date of the last oil top-off for each piece of equipment? What about the last oil analysis?

If you cannot easily pull up all of this information, then it’s time to consider a Quality Filtration Program (QFP). Not only does a QFP make it easy to answer all the questions above in a matter of minutes, but they provide the following long-term benefits:

  • Extending equipment life by helping ensure every piece of equipment has the right lubricant that’s in acceptable condition, and that the lubricant is being applied correctly, at OEM recommended intervals, and in OEM recommended amounts.
  • Reducing overall lubricant costs by efficiently managing lube oil purchases (knowing when you need to purchase and how much) and preventing unused oil from accumulating and sitting until past expiration.
  • Helping you identify where changing specific systems and machinery to a different lubricant can help you save costs and simplify plant operations. Often you can consolidate the types of lubricating system required by the plant by reviewing OEM manuals and identifying machinery on rare lubricants that can be converted to a shared lubricant, simplifying your lubricant purchases and often saving time and money moving forward.
  • Helping plant maintenance personnel upkeep machinery more efficiently but organizing all pertinent information in one master document and scheduling preventative maintenance tasks at appropriate intervals.
  • Improving plant safety by ensuring all lubricant handling safety practices are documented and in place.
  • Identify costly machinery and mishandled maintenance faster through fully documentation of all lubrication related tasks and costs over time. if expected costs are being exceeded by certain pieces of equipment, or under/over maintenance is occurring, you will now be able to see that because you will have a planned baseline to compare to.
  • Maximizing lubricant analysis reports by establishing lubricant program goals and key performance indicators. These performance metrics will help see progress overtime and keep everyone focused on improving overall lubricant and machinery health as you move forward.

Best Practices for Implementing an Effective Quality Filtration Program

A good quality filtration program has four basic steps. You might already have some type of filtration program or be doing some of the items mentioned below. Or you could be starting from scratch. Either way, we have outlined best practices that you can follow to create a program or check your current program against.

Step 1: QFP Development

To develop a robust program, you will need to create all of the following:

  • A full equipment list of all machinery to be included in the lubricant program listing (at minimum) equipment identification names, numbers and process descriptions. This list should go beyond pumps, motors and compressors, and include any and all equipment requiring lubricant in the facility.
  • Plant lubrication survey which is a detailed lubrication inspection of all plant equipment. You will want to review each machines OEM manual, current state of operation, current maintenance practices, and all related characteristics. This should take several weeks to complete.
  • Lubricant selection & consolidation goes hand-in-hand with the survey. During the survey you will want to note all the lubricants currently in use. Then, you will make a consolidated list of lubricants and review that list for opportunities to reduce the total number of lubricants that will be used in the program. If only a few pieces of equipment use a certain brand or grade, see if safely change out that lubricant for another more common lubricant. The lower the number of lubricants used, the less overall work moving forward, from documentation to purchasing.
  • Plant lubrication manual – you should consolidate all the lubricant information you’ve collected so far into an electronic plant lubricant manual. This manual will be your master document for all lubricant related information, and will updated with any changes moving forward. At minimum it should include; equipment numbers and descriptions, equipment pictures, lubricant sections from OEM manuals, and selected lubricants technical data sheets and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).
  • Purchase necessary lubrication equipment for storing and applying lubricants safely. Equipment may include storage racks, plastic heavy duty storage containers, grease guns, filter carts, and bulk storage containers.
  • Set lubrication Preventive Maintenance (PM) frequency to generate a service schedule. Remember to include the following services; lubrication inspection and top off, visual inspections of equipment, equipment temperature readings, and oil sampling schedule.

Step 2: QFP Rollout & Implementation

After you have gathered all the necessary information, you will need to enter information in the plant’s Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) or Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) system. Next, set the Preventive Maintenance (PM) and task frequencies and create the clear and concise lube routes.

During implementation, you will need to ensure safety procedures are in place for the lubrication program. Make sure safety practices are both documented and have been reviewed recently with all plant personnel. You should also check that following are in place:

  • MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) are available and are reviewed.
  • Lock out procedures are followed
  • Leaks are under control
  • Spill response in place
  • Handling practices maintain a safe environment
  • Lubrication Equipment use is understood
  • Sampling procedures are followed

Finally, you will need to make sure anyone working with lubricants is properly trained and can follow the new procedures and schedules. Make sure every step in the process is well documented, accessible by all employees who need it, and gives clear instructions, safety guidelines, purposes and desired outcomes.

Step 3: On-going Program Management

Once everything is flowing in the right direction and the program has been successfully rolled out, you must continue to actively manage the Quality Filtration Program for success. Make sure you have a plan for who is accountable for the programs success moving forward. That person should be ensuring all scheduled tasks actually happen and are properly documented for a reliable work history in your CMMS or EAM. This work history will become the primary source of information for finding problems and improving lubricant management moving forward.

Step 4: Goal Reviews & Program Improvements

Periodic review of your QFP program is required to find success. These reviews should address the following through thorough examination of your work history compared to expected maintenance. Consider:

  • What lubrication issues exist currently?
  • Is the Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) you have acceptable? Is above or below your plant goal?
  • Are the costs for maintaining your equipment acceptable?
  • Do all your lubricants meet your desired ISO cleanliness specifications?
  • Are there frequent and expensive machine repairs or system maintenance that could be prevented or improved with cleaner lubricant?
  • Do you have certain pieces of equipment that you need to try to extend the life of?
  • Is a Pareto analysis required to prioritize issues? What about a Root Cause Failure Analysis (RCFA)? Or a Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) Methodologies review?
  • Have you established goals and metrics to measure your program’s progress with? Are you meeting those goals and metrics? If not, what needs to be changed?
  • What is your current vision for the program? What is the programs current state compared to this vision? What improvements still need to be made?

After you consider these questions, list all the changes you need to make and prioritize them by impact and urgency. Implement your changes, and make sure to update all related documentation, especially maintenance schedules and manuals. Set the date for your next review and continue to monitor progress.

Don’t Climb the Mountain Alone

Finally, don’t feel that you have to take everything on yourself. RIG is happy to help you design, implement and find success with a Quality Filtration Program. We help plants improve lubricant quality every day and we are here to help. Please reach out with any questions, concerns or requests: 1-800-770-4510.

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