5 Important Safety Areas to ConsiderJanuary 12, 2024
The Importance of Proper Lubrication Fluid Storage
Too often, we view lubrication fluid storage and handling as “out of sight, out of mind” and let the lubrication maintenance team address the details. It would take more pages to thoroughly detail everything associated with proper fluid management, but for now, let’s look at some basics.
Facilities commonly receive bulk lubrication oils in what we deem as clean and proper storage devices, such as jugs, drums and totes. The long-accepted practice has been to store these items in some type of storage room or shed, and pump out what is needed—when it is needed—into a transfer container.
Lubrication Fluid Storage & Management Considerations
In today’s world of reduced maintenance staff and higher employee turnover rates, coupled with increased safety risks, we should consider the following when analyzing plant site lubrication storage and management:
- What does one slip and fall from a dirty, oily floor really cost, not to mention the employee’s harrowing experience?
- How do new employees understand and remember the lubrication fluids required for each piece of equipment?
- Do your lubrication fluids meet any ISO cleanliness codes you might have in place directly out of the storage device?
- What is the effect on employee morale and retention with a dirty, disorganized and chaotic fluid storage room?
- What does one cross-contaminated premature pump, gearbox or other major component failure cost?
Working to Minimize Company Risk
It is important for management to understand what can be done to minimize company risk. All of the above can be greatly improved or diminished if one considers investing in lubrication fluids management storage and dispensing systems for the plant site.
What does this investment look like? Here are some proven methods to improve your lubrication fluids storage and management systems:
- Consider a stacking system for bulk storage to replace all the typical unorganized drum storage and the confusion that can come with it. This will also reduce oil spills on the floor and create a safer, highly organized and cohesive environment.
- Develop a color-coded storage and dispensing system for each type of fluid, matching each machine to the lubrication type (Figure 1). This will allow any person to visually understand what fluid is required in each piece of equipment.
- Minimize storage and the transfer containers’ exposure to external contamination.
- Use pump and filtration systems to move fluids from bulk storage to dispensing containers.
- For large fluid transfers to equipment, consider a cart system to minimize contamination risks and reduce physical fatigue in lubrication staff. This can include removing spent fluids while installing the new fluid.
This type of investment does not have to happen overnight; it can be accomplished in stages—often making capital expenditure approvals easier. The most important thing to understand is the cost versus benefits. From there, develop a plan or strategy that will result in a more efficient, safe and user-friendly lubrication fluids management system.
This article previously appeared in Chemical Processing's Nov. 2022 publication.