A lube room is just what it sounds like: a room or area in a facility where lubricant is stored. But in order for your plant’s lube room to help you achieve your reliability goals, you need to know more than that.
First, there’s the room itself. It should be in an area that is as free as possible from particles and dirt, and where it is easy to maintain a constant temperature. For convenience, it should also be near the receiving area where new oil is delivered. Consider what will happen in the event of a spill, and consider installing a nonslip floor.
Another consideration is who will be able to enter the room. Imagine a situation in which an employee with lubrication training asks an untrained worker to get fetch machine oil for them to save time. The untrained worker could make a mistake like putting items away in the wrong place, selecting the wrong oil, or even exposing clean oil to contamination. For this reason, you should consider making the lube room key card access-only and limiting entry to those with lubrication training.
Storage of new oil is a central function of the lube room. The room will obviously contain storage drums and should also contain drum racks. New oil should be filtered before use, so you should either choose storage units with built-in filtration, or use a filter cart to cleanse oil in drums. These units should also be outfitted with desiccant breathers. Each storage container should be thoroughly labeled with the type of oil it contains, including base material, viscosity and additives. A color coding system will help make visually clear which oils belong in which machines and cut down on mistakes.
The lube room is also the place to store transfer pumps and valves, filter carts, portable storage containers, and all other lubrication-related supplies such as grease guns, oil cans, unused filters, cleaning supplies and absorbent materials to clean up spills. The key feature of storage should be careful organization. There should be a dedicated spot for each item, and that should be chosen deliberately, not by putting items down in the first free spot an employee sees. Items should be stored as close as possible to where they will be used, and frequently used items should be close to hand, to minimize the temptation to use the wrong item. Make use of shelves and storage lockers to maximize available space and keep items out of harm’s way. And make sure that transport containers are labeled and color-coded to prevent cross-contamination.
As with other aspects of running your plant, oversight can prevent standards from slipping. Conduct checks regularly to make sure that items are actually being put away, that everything in the room is meticulously clean, and that any spills are cleaned up immediately.
Following these steps will go a long way toward preventing careless or incorrect behavior in the lube room. To further reinforce high standards, make sure hard copies of policies and procedures are displayed where everyone can see them, such as on a wall or in a binder. And consider designating one employee who’s accountable for keeping the lube room clean and organized.
The lube room is more than just a place where oil is dispersed and transferred. It’s also a site where a company can create and reinforce a culture of effective, meticulous oil handling standards.