This article first appeared in the 2013 Industrial Distribution January/February issue. You can view it here.
While not touted as the most exciting products of the day, what this glitch in popularity doesn’t emphasize about lubricants is how extremely necessary they are to get nearly any job done in the industrial marketplace. A good lubricant, and a competent lubrication strategy, can be the key to a well-oiled shop, literally and figuratively.
Jim Girard, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at LUBRIPLATE Lubricants Co., would argue that lubricants can make or break a manufacturer’s chance of success. “Using the correct lubricant extends machinery life and saves energy,” says Jim. “When you use the proper lubricant, you reduce friction which is what a lubricant is supposed to do.” The key is the proper lubricant in the proper amount.
Girard recommends that any lubricant user have a dependable lubrication supplier come into their facilities and do a thorough lubrication survey. This shouldn’t be focused solely on the types or volume of lubrications used, but should encompass “all of the points on the machine that need to be lubricated.” An additional step is to have your supplier affix machinery tags at each point of application denoting both the type and amount of lubrication needed at that point. If a facility can take the guesswork out of the process, they can cut down significantly on misapplication and cut back on the amount of lubrication being used, saving money in the short term on initial lubrication costs, and in the long term with extended machinery life and less equipment downtime due to over- or under-application and human error. Machine tags can be color coded to the lubricant, and can even be printed in multiple languages to streamline the process further. Distributors should seek to partner with lubrication suppliers that offer these services to their clients.
For companies that want to do even more to streamline costs, Girard suggests looking into many of the new biodegradable synthetic lubricants available today. Whether they are ultimately, readily, or inherently biodegradable, synthetics offer longer life, leading to less disposal costs, and a stamp of approval in the sustainability column for companies concerned with going green.
Using the proper lubricant can be energy efficient, cost-reducing, and good for the environment. That is pretty cool.