January 29, 2016

Can You Delegate Lubrication Reliability?

Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) is all about optimizing the reliability of a given system by employing an optimized array of maintenance actions. This is a worthy goal for anyone responsible for a manufacturing plant, a mine, a gathering system, a distribution system, or any complex system. Transitioning to any new maintenance philosophy or approach, however, takes commitment.

If you are truly committed to making a change, is it reasonable to delegate some of the responsibility to someone else? Someone outside of your team altogether?

The answer, of course, is yes, but how much? Let’s use the analogy of the human body. You’ve decided that you want to become healthier – to increase the reliability of the complex system that is you. You make a commitment to your goal by eating well, getting exercise, avoiding or dealing with stress appropriately, getting enough sleep – all of the things you know are important for maintaining your health. You don’t stop there, however. You make sure you see a doctor regularly for checkups, including various tests.

These routine tests – like a blood test, for example – are a part of becoming healthier. Regardless of how much you are committed to your health, however, you don’t take it so far as to try to interpret the test results yourself. You discuss the results with your health care provider to find out if you are on the right track, if you need to make some minor adjustments, or if there is something serious to be looked at more closely. You make every effort to understand your test results, but you rely on a trained expert to do the actual interpretation. Fluid Life’s CARE program (Condition Assessment & Reliability Evaluation) is like your health care provider, the trained expert looking at your test results and giving you the advice you need to improve.

Let’s face it – you know your equipment as well as anyone, and better than most. You’ve operated it, maintained it, repaired it, and overhauled it. You know it inside and out, so you know what to look for in your oil analysis. Now that you’re in charge of the maintenance program, however, there is a much larger population of equipment to manage, and your operations and maintenance teams are the ones taking the oil samples and getting the results. Your people are good – perhaps you trained some of them yourself – but they each do things a bit differently. They each interpret their oil analysis results according to their own experiences, and prioritize their work base on the need of the areas for which they are responsible. When your job is to optimize the maintenance program across the entire company, site, or fleet, you may not have the time to review every analysis result yourself. With your team prioritizing based on their own areas’ needs, how can you ensure you are spending your limited resources on the most pressing issues? How can you optimize company-wide?

Delegating to Reliability Specialists

By delegating your lubrication reliability program to the specialists at CARE, you are turning over the review and interpretation of your analysis to a team of trained experts, with a database of over five million oil samples from which they can draw.

  • You still get all of your results, of course, but CARE specialists will prioritize your results, identifying those units that need the most immediate attention, and provide advice, allowing you to concentrate on the most pressing issues first.
  • Results are not simply flagged – they are explained. Advice about where to look or what to do is provided.
  • The maintenance history of the equipment is captured as you report it.
  • Failure patterns, drawn not only from your own equipment but from similar equipment across your industry or across all industries, are examined and used to predict problems before they become catastrophic.
  • You are immediately alerted when something is going critically wrong, and have the opportunity to intervene with appropriate, condition-based maintenance.
  • Your savings, as approved by you, are calculated, tracked, and reported to you by your specialist.
  • Finally, your specialist can work with you to see what systemic improvements can be made – from fluid cleanliness programs to extend the working life of equipment, to extended oil drain interval programs to reduce lubricant consumption and increase equipment availability, to supporting other lubricant-related initiatives you might have.

If it sounds like what you are getting with a CARE specialist is a member of your maintenance team with an outstanding background in lubrication and tribology, that’s because you are. CARE specialists become part of your team, and are dedicated to your success. Like your own employees, they sweat the details, work to help solve your problems, and celebrate your successes. All at a price that is a fraction of the salary of even the most junior operations or maintenance team member.

So, yes, you can delegate lubrication reliability safely and effectively. Doing so gets you years of experience, training, and expertise to help you with optimizing your maintenance expenditures.  It frees you up to focus on other improvements to you Reliability Centered Maintenance program, knowing your lubrication analysis responsibilities are in good hands.