512-800-6031 editor@ramreview.com

In the maintenance world, tools are indispensible in that they allow a maintainer to perform and complete work in a safe, consistent, and efficient manner  (see article “Using the Right Tool for the Job”). When we think of tools, most will immediately picture a handheld device used to accomplish a task. Very few will recognize or think of a manual as a tool.

A manual is simply a handbook used to convey instruction or information regarding a specific subject matter, process, and/or machine. This type of vital tool is developed and used for maintainers to readily access and recall critical information on the subject matter in printed or electronic format.  A lubrication manual provides a place where all information collected for development of a lubrication program can be stored and accessed for future reference.

Click Here For Ken Bannister’s June 19, 2020 Article
“Using The Right Tool For The Job”

The goal of the corporate lubrication program is to ensure that all equipment receives and maintains the required levels of lubrication so that no equipment fails due to inadequate or improper lubrication. The process of developing a lubrication program requires the collection of a significant amount of equipment data, usually found in disperse locations. Collecting and centralizing such data requires considerable time and effort, making it worthwhile to consolidate such data into a manual tailored specifically to serve the needs of the plant and equipment identified within the program’s master lubrication schedule.

A typical lubrication manual is broken into four specific elements that form easy reference sections for manual navigation.

1. The first element is the Master Lubrication Schedule (MLS) developed as a result of an initial program survey to identify and tag all plant assets requiring lubrication. The MLS provides a list of lubricated assets identified by the asset’s unique tag number found in the work management system. Under each tag number, specific lubrication-related data is collected and compiled to include:

      • manufacturer
      • model
      • equipment orientation
      • bearing types to be lubricated
      • lubricant type (oil, grease)
      • lubrication application method (bath splash, circulation system, oil mist, grease point, etc.)
      • lubrication point location maps
      • lubrication system drawings with part numbers identified
      • lubrication frequency
      • normal operating temperature
      • reservoir capacities
      • horsepower
      • RPM
      • copies of lubricant sections found in Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) operation
        and maintenance (O&M) manuals.

2. The second element references all lubricants (oil and grease) to be managed and used within the plant. The lubricant list is decided upon early in the program, once a lubricant-consolidation process has taken place to reduce and minimize the number of documented lube products purchased, stored, and managed in the plant confines.

Each lubricant is documented in the manual as part of a lubricant master list, and an OEM-lubricant-product-data sheet is attached for each lubricant.

3. The third element covers safety.  This section of the manual will, at a minimum, address the following:

      • location map depicting of all safety eye- and body-wash stations and lubricant (waste and new) storage locations
      • copies of lubricant Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for all lubricants listed in section two of the manual.
      • all safety related Process Flow Diagrams (PFD) regarding handling and storage of new and waste lubricants
      • lockout/tagout procedure.

4. The fourth element addresses lubrication work management through a series of work and process flow diagrams that must minimally include the following:

      • lube routes
      • lubrication work order completion process
      • lubricant receiving process
      • lubricant receiving process
      • lubricant storage process
      • lubricant waste management collection and storage process.

Keep in mind that a site’s lubrication manual must be a controlled document, with each copy version controlled and managed through a document-management program for circulation control and updates. All personnel working in the lubrication program are to receive a personal “signed for” hard copy of the lubrication manual. Additional copies are supplied to the corporate/department library and electronically online for all other maintenance personnel.TRR

Editor’s Note: More information on setting up a lubrication-management program can be found in the book
Practical Lubrication and Industrial Facilities – Third Edition (ISBN 0-88173-761-5),

by Ken Bannister and Heinz Bloch. This article is based on information from that book.


Ken Bannister has 40+ years of experience in the RAM industry. For the past 30, he’s been a Managing Partner and Principal Asset Management Consultant with Engtech industries Inc., where he has specialized in helping clients implement best-practice asset-management programs worldwide. A founding member and past director of the Plant Engineering and Maintenance Association of Canada, he is the author of several books, including three on lubrication, one on predictive maintenance, and one on energy reduction strategies, and is currently writing one on planning and scheduling. Contact him directly at 519-469-9173 or kbannister@theramreview.com.


Tags: asset management, reliability, availability, maintenance, RAM, lubrication management, lubrication programs