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This conclusion of a three-part article on “cradle-to-cradle” (C2C) management of a site’s lubricants examines practices that help ensure those products are and remain the best they can be. And, more important, that they provide the highest levels of performance possible.

Click To Read Part 1, “Document Your Current State” (Jan. 30, 2022)

Click To Read Part 2, “Consolidate & Prepare Your Storage Facility” (Feb. 6, 2022)


Before a lubricant can begin the work it was designed to do at the machine level, it must be transferred numerous times. In total, there are four specific phases in which a lubricant is susceptible to avoidable contamination. As listed below, they all are under the control of the end-user’s maintenance department:

1. prior to end-user receipt and acceptance from the oil manufacturer/supplier

2. while in maintenance storage, awaiting application in the end-user facility

3. during transfer from maintenance storage to the machine in the end-user facility

4. in use in the facility’s equipment.

In each of these phases, the end-user maintenance department plays a significant role in avoiding, managing, and controlling lubricant contamination.

To ensure make sure your supplier provides the cleanest lubricant(s) product possible, follow these simple rules before accepting bulk deliveries in your new storage and handling facility (i.e., lube room):

    • Insist on receiving a lubricant Certificate Of Analysis (COA) for each product delivered, and keep this document on file until the batch of lubricant has been used.
    • Never assume all lubricants are delivered per their COS-document specification.
    • Set up a delivery-acceptance agreement with the supplier to deliver lubricant based on the COA and/or a set of internal minimum cleanliness (see Table 1 of ISO 4406:1999 Guidelines) and viscosity specifications (within +/- 10% of COA specification).
    • Establish an oil-quality-analysis test acceptable to end-user and supplier and develop a service-level agreement that outlines lubricant-condemning levels and remedial action requirements should products fail the quality test on delivery.
    • Perform quality testing regularly by taking a bulk sample after the tanker truck lines have been flushed prior to transfer, and from the center of any supplier pre-filled containers.

Once new lubricants are in place, the end-user must perform a series of updates to manage them. This includes:

    • updating the site’s asset-management-PM system to reflect the new lubricant choices on the work order
    • updating machinery Bills of Materials (BOMs)
    • updating the Inventory portion of the asset-management system to reflect the new products
    • updating, if applicable, lubricant labeling on equipment reservoirs
    • updating SDS (Safety Data Sheet) manuals
    • updating maintenance and lubrication manuals
    • updating equipment manual(s)
    • updating purchasing records.

Depending on usage requirements of the plant, lubricants may be received in economical bulk form, or in a variety of pre-filled and sealed containers, such as totes, drums, and pails.

When choosing a bulk-storage/dispensing system for the plant’s lube room, stainless steel or polyethylene tanks are preferred over regular steel. Remember, these tanks are reservoirs unto themselves. Over time, if subjected to hot and cold heat cycles, a regular steel oil-storage tank can fall victim to internal corrosion. In turn, that corrosion will continually contaminate the stored oil and / or pre-exhaust any lubricant anti-corrosive additives.

When receiving lubricants in drums and pails, check for:

    • labels (i.e., legible labels in place) to ensure the lubricants can be assessed and accepted
    • type, brand, and viscosity to ensure a lubricant is sanctioned for use in the plant and to prevent accidental cross-contamination
    • batch and date of manufacture to ensure a lubricant’s lifecycle is maximized while it’s in storage t
    • evidence of container damage to ensure no possibility of leakage can occur.

While in storage, all bulk-storage tanks, totes, and drums should be fitted with breather dryers to eliminate moisture in the stored lubricants.

When managing and transferring lubricants, access to the products should be restricted to trained and certified in-plant and contracted lubricant specialists.

Once lubricating oil has been received and stored in the maintenance lube room, it’s typically transferred into a dedicated, matching-color-coded transport reservoir for delivery to a machine reservoir.

At this point, the oil must be filtered to the pre-determined ISO 4406 Cleanliness level. This is best accomplished using a dedicated filter cart fitted with appropriate pre-determined filtration-media-micron density to achieve the required cleanliness level. Use of a polymeric style filtration media is desirable, as it is specifically designed to take out any trace water in a lubricant as it passes through the media prior to transfer into a machine reservoir.

For More Details On Oil Cleanliness, Click On The Following Article Links 

 “How Clean Does Your Oil Need To Be?” (July 11, 2021)

“Eliminate Contamination: A Two-Part Strategy” (June 6, 2021)

Once the lubricant is in service, it is subject to the same reservoir stresses found in the storage phase (above). These stresses can be managed successfully using quality breather-dryer products. Remember, however, that while they’re in service, the oil and fluid filter(s) must be monitored on a regular basis.

(Note: Phase 4 will be the subject of an upcoming article in The RAM Review.)

This three-part article on development of “cradle to cradle” lubricant-management programs is, by no means, an exhaustive discussion of the topic. Rather, the intent is to provide insight into some fundamental elements that need to be addressed in the design and implementation of a best-practice C2C program.

Each plant is unique, and will have specific lubrication/lubricant issues, requirements, and questions that fall outside the scope of this article. Such items must be dealt with individually. Moreover, understanding and designing around them may require the assistance of a professional lubrication-management consultant.TRR

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

Tags: reliability, availability, maintenance, RAM, lubrication, lubricants, oil, grease, lubricant storage, lubricant transfer, filtration, oil cleanliness, breather dryers, lubricant Certificate of Analysis, ISO 4406:1999 Guidelines