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Benchmarking Your Lubrication Program against a ‘Best Practice’

After more than 21 years of experience dealing with client lubrication programs this author has concluded that there is a common trait that exists between nearly all companies with respect to their lubrication programs. That trait is 'confidence'.

Sounds good, right? No one would argue that there is a benefit to having a high level of confidence in the ability to accomplish a task. Confidence leads to definitive action, but does confidence lead to the correct action?

Lets put this into perspective a bit. Consider the growing confidence of a teenage boy. A good measure of confidence is necessary for him to become his own person, but confidence without knowledge leads to foolishness. Most teenage boys think they are effective automobile drivers, but would you put your son, or nephew, in a high-power automobile on a racetrack, and tell him to 'open'er up and see what you can do'.

Not likely! Your collective experience reminds you that confidence is not enough to get the maximum performance from the automobile. But, once that teenage boy is subjected to precise instruction under properly controlled conditions, the confidence and proper type of experience combined may enable him to take full advantage of the power on the racetrack.

Grading Lubrication Practices

Once again, is your lubrication program any good? Is your confidence rooted in your own impressions, or is it rooted in a comparison to some objective standard? Wouldn't you like to know if your confidence is justified or misplaced?

Over the next 10 months Reliability Web and AMRRI will provide an opportunity for you to grade your lubrication practices from a purely objective point of view. Each month an article explaining a portion of the 10-part benchmark process will be accompanied by a web-based benchmark form that you may use to grade your own practices.

The grading process will be presented in the form of a survey. The survey will have nine distinct segments as follows:

  1. Vendor Selection Process
  2. Lubricant Delivery, Storage and In-plant Handling Process
  3. Lubricant Technical Selection Practices
  4. Lubricant Application Practices
  5. Oil Analysis Program Practices
  6. Condition Control Practices
  7. Lubrication Program Management and Personnel Development
  8. Standardization (SOP's) Machine Lubrication Practices
  9. Safety, Health and Environmental Practices

The nine segments represent aspects of both effective (precise) machine lubrication, and effective organizational management. Toward the end of the process we will add a place where you can ‘factor' your survey with a priority rating for each of the nine segments, which will be based on your sites priorities. Each segment will have an average of about 30 condition statements that require responses. The condition statements are statements of fact reflecting conditions that represent a 'best practice' based on the author's research, personal experience and past benchmarking activities.

Each statement should include only one factual criterion, and each statement should be acknowledgeable with a Yes or No, marked as either a 1 (yes) or a 0 (no) on the worksheet or on the online benchmarking tool. The scoring scale is listed below:

Obj. Score (Objective Score)
0 = The statement is FALSE
1 = The statement is TRUE

If you would like a more comprehensive assessment methodology: For the statements that receive a Yes response, the criterion is then graded subjectively by providing a quality score between 1 and 5 (1 is poor quality/no consistency and 5 is superior quality/absolute consistency). The subjective/qualitative rating allows the inspector to influence the results if the inspector's opinion is warranted.

These two scores are multiplied together and then multiplied by two to put the results on a 10 point scale. (You may ask, why put this on a 5-point scale to start with?.... We will address this later!) If the subjective score category is left empty, then the score defaults to the objective score. The comprehensive rating system is displayed below for your review.

Quality Score - The quality with which the item(s) is/are completed:
1 = Poorly done
2 = Done sporadically or without concern for technical accuracy
3 = Done with care but limited skill or capability to improve the quality
4 = Done with attention to detail, but limited skill or knowledge
5 = Done with careful attention to detail and quality, and with a high degree of skill

At the end of the series Reliability Web and AMRRI will present a summary of all the surveys that have been conducted on-line, against which you can compare your specific results. The process, and accompanying user data, will be summarized and presented again as a half-day course at the International Maintenance Conference in December, 2007.

Mike Johnson

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