What is most misunderstood and costly to your operation?
Lubricants and Lubrication!
By: John H. Marino
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Do you know that your equipment produces a profit on a thin film called
lubricant? The most important but yet the most mismanaged in 99% of all
companies is lubricants and/or lubrication. That�s why, it has been reported,
that 60% to 70% of all mechanical failures are due to inadequate lubricants and
Savings of millions of dollars per year is possible through reduction in
lubricants costs of 48% to 74%. Sounds incredible? Yes, but it�s absolutely
true. These are documented figures from companies that knew their lubricant
costs were excessive but had no idea of the magnitude or what to do about it.
To accomplish vital cost reductions on lubricants a company must develop a
firm and well thought out strategy on the purchase of lubricants. Significant
cost reductions are possible. The key is acquiring the knowledge about the
product and consolidation.
Some of the more common reasons why controls are lost include:
salesmanship by the vendor, convenience, brand loyalty, purchasing authority
at multiple locations and (of major consequences) the lack of lubricant
knowledge. Look at your purchasing records. How many brands of lubricants
does your company currently have?
The single most important tool in reducing lubricant costs and keeping them in
line is up to date lubricant specifications. In our daily lives we use
specifications such as purchasing vehicles, clothing or food. Why don�t we
use specifications for purchasing lubricants? Meaningful specifications can be
written which allow the purchase of a product that has multi-purpose and
multi-use capabilities. For example, a lubricant or lubricants, which are usable
in both gasoline and diesel engines. A helpful hint: use lubricating greases that
are all in the same family to avoid incompatibility and misapplication. Another
action that can reduce lubricant inventory is a thorough study of application
needs. This is an important by-product of the specifications writing process.
Since sales information concerning lubricants can be confusing, how does one
go about making the correct lubricants choice? The only sure way is to have a
clear set of rules and definitions (specifications). These specifications should
originate from the engineering department working in unison with the
purchasing department. Generalized specifications such as supplier�s brief
catalogue descriptions have very little, if any value. Overly stringent
specifications make it difficult to obtain bids while increasing a lubricants price
dramatically. Detailed and meaningful specifications are needed for several
1.To minimize the number of lubricants used
2.To purchase the required ones at the correct prices
This enables the material management and/or purchasing personnel to have
definite guidelines that can be presented to a greater number of suppliers who
will want to bid on the requirements. Having other vendors bid on lubricant
brands presently being used can be disastrous due to the fact that there is a
good possibility that these lubricants may not be correct for the applications
because of �hand me downs.� Lubricants and lubrication is still the primary
method of preventative maintenance and specification bidding allows a
company to make a selection � not only on price � but on the ability of the
vendor to provide full service as well.
Remember that in today�s streamlined company profiles, there is usually no
place for a well-qualified Lubricant Engineer. This function has often been
reassigned to someone in sales or purchasing as a sideline to his/her primary
responsibilities. Once the desired specifications are in place, they become like
a road map for all personnel involved in keeping your company�s equipment
operating profitably. Since lubricant technology is constantly changing, all
lubricant specification needs and pricing must be reviewed annually.
The following points should definitely be taken into consideration when
selecting and purchasing lubricants:
- Training � Promotes teamwork that allows personnel to attain desired
- Certification � Identifying services by passing a written exam for a
certifier in the field of lubricants and lubrication.
- Meaningful lubricants specifications detailed to meet your needs.
- Beware of materials placed in lubricants for demonstration purposes
that are of no value and increase your costs.
- Significance of lubricants test date and terminology.
- Cost effective package selection.
- Are certain size containers really needed?
- Who pays for the decorated package?
- What about bulk?
- "Just in time" buying, including:
- Supplier�s location to needed destination.
- Inventory control � keeping it to a workable minimum.
- Services to expect from lubricant suppliers (is price the only thing?).
- Are we using the correct lubricant on the various applications?
Applying these criteria allows you to recognize the real costs of various
lubricants. This provides you with a judgmental position to obtain the best
price while allowing your supplier a reasonable profit and the ability to provide
your company with efficient service. Getting the most out of a companies
lubricating dollar is, in reality, a team effort. The end user must have the input
into the process and the purchasing arm of the company must see that their
communication with the supplier achieves that goal in order to have any
chance for lubrication success.
One of our clients clearly states the above objective:
"The responsibility for establishing specifications for material and equipment rest with department requiring the item to be purchased. The specifications
must be prepared in a manner that foster competitive bidding and must clearly
define the necessary performance, service and delivery requirements".
Fulfilling the growing needs of companies who no longer have a Lubrication
Engineer or who know they need expertise is a responsibility that can be filled
by Lubrication Institute in order to reduce your company�s costs.
John H. Marino is President and founder of Lubrication Institute, LLC which
has its offices in Overland Park, Kansas. He has had 43 plus years experience
in the lubricant business and has seen the incredible impact lubrication can
have on a company�s profit margin. His international firm specializes in
lubricants and lubrication training, cost control, usage, inventory and storage
of greases and oils, plus offers guidance to individual lubricant needs, such as
formulation, manufacturing, equipment design and testing, and serves as an
expert witness. He has formulated over 250,000 different types of lubricants.
Marino�s knowledge of lubricants dates back to his positions as Research
Chemist, Plant Manager, Vice President of Research and Development, and
President at Southwest Grease and Oil of Kansas City, which was the world�s
largest independent manufacturer of lubricants. Marino�s reputation as an expert
on lubricants is known throughout the industry. He is frequently a speaker at
corporate and technical meetings and has written numerous articles. His
educational lubricant courses have been widely received by many Fortune 500
companies each year. Lubrication Institute is unique and successful because
they do not sell or recommend lubricants by brand name.
See his Profile on Experts.com.
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