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How to quantify the benefits of a lubrication programme

Few can argue with the need for a good lubrication programme with quality products, such as those from Mobil stockists. While many people talk about increased reliability, less unscheduled downtime, and greater efficiency, this all amounts to one basic factor: money. This is what companies exist for, and proving that a lubrication programme can bring financial benefits is the best way to persuade decision-makers.

You can start by talking the language of leaders and managers with a cost-benefit analysis (CBA). Rather than discussing contamination and machine wear, your CBA should speak in terms in the yield and benefits an investment will bring.

You can start by positioning your CBA around opportunity costs. These are real costs the company is currently paying, costs that your proposal could potentially eliminate. The aim of a good lubrication programme, especially when justifying the higher cost of advanced lubricants like Mobil ATF LT71141, is lower overall maintenance costs, so this is a good place to start looking for these opportunity costs.

From the total maintenance costs, you can start by identifying costs that result from machinery not operating at full capacity. This obviously includes unscheduled downtime, but it could also encompass excessive scheduled downtime, such as from inefficient lubrication practices. From these, you can then start isolating the cost of repairs and downtime caused by mechanical wear of lubricated components. The next step is to make a reasonable estimate as to what proportion of these failures could have been avoided with better lubrication practices. It’s not unusual to save around 10% on overall operating costs.

While there are clearly potential cost savings, it can be difficult to come up with a predicted return on investment (ROI). If you implement lubrication excellence, there is no way of knowing how many failures it has prevented. Moreover, failures could actually go up after implementing a programme, not through any fault of the programme itself but rather from a particular set of circumstances (e.g. aging machinery). Not meeting the predicted ROI can only look bad for further projects.

An ROI can also overlook many fringe benefits, such as improving employee skills and meeting sustainability goals (e.g. using less oil overall). Tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) may therefore be a better way of monitoring progress over time. It may be difficult to link some savings to associated cost savings, but it’s a good idea to track whatever you can, otherwise you have nothing to compare further down the road.

Implementing an excellent lubrication programme can be a challenging endeavour, and the results may take months or even years to become evident. It’s therefore important to stress the long-term benefits. For example, well-lubricated machinery will have fewer outages, making it more productive in the long term, and likely use less energy, therefore reducing running costs. For example, the Mobil DTE 10 Excel series of hydraulic oils can increase hydraulic efficiency by up to 6% when compared to its traditional counterparts. All these factors help a manufacturer’s long-term competitiveness.

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