Greasing the Wheels of Success: a Roadmap to Lubrication Excellence 

Yup, it’s 2024 already! And it goes without saying that maintaining machinery at peak performance is not just a goal but a necessity. A well-structured lubrication program stands as the linchpin for ensuring smooth, efficient, and cost-effective machinery functioning. To achieve this, organizations can follow a strategic approach, encapsulated in a four-step framework presented below:

1. The Program Foundation – Building a Solid Groundwork for Success 

To embark on a journey towards an exemplary lubrication program, industries need a sturdy foundation. This involves understanding the intricacies of the machinery, identifying lubrication requirements, and establishing clear protocols. A comprehensive assessment of current practices and potential gaps may lay the groundwork for the subsequent steps, creating a roadmap for success.  

Key elements include the following: 

  • Precision Lubrication Quantities and Frequencies: Ensure that lubricant quantities and application frequencies are meticulously calculated to meet the specific needs of each machine, promoting optimal performance and longevity. 
  • Strategic Lubricant Selection: Optimize lubricant selection based on the unique requirements of individual machines. Tailor your choices to enhance efficiency and minimize wear and friction: 
  • Lubrication Champion and Training: Designate a Lubrication Champion who is not only well-versed in lubrication best practices but has undergone specialized training. This individual will be instrumental in driving the success of the lubrication program.
  • Comprehensive Training Matrix: Establish a thorough training matrix covering all personnel involved in lubrication activities. Equip your team with the knowledge and skills necessary for effective lubrication practices.
  • Documented Lubrication Policies: Document clear and comprehensive lubrication policies for all activities. This ensures a standardized approach and serves as a reference for consistent implementation across the organization.
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Document Key Performance Indicators for all lubrication-related activities. This enables the continuous monitoring and evaluation of the lubrication program’s effectiveness, guiding improvements where necessary.
  • Guidelines for Equipment Modification: Set clear guidelines for equipment modification to maintain compatibility with lubrication requirements. This ensures that any changes made to machinery align with the established lubrication standards.
  • Validation of Lubrication Tasks: Validate lubrication tasks for each asset based on a thorough analysis of failure modes and criticality. Tailor lubrication activities to address specific risks and prioritize tasks accordingly.
  • Roles and Responsibilities Definition: Clearly define roles and responsibilities within the lubrication program. Establishing accountability ensures that each team member understands their contribution to the overall success of the program.

Acknowledging that Program Foundation (Step 1) is a time-intensive process requiring at least 12 months is crucial for setting realistic expectations and ensuring a thorough and well-executed foundation.

2. Implementation: Executing Precision for Optimal Performance 

With a solid foundation in place, the next step is seamless implementation. This involves the precise execution of lubrication strategies developed in the foundation phase. Implementing best practices, utilizing state-of-the-art lubricants, and employing advanced technologies ensure that machinery operates at its full potential. Adequate training for personnel involved is paramount to guarantee consistency and reliability in the lubrication process: 

  • Consolidation of Lubricants by Providers: Streamline lubricant sourcing by consolidating providers. This ensures standardized quality and facilitates efficient inventory management. 
  • Proper Tagging of Lubricated Points: Implement a systematic tagging system for all lubricated points. Proper labeling ensures clarity and precision in identifying and servicing each lubrication point. 
  • Tagging and Mapping of Oil Sampling Points: Rigorously tag and map oil sampling points, linking them directly to the laboratory. This establishes a seamless process for sample collection, analysis, and interpretation. 
  • Asset Modification for Lubrication Tasks: Modify assets to optimize accessibility and facilitate all lubrication-related tasks. This includes ensuring that lubrication points are easily reachable for maintenance activities. 
  • Filtration System Modification: Update filtration systems to accommodate new lubricants in alignment with established policies. This ensures compatibility and effectiveness of the lubrication process. 
  • Stakeholder Training Program: Conduct a comprehensive training program for all stakeholders involved in lubrication activities. This includes personnel responsible for application, sampling, and analysis, ensuring a well-informed and skilled team. 
  • Review of Oil Analysis Tests and Methods: Regularly review and update oil analysis tests and methods in accordance with established policies. This ensures that testing protocols remain aligned with industry standards and technological advancements. 

Acknowledging that the Implementation phase (Step 2) is a year-long process is essential for managing expectations and ensuring a thorough and successful integration of the lubrication program. 

3. Reinforcement: Sustaining Excellence Over Time 

Organizations can fortify the foundation established in the previous steps by sampling incoming oils, building SOPs, and integrating oil analysis results with the CMMS to enhance their ability to respond swiftly and accurately to identified issues. Employee engagement and commitment play a crucial role during this phase, as they contribute to a culture of accountability and excellence. 

  • Sample All New Incoming Oils: Implement a rigorous sampling protocol for all new incoming oils. This ensures that each batch meets the required quality standards before integration into the lubrication system. Regular sampling helps maintain consistency and enhances overall lubricant quality. 
  • Deployment of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): Roll out comprehensive Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for all lubrication-related tasks. Clearly defined procedures establish a standardized approach, promoting consistency, efficiency, and adherence to best practices across the organization. 
  • Integration of Oil Analysis Results with CMMS: Enhance the management of corrective actions derived from oil analysis results by integrating this information with the Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS). This integration streamlines the process of implementing corrective measures based on real-time data and analysis outcomes. 

At this point, 80% of the most important things are in place, and it is normal that step 3 can easily be implemented within 6 months. 

4. Continuous Improvement: Adapting to the Future 

The Continuous Improvement phase is aptly named because it is an ongoing, iterative process that has no set endpoint. Continuous Improvement is a philosophy that encourages organizations to consistently assess, adapt, and enhance their practices to achieve optimal efficiency, effectiveness, and sustainability. 

In the context of a lubrication program, the commitment to continuous improvement is a recognition that technology, industry standards, and organizational needs are dynamic and subject to change. Therefore, the process of refining lubrication strategies, embracing new technologies, and adapting to evolving circumstances is perpetual: 

  • Adaptability: The ability to adapt to changing conditions, technologies, and industry best practices is fundamental to continuous improvement. 
  • Feedback-Driven: Regular feedback loops from stakeholders and ongoing assessment processes provide valuable insights for improvement. 
  • Proactive Problem Solving: Continuous Improvement involves identifying potential issues before they become major problems and implementing corrective actions proactively. 
  • Employee Engagement: Involving and engaging employees at all levels fosters a culture of innovation and improvement. 
  • Benchmarking: Regular benchmarking against industry standards and best practices helps identify areas where the organization can excel. 
  • Incorporation of New Technologies: Embracing emerging technologies that can enhance lubrication practices is a key aspect of continuous improvement. 
  • Flexibility in Policies: Policies and procedures are continually reviewed and adapted to align with changing needs and circumstances. 


In conclusion, achieving and maintaining a world-class lubrication program requires a strategic and disciplined approach. By establishing a robust foundation, executing precise implementation, consistently reinforcing best practices, and committing to continuous improvement, industries can not only enhance machinery performance but also pave the way for sustainable success in the ever-evolving industrial landscape. Embrace the journey towards operational excellence through the four pillars of a world-class lubrication program! 

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