What Is a Lubrication Storage Room (Lube Room) and Why Is It Important? [Machinery Lubrication Framework]


Lubrication Elements™ from Uptime® Elements™ are a critical success factor for the journey to the precision domain, where an empowered, engaged, cross-functional culture begins to emerge.

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The precision operating domain includes precision lubrication for reliability - with the concept of Defect Elimination as expressed in Uptime Elements Reliability Framework and Don't Just Fix It - Improve It! by Winston Ledet and team.

Defects are anything that creates failure, cost, time/material/financial waste, erodes value, reduces production,  compromises health, poses safety risks, or negatively impacts sustainability.

Sources of Defects

Defect elimination is about eliminating the things that are creating the defects.  Precision practices such as lubrication, alignment, balancing, fastening, installation, purchasing, material handling commissioning, handover, operating procedures, maintenance competencies and skills, etc…

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Ensuring clean, dry and compatible lubes may be one small step for man, but it is a huge step for Reliability.  How an organization receives, stores, dispenses and disposes of lubricants will create the solid (Reliability Leadership) or shakely (Not) foundation for the Reliability journey.

New oil is 32 time dirtier than you want to add to asset lubrication systems.  Filtering, storage, dispensing, disposal practices support your journey to the precision domain.

Start an assets life with clean, dry, compatible oil.  Ensure asset breathing is accounted for.  Reliability of your asset is realized or destroyed upon installation.

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Most organization focus on sophisticated and expensive, asset condition monitoring that require subject matter expertise and state of the art technology to detect "P" or Potential Failure Phase prior to it reaching "F" Functional Failure Phase mode.

Much of what is detected in the typical P-F curve phase are self-induced failure through poor practices, such as poor lubrication asset lifecycle management.

The money or value is in extending the "I"  Installation Phase of the asset to the  "P" Potential Failure Phase and precision lubrication has HUGE potential to deliver!

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One of my favorite things to do on a plant visit it to "sandbag" my host near the end of the Reliability "Walk About" is to request to see the lubrication storage room.  A panicked look comes over my hosts face and he gets on the radio and soon we find ourselves creaking open an old store room door, or assembled under a high-traffic stairway or worse gathering around miscellaneous drums outdoors next to the parking lot.  Yikes!

Current Sad State of the Lube Room :-(


A few notes:

1.once the lubricant is on site it must be stored and managed appropriately. 

2.New oil that is delivered to a facility is not likely to be clean enough to apply to equipment.

3.Periodic sampling of new lubricants would validate this statement.

4.New oil should be clean prior to distribution.

5.Some contaminants increase the rate of oxidation and oil degradation, so new oil should be cleaned prior to storage.

Lubrication bulk storage best practices.

  • If the lubricant is delivered in bulk, the oil should be pumped through an appropriate micron and bata rating filter that is hard lined to the designated storage tank.
  • Each storage tank should be located in a clean dry enclosure.
  • Storage tanks should be ventilated with correctly sized and maintained desiccant breathers.
  • Each tank should have a kidney loop filtration system installed; Oil cannot be too clean.
  • Each tank should have a color coded label clearly identifying the lubricant enclosed.
  • Lubrication drum storage best practices.
  • Delivered drums should be carefully transferred to the storage location. Damaged drums should be discarded.
  • Drums should be located in a clean dry temperature controlled enclosure.
  • Drums should be stored slightly tilted to discard any spillage (the lower edge should be at 90deg to the bungs).
  • Bungs should be cleaned with lint free cloth prior to opening.
  • The small bung should be opened first and intimately have a desiccant breather installed.

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According to the Lubrication Elements authors at Des Case, a lube room is just what it sounds like: a room or area in a facility where lubricant is stored. But in order for your plant’s lube room to help you achieve your reliability goals, you need to know more than that.

First, there’s the room itself. It should be in an area that is as free as possible from particles and dirt, and where it is easy to maintain a constant temperature. For convenience, it should also be near the receiving area where new oil is delivered. Consider what will happen in the event of a spill, and consider installing a nonslip floor.

Another consideration is who will be able to enter the room. Imagine a situation in which an employee with lubrication training asks an untrained worker to get fetch machine oil for them to save time. The untrained worker could make a mistake like putting items away in the wrong place, selecting the wrong oil, or even exposing clean oil to contamination. For this reason, you should consider making the lube room key-card access-only and limiting entry to those with lubrication training.

Storage of new oil is a central function of the lube room. The room will obviously contain storage drums and should also contain drum racks. New oil should be filtered before use, so you should either choose storage units with built-in filtration, or use a filter cart to cleanse oil in drums. These units should also be outfitted with desiccant breathers. Each storage container should be thoroughly labeled with the type of oil it contains, including base material, viscosity and additives. A color coding system will help make visually clear which oils belong in which machines and cut down on mistakes.

The lube room is also the place to store transfer pumps and valves, filter carts, portable storage containers, and all other lubrication-related supplies such as grease guns, oil cans, unused filters, cleaning supplies and absorbent materials to clean up spills. The key feature of storage should be careful organization. There should be a dedicated spot for each item, and that should be chosen deliberately, not by putting items down in the first free spot an employee sees. Items should be stored as close as possible to where they will be used, and frequently used items should be close to hand, to minimize the temptation to use the wrong item. Make use of shelves and storage lockers to maximize available space and keep items out of harm’s way. And make sure that transport containers are labeled and color-coded to prevent cross-contamination.

As with other aspects of running your plant, oversight can prevent standards from slipping. Conduct checks regularly to make sure that items are actually being put away, that everything in the room is meticulously clean, and that any spills are cleaned up immediately.

Following these steps will go a long way toward preventing careless or incorrect behavior in the lube room. To further reinforce high standards, make sure hard copies of policies and procedures are displayed where everyone can see them, such as on a wall or in a binder. And consider designating one employee who’s accountable for keeping the lube room clean and organized.

The lube room is more than just a place where oil is dispersed and transferred. It’s also a site where a company can create and reinforce a culture of effective, meticulous oil handling standards.

Here are some great videos about lubrication best practices storage and transfer:

Best Practices for Lubricant Storage and Handling - A Fantastic short course by Jarrod Potteiger

The Road to Lubrication Excellence by Alan Knight, Mueller Company (5 Stars) Excellent real-world use case

Indoor storage of 55 Gallon Drums

Bulk oil storage and oil transfer

Lube Station Fluid Dispensing System

Satellite Lube Room

Best Practices for Lubricant Storage and Handling

Optimized Equipment Lubrication, Oil Mist Technology and Storage Preservation

I invite you to consider joining me for a future Certified Reliability Leadership Workshop.  We cover the journey to the Expansive Domain through the Precision Domain.


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Keep a mild groove on,

Terrence O'Hanlon

Executive Director

The Association of Asset Management Professionals

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