According to research by Lubrication Engineers (LE), 90% of all lubrication contamination occurs before the lubricant is ever applied. “Only 10% of lubrication contamination happens after the oil has been applied to the machinery, mainly thanks to human error or cross-contamination within the machine itself,” says Callum Ford, National Marketing Manager at LE South Africa. “The major contamination risk is actually created by poor lubrication management, especially storage and distribution.”
By focusing on improving these areas, organisations can drastically reduce the risk of lubricant contamination and spills, thus protecting their equipment and ensuring operational health and safety compliance.
“Traditionally, lubrication storage has not been a priority for companies, but it should be,” says Ford. “They might be buying the ideal product for a plant, but if the lubricant is contaminated before it’s even applied, it’s a waste. Organisations need to move away from haphazard lubrication storage and dispensing to a systematic approach. This sort of simple house-keeping is the foundation for good asset reliability management.”
LE’s Xpel oil bulk storage containers have been designed around optimising lubrication management so that it is clean, organised, safe, efficient and reliable. “Basically, the ideal is to have a closed loop system,” says Ford. “This minimises risk at every stage of the lubrication management cycle, right from taking delivery of a lubrication to storing it and applying it. The more chance the oil has to be exposed to the elements, the more chance it has to be contaminated before it is added to the machinery.”
LE offers Xpel bulk storage systems, which are modular and thus customisable. They are available in different sizes and configurations to meet every requirement. They are colour-coded for accurate lubricant identification and come with either gravity-fed dispensers or pressured dispensing capability. They meet best practice guidelines and standards for fire safety and are built for spill control and durability.
All LE Xpel bulk storage systems come with top-mounted level gauges to allow for easy and safe viewing of tank fill level, as well as a retractable cable reel grounding kit and system earth lugs to mitigate static-electricity build up. They are suitable for storing machinery lubricating oils and glycol-based coolants and come standard with 110V single phase TEFC motors (although they can be configured for other power supplies as required).
LE also supplies smaller Xpel oil storage containers, which are the next link in the lubrication storage chain. “From the bulk dispensers, lubricants are decanted into specially designed containers, each of which has a specific shape and adheres to the same colour-coded system as the bulk units, ensuring that the right lubricant is dispensed for application. This means there is no problem with lubricant cross-contamination from putting a product into a container that has previously housed a different lubricant, and that the entire process becomes standardised. For example, you only decant lubricant from the yellow bulk tank to the yellow storage container, and applied it to the yellow-labelled machine. If your colours don’t match up – you have gone wrong somewhere.”
The storage containers are also available with a variety of nozzles, with or without a pump and / or hose, as required.
“We have seen how putting a lubrication storage process and system in place has helped our clients to make their lubrication management less messy and more effective, and how this has ripple effects in terms of needing to buy less lubricant, and seeing better overall productivity and less downtime,” says Ford. “By weeding out lubricant contamination before it happens, machinery lasts longer and lubrication schedules are more accurate. We honestly believe that a cradle-to-grave lubrication management system is one of the most effective upgrades a company can make.”