According to industry experts, the most common source of oil contamination is the transfer of lubricants between bulk containers and filling points. Contaminants can be introduced to the oil from dirty transfer containers or by using the wrong oil.
Lubricants are usually topped off or filled into systems every day by maintenance personnel. Their objective is to extend the equipment’s lifespan and performance. However, many of them unknowingly use chemically-depleted lubricants or they accidentally add multiple lubricant types to their equipment. They may also add lubricants contaminated with particulates, chemicals, or moisture. Usually, this is due to improper storage and transfer of lubricants in the plant.
A lubricant should be considered a working component, just like bearings, gears, and valves. Just as one would not install a dirty or damaged bearing on a piece of equipment, “damaged” lubricants should not be added to the machine. Maintaining your lubricants, and ultimately your equipment, begins with proper in-plant lubrication storage and handling.
This article contains the following tips for proper in-plant lubrication storage and handling:
The shelf life of lubricants is largely determined by the additive package. Some lubricants, for instance, may no longer function optimally after as little as six months in storage if they contain rust inhibitors. In contrast, some turbine fluids with a light additive dose may be stored for up to three years. Your lubricant supplier or manufacturer can provide shelf life information for each product.
For optimal lubricant performance, learn how to read the coded dates on lubricant container labels and use first-in-first-out (FIFO) rotation for storing lubricants.
You should also be aware of and manage the conditions that influence the shelf life recommended by the manufacturer.
Below are some of the conditions that can adversely affect a lubricant’s storage life. If your facility experiences any of these adverse environments or if you have questions about the shelf life of your oil, contact Industrial Sealing & Lubrication for help maximizing the life of your lubrication.
Changes in temperatures will cause air to move between the atmosphere and the head-space of the lubricant storage container. This is known as thermal siphoning. The air movement is increased in partially full containers with greater head-space. Though drums are sealed and do not leak lubricant through their bungs, rigid containers still inhale air as the temperature drops and exhale as the temperature rises. Moisture and small particles in the air enter the container along with the air. This can degrade the base lubricant and the additives. When temperatures fluctuate, water sometimes condenses within the drum. As a result, the water sinks to the bottom of the container and is pumped into the machine when lubricant is added.
Chemical degradation can occur due to extreme hot or cold temperatures. Rust inhibitors are one example of products that undergo performance losses even after six months of normal storage. Some rust inhibitors are poorly soluble in base oils, which can result in precipitation during storage. During cold storage, precipitation is accelerated.
Petroleum-based lubricants absorb moisture when exposed to humid air. The moisture immediately causes the additives to degrade. Additionally, the base stock of the lubricant oxidizes faster when added to a machine.
Lubricants come in a variety of forms, so they can be purchased and stored according to your consumption rate and storage methods.
The main methods of transporting and storing lubricants are:
Consider the following factors when you choose the appropriate lubricant package to purchase:
Your storage facility’s condition is also important. How you store lubricants can have a huge impact on their shelf life. A clean, dry area with a moderate temperature and proper storage racks will increase the shelf life of lubricants. The shelf life of lubricants will be greatly reduced in a dirty, moist environment with fluctuating temperatures.
Adopt oil storage and handling procedures that prevents contamination and eliminates cross contamination:
Industrial Sealing & Lubrication can help you create a failsafe oil storage and transfer system using color coded gravity flow or pump systems that are part of the Spectrum Visual Lubrication Management System by Trico.
The Spectrum Visual Lubrication Management System helps prevent cross contamination and improper lubrication. These products use color-coding to ensure the right lubricant is used in the right place on the right piece of equipment.
Our customers appreciate that we don’t just want to sell them products. We help them design the right storage solution that is best for them. Whether you are starting from scratch or have a plan in mind, our expert staff can get you started and work alongside you every step of the way.
We carry customizable solutions. You can start off with a simple solution to store 55 gallon drums. Then, when the time if right, expand your solution with metal or plastic tank systems.
If you are ready to extend your equipment’s lifespan and performance, and increase the return on investment on your equipment, contact us and one of our trained reliability specialists will help you design a storage and handling system that is right for you.