How Industrial Lubricants Should Be Stored and Handled for Optimal Performance

Pouring oil to car engine. Fresh oil poured during an oil change to a car.

Lubricants are important to machine performance, but their condition can change during storage. Proper storage can reduce the risk of contamination, which is the cause of many machine breakdowns. Ideally, lubricants should be stored indoors in an area that meets various safety standards. If this is not possible, a drum shelter or tarpaulin should be used to protect the lubricants from weather-degrading elements.

Choosing the Right Storage Containers

Lubricants must be stored in clean, safe containers. Containers should be easy to access for the maintenance team, and they must be able to handle large amounts of fluid without contaminating it or transferring dirt or dust into the container. Long-term storage at moderate temperatures and other proper conditions, as instructed by the lubricant producer, can extend the shelf life of most lubricants. However, some lubricants degrade over time, even in ideal conditions, so it is important to develop a system that allows for quick and accurate refills of your lubricants.

It may involve tracking consumption, establishing a first-in, first-out rotation of product for your lubrication storage area, and determining how often you receive a delivery from your supplier. It will enable you to achieve equilibrium between the inventory levels in your establishment and the required quantity of industrial lubricant Richmond VA, you have in stock, thereby preventing shortages and the ensuing disruptions.

Labeling the Containers

Many industrial sites have several types of lubricants in their storage area, each with unique technical traits and characteristics. Dispensing the wrong lubricant to equipment can damage it, which is why it’s so important that the containers used for storage and handling are clearly labeled. It means using easy-to-read labels on all the lubricant containers, including drums and bulk tanks, S&R (Sump and Return) containers, pails, buckets, and totes. Choosing labels that can withstand abrasion, solvents, heat, and other factors encountered in an industrial environment is also crucial.

It’s also a good idea to keep track of the turnaround time for your lubricant supplier so you can plan and select optimal storage volumes for your facility based on their typical delivery times. It helps ensure you always have enough lubricant and can always have it on hand for equipment maintenance. It can also reduce unnecessary expenses from purchasing a new container of lubricant due to insufficient storage capacity.

Keeping the Containers Dry

Lubricant containers should be kept indoors or sheltered from precipitation and other environmental factors that can degrade the products. They should also be sheltered from the direct sun and heat sources as they can cause degradation in some cases. Wild temperature fluctuations can also contaminate lubricants. They can lead to the containers “breathing,” with air moving in and out of them to equalize the temperatures, which can suck in moisture and other contaminants.

Maintaining the correct lubricant storage and handling processes will help reduce contamination, errors and costly repairs. The lubrication experts at STLE recommend tracking lubricant use and consumption in the plant to determine how much of each product is left over and when it’s time to purchase new ones. It can help ensure that the lubricants will be used in their proper timelines, according to OEM guidelines. Using the FIFO (First-In, First-Out) methodology will also help avoid accidental storage limits being exceeded.

Keeping the Containers Clean

Using the right storage and handling methods helps prevent the deterioration and contamination of lubricants. It enables them to provide their intended levels of performance. However, lubricants can be subject to many factors affecting their effectiveness, including contaminated containers and mixing incompatible and expired lubricants. A well-designed lubricant storage room should be located away from shipping and receiving areas, as lubricants are susceptible to contamination in transit. Ideally, the lubricant storage area should be indoors. If this is not possible, a facility should keep the storage area sheltered to protect the containers from outdoor weather and debris that can degrade lubricants.

When it is time to transfer lubricants into smaller containers, they must be cleaned. It reduces cross-contamination of lubricants that can occur in the process and also reduces the risk of spills, worker injury and waste. The lubricant storage room should have storage cabinets, lockers and tank stands to facilitate these transfers.