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The Value of Lubrication Education

March 22, 2018

The value of lubrication education

With the threat of the skill gap in manufacturing looming over everyone this idea is key. From maintenance to production this trend continues. There will be casualties, and mistakes will be made. The true value of lubrication education is- learning from mistakes, preventing more, and improving practices.

Training is a required in any field, why should maintenance be any different? Why would we assume that complex industrial equipment can be cared for with "common sense?" The same kind of "common sense" which causes misunderstandings between two sensible people. Education provides a common foundation between people, gets them on the same page. It makes "common sense" a common ground if well implemented. It can turn a foreign concept into a familiar term.

Take for example the Pareto principle. The concept is simple- 80% of effects are caused by 20% of issues. In maintenance this means that 80% of machine failures are caused by 20% of conditions. We use this principle to understand that most problems are not caused by the big things. Everyone has a different idea of what "common sense" is, but the Pareto principle is clear. There is no chance for miscommunication because of this clarity.

Here is another example of "common sense" not being a good measure of maintenance. A person might change their oil every 3 months, and they might do this because it's commonly advertised. What if they drive two thousand miles week though? The engine would quickly deteriorate under the extra strain. If this person's car fails, you'd hope they learn from their mistake.

If the same person learned how to maintain their car under the condition of two thousand miles driven per week that engine would last. That person demonstrated that they are willing to prevent further mistakes.

The value of education and training extends beyond communication and prevention, into improvement. When a base of knowledge is established the next step is the most important- learning how to use it.

In our own plant we were recently able to put some of our own training into practice. This came in the form of moving a reservoir tank over a few inches. Before we moved the tank, its sampling port was difficult to access. Whenever we attempted to take a sample half of the work was getting into a position where we could take the oil out. Seth asked why the tank had to be in that position. No one had an answer to the question besides- "it belongs there." We took some measurements and in less than half an hour had it moved. Now, instead of taking an hour to take sample, it takes no more than ten minutes. This small improvement will save us hours of work, in turn giving us more time to focus on improving other practices.

Ultimately, the value of education will always lie in practical improvement. We're just getting started but already we've seen returns from our own training programs. Equipping people to be better at maintenance will lead to better performance from the both them and the machines.