Computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software was specially created to schedule and record operations. This includes planned or preventive maintenance schedules that are associated with the equipment and assets of a facility. A CMMS allows plant operators to generate work orders and put together work schedules that allow staff to carry out planned and periodic maintenance on equipment as needed.

The purpose of implementing a CMMS system is to leverage technology to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of a facility’s repair, maintenance and operation activities. It is important to ensure that preventive activities are a scheduled part of routine workflow. Lubrication-related activities that include the taking of oil samples, greasing motor bearings and the like, should be part of a routine winter maintenance program.

Managing lubrication

When it comes to managing lubrication, ensure that it is done at the right time and that the lubricant selected maintains the specified cleanliness and chemical and physical requirements. To create a lubrication program, start by gathering or locating all the specific information about each piece of equipment, such as maintenance procedures.

An effective lubrication program will yield significant benefits in plant and equipment reliability. Review industry best practices to identify any gaps and note weaknesses and strengths. Particular areas to review are:

  • Procurement, consolidation and standards
  • How to store handle and dispose of lubricants
  • Lubrication practices as well as relubrication
  • Lubricant contamination control
  • Methods of sampling and collection
  • An analysis program for lubricants
  • Safety practices
  • Guidelines, procedures and training
  • Program management
  • Program metrics or goals

CMMS maintenance software can keep track of these metrics and send reminders whenever necessary, such as when it is time to replenish the supply or lubricate equipment. This software tells operators which equipment has been lubricated, where it is located, who did it and when it is due for relubrication.

Selecting a lubricant

When it comes to selection, look for lubricant specific to the equipment on which it will be used. This act in itself has the potential to extend the life of not only the lubricant, but also the piece of equipment on which it will be used. This, after all, is the goal of any successful lubrication program.

Start by looking at the guidelines offered by the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Combine the OEM guidelines with information about the current operating conditions of the equipment, the environment in which it operates, reliability requirements, the maintenance strategies that have been chosen for it, equipment criticality and, of course, the historical information.

If effectively used, CMMS can provide this information because it can be used to keep track of all the repair and maintenance information on each piece of equipment. A simple, comprehensive report from the CMMS or Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) system can help technicians select the right lubricants. Modern machines operate under heavier loads and at higher speeds so lubrication is essential. It is part of the equipment’s design principle.

What if maintenance has not been performed?

Many times equipment like pumps fail because the sleeves, seals and packings are worn out — the most common reason for failure. The second reason is bearing failure. Purchasing a bearing is costly and replacing it can be an involved, time-consuming process, which is why 20 percent of all bearings are handled or installed improperly.

More than two-thirds of bearings on pumps fail because of poor operating conditions. When the manufacturer installs a pump bearing, it is made to be oversized and can survive for many years even in the poorest operating conditions as long as it has been installed properly and is properly lubricated. Most bearings do not fail for fatigue but because the lubricant used on them is contaminated.

The only time a bearing should not be lubricated is when greasing has not been done for more than two or three years. The reason is that old grease tends to harden and will probably prevent the even distribution of lubrication over the bearing. If this happens, new grease may be forced to go through a seal, which could then damage the bearing shield. If maintenance has been routine, lubricating the bearing will add to its life expectancy.

Track lubrication with CMMS

Unfortunately, lubrication is often viewed as a separate task, making it seem like an extra job instead of being fully integrated into the routine maintenance program. Having an effective lubrication program has benefits that overreach the reliability of equipment, the gains of plant availability and even the cost reduction expected. With a solid lubrication program, the effectiveness of the entire business can be increased by maintaining environmental integrity, having better quality products, managing and improving risk-safety, improving customer service as well as energy efficiency.

To implement such a lubrication program, choose the best-available CMMS software. It will help fit lubrication activities into the maintenance worker’s routine processes and work flow.

It is important to capture information about lubrication activities and enter it into a CMMS for several reasons:

  • Better organization — CMMS programs will help with scheduling routine tasks including lubricating the equipment on-site. It helps schedule the right number of workers for assignments and helps pace activities properly, giving priority to more important matters. You will know what maintenance needs to be done on which piece of equipment and when, and you can schedule workers for maximum productivity.
  • Better record keeping — Many plants do not have proper records of the work that has been done on equipment. When a machine breaks down, no one can tell when it was maintained last or what kind of maintenance was done. An EAM tracks all the repairs and maintenance work performed on the equipment to provide a proper historical view of the machine.
  • Better-maintained equipment — Machines run better for longer when they have been well-maintained. In a facility with many assets, managing them can be difficult unless the appropriate technology is leveraged. CMMS and its software is the helper that can ensure equipment is maintained properly all the time.


Lindsey Walker is the marketing manager for NEXGEN Asset Management. She writes about asset management, geographic information systems, software implementation, training curriculum development and similar topics.