The proper handling, storing and dispensing of industrial lubricants is vital in helping to protect plant personnel against health hazards and minimize the risk of environmental contamination. Among the common problems plant managers and maintenance professionals encounter when dealing with high volumes of lubricants and/or greases is product mislabeling and storing products in areas with extreme temperatures.
To treat your oils and greases with the care and respect they deserve—and require—keep the following points in mind:
The handling of lubricants includes all operations involved in the receipt of supplies of lubricants by a facility and the transfer of those lubricants to in-plant storage. The type of handling involved depends on how the lubricants are received—either in packages or in bulk.
All shipments of oils, greases and associated petroleum products in containers up to and including 55-gal. (U.S.) oil drums and 400-lb. grease drums are considered packaged products.
The term “bulk” in this context refers not only to deliveries in tank cars, tank trucks, tank wagons and special grease transporters, but also to deliveries in any container substantially larger than a conventional 55-gal. oil drum or 400-lb. grease drum. Prior to the receipt of bulk deliveries, certain precautions must be taken:
The proper storage of lubricants calls for adherence to several key guidelines:
As discussed in the section on handling, the guideline related to the storing of lubricants depends on how the lubricants are received—either in packages or in bulk.
Packaged lubricants can be stored outdoors, in a warehouse or in an oil house. In all cases, outdoor storage should be avoided whenever possible. Some potential hazards of outdoor storage include contamination by water, dirt or rust, or changes to the physical properties of the lubricants resulting from extreme temperatures (be they hot or cold).
Warehouse storage is desirable when the oil house lacks the space needed to stock the complete inventory that is required. In a warehouse, racks and shelving can be used to provide adequate protection for all containers and the aisle space should be adequate for maneuvering whatever type of mechanical handling equipment is used. The “first in, first out” procedure should be maintained, and the location should be considered on the basis of receiving and
Keep in mind that a well-arranged, properly constructed and conveniently located oil house is the best storage area when trying to avoid contamination of lubricants.
While bulk storing of lubricants offers considerable eco-nomic and operating advantages, the full benefit of such an approach will be realized only when the complete system is properly planned and installed. To avoid the need for cleanup and/or the risk of contamination, always remember that tanks and bins should be used for only one product. Other factors to consider when using bulk storage include:
In addition to choosing the right location for storage, it is important to remember that storage tanks should be equipped with vents to allow breathing during filling and emptying. The vents also should be equipped with filters to keep out dust, moisture and other contaminants.
Dispensing of a lubricant includes its withdrawal from the oil house or other storage location and its transfer to the point of use, as well as the application of the product at the point of use.
A little TLC goes a long way. By observing these precautions and procedures in the handling, storing and dispensing of lubricants, greases and associated petroleum products, you can help preserve their integrity, minimize the risk of potential personnel injuries and achieve significant economic and operating benefits. LMT
Travis Lail is an industrial lubrication specialist with ExxonMobil Lubricants & Specialties. To learn more about handling, storage and dispensing of oils and greases, visit: mobilindustrial.com