Storing oils, greases, and other industrial lubricants is a Goldilocks conundrum. You don’t want to store too little and run out. You don't want to store too much and pay more than you should. You want the stored amount to be just right.
But How Do You Figure Out What The Right Amount Is For Your Facility?
First, you need to do some research. How much industrial lubricant does your facility consume in a month, quarter, or year? Whichever time period you chose to evaluate, check more than one time period. You don't want to accidently include an unusually high or low consumption period.
Speaking of high consumption, also check your maintenance records and see what drain intervals are coming up. If your facility expanded production three years ago, then the new machines you purchased are probably all due for extensive service maintenance at the same time. This unusual consumption will not have shown up in your previous research.
Now, you have to decide how much industrial lubricant you want on hand for emergency refills and delivery delays.
Next, find out your vendor's standard delivery time for the types of lubricant you most frequently use. Average delivery can differ from one day to two weeks. Some specialty fluids require even greater lead times. Determine how much lubricant you want on hand to fill the gap between when you order new stock and when it arrives. The faster your vendor can deliver, the less additional drums you'll need.
Finally, add everything up to determine an estimate of what you need to store.
Fitting Storage To Your Space
Coming up with an estimate of lubricant inventory isn't enough. You now have to answer two more questions:
- What type of packaging should you order?
- Do you have the space to store them?
What Type Of Packaging Should You Order?
Industrial lubricants come in any of four packages: pails (5 gallons), drums (55 gallons), totes (330 gallons), or bulk tanks (250 gallons to 25,000 gallons). How much you use, how you dispense them, and the size of your storage facility will all contribute to which type of package you purchase.
Do You Have Space And Proper Conditions To Store Them?
The size of your storage space will help determine not only which package types you order but also how much of them you can store. Make sure your space is clean, dry and inside. Also, keep a steady temperate at a moderate setting. Avoid environments with the following characteristics: dirty, outside, moist, humid, or fluctuating temperatures. A proper storage environment can greatly affect lubricant shelf life.
Uh, Oh. I Need To Store More Totes Than I Have Space.
If this is you, then consider a warehousing agreement with your supplier or local distributor. Many distributors — including Acculube — have programs where they reserve space in their warehouse for your stored pails, tanks, and totes then ship them to you on demand.
I Have Enough Inventory To Manage. Do I Really Have To Manage This?
No, you don't. Again, many distributors — including Acculube — have Never-Run-Dry Stocking Programs that save you the hassle. With stocking programs, your chosen distributor monitors and manages your inventory or consigned inventory on site. They ensure you have enough lubricants on hand to continue work and lessen downtime. Some distributors will even let you only pay for what you use.
Chris Fisk is President of Acculube, a Dayton-Ohio based fluids supplier to American manufacturers and service providers.
The Risks Of Inaccurate Industrial Lubricant Inventory
When You Store Too Much:
You run the risk of not using what you purchased before the shelf life expires. The most likely outcome is the overstocked product becoming damaged or lost. You also run the risk of not rotating this inventory on hand, using newly delivered product versus existing stock.
When You Store Too Little:
You risk not having enough on stock to handle unexpected emergencies. What may have been a simple top off or minimal maintenance turns into a significant time—and money—loss while a machine is down.