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Smart partnerships: Unlocking lubrication opportunities

29 August 2018

A report by Shell Lubricants – 'Unlocking the Hidden Potential of Manufacturing' – reveals that, while in the UK, roughly two-thirds (65%) of manufacturing companies believe in the importance of lubrication, only 32% report taking effective measures in the end-to-end lubrication process. Jan-Hendrik Bruns, Shell Lubricants regional technical expert – general manufacturing – considers the issue

To stay competitive, operators in the manufacturing industry strive to increase productivity and reduce equipment downtime in order to meet deadlines; all the while keeping maintaining product quality as a priority. Many are already applying Total cost of Ownership (TCO) assessments to help accomplish this but the value of lubrication within a maintenance strategy is often underestimated, resulting in missed savings opportunities. 

Shell Lubricants' report provides evidence that there is a gap between intention and action. There are several ways TCO savings can be achieved through effective lubrication, so it is important that it is seen as a priority for operators to make the most of this. 

However, it seems a knowledge gap is also preventing effective lubrication management. Selecting high quality lubricants and managing them effectively has been identified as a source for productivity and cost savings yet, companies are unsure of the best way to approach this. 

One way to do this is by pooling expertise and collaborating with external suppliers. Tapping into the knowledge of suppliers can help companies supplement their own resources to help tackle many equipment maintenance issues. While manufacturing companies recognise that suppliers could play a role in helping lower TCO, the value of this external contribution is clearly underrated, as 73% state that they would be unwilling to invest budget in utilising supplier lubricant management expertise because they potentially believe that it is too time consuming to do so (75%). 

It’s important that manufacturing companies recognise that suppliers can offer support and help identify potential areas for savings. While up-front cost may seem off-putting, the benefits optimising lubrication can bring may provide significant savings in the longer term. Simple fixes for equipment maintenance may not cost much, but the revenue losses due to equipment failures can run into the millions of pounds when factoring in maintenance costs, replacement parts, and lost revenue from equipment downtime. There can also be longer term impacts if failures limit a manufacturer’s ability to meet customer commitments. This is why it is important for companies to think about maximising system efficiency through holistic, end-to-end lubrication management.

Future challenges

To respond to the industry’s needs and meet future challenges, Shell Lubricants has one of the world’s largest teams of technical lubricants experts available to support manufacturing companies in better understanding equipment and lubrication management, resulting from years of working for a manufacturing company or OEM. Tapping into this source of knowledge can help businesses improve equipment productivity and reduce maintenance costs. 

Shell Lubricants also continually works to develop innovative products and services to help reduce costs and improve equipment efficiency. An example of such a service is Shell LubeChat. Shell Lubricants recently introduced Shell LubeChat, the first artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbot tool for B2B lubricants customers in the UK. Shell LubeChat is an online chat robot that is designed to provide users with easy, real-time access to product support, technical services and lubricants data. Designed to help optimise efficiency, it can help solve day-to-day challenges like quickly finding information about effective equipment lubrication. 

By leveraging new technologies and data, Shell’s lubrication services can help reduce TCO and deliver business value for manufacturing companies by providing advice to reduce downtime and allow for preventative maintenance.

For more information and expert advice on how UK manufacturers can optimise operations when it comes to maintenance, you can download a series of whitepapers at http://www.shell.co.uk/manufacturing

 
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