Working in the lubricant industry for the past 17 years I have run into the same hurdle when trying to assist clients with return on investment, Cost vs Price. The relationship of cost vs price is an inverse relationship in regards to food grade lubricants. I will use an analogy of food grade lubricants and actual food to demonstrate.
Food Grade lubricants, much like a home prepared meal, are comprised of many ingredient that affect the final product. This final product is affected by the quality of the ingredients, the process in which it is combined, and the care taken to deliver that final product in a clean and sanitary method to the client.
In the workplace, the lubricants are used to protect wear surfaces, reduce friction, and ensure continued production of equipment. At home, your meal carries nutrients to fuel your body and ensure continued longevity and productivity as well. As you begin to supply your equipment, or your body, with only options solely based on price, the value of the ingredients and the effectiveness of those ingredients to support the productivity and longevity are diminished.
The price is lowered and at what cost? Your prep time for PMs is the same whether you use good lubricants or price conscious choices. There’s still the same number of chefs on staff. So you saved some money up front, but now you don’t feel like you are operating at peak performance. Your attempt to keep price down is ultimately costing you productivity. You increase the frequency of relubrication to compensate for poor quality choices. You now need additional staff to service issues of failures and lost time.
In today’s world where production volumes are key to a company’s success, unscheduled downtime is the most costly part of operation. To ensure PMs can be kept on a planned interval, during low production periods, it is essential to select quality lubricants that are specific to the application. By looking into the benefits of implementing a lubrication program comprised of higher quality (and possibly higher priced) product, you may see that operational costs, failure, and lost productivity are actually lowered.
Additionally, the method in which you supply lubricants has a dramatic effect on consumption volumes and benefit. Just like your body, the machine wants to be kept at optimum levels while running to deliver the best performance. Lubricating at tighter intervals with lower volumes ensures adequate protection from failure without over lubrication. This overall reduction in lubricant use also contributes to a lower overall cost.
Ultimately the choice comes down to where the operational costs are consumed and the return on investment. Lower quality lubricants require more frequent lubrication, more physical handling, more physical labor, the increased need for part replacement, the need for more mechanical downtime, possible overtime pay for maintenance personnel, the reduction of finished product, and increased paper trail. With lean manufacturing, it is not a matter of reducing work staff at this point. It is a matter of making wise choices and allowing the existing work staff to be more productive during a normal work week. Please, when making a decision as to which lubricants you will utilize, look past the price sheet and see how you can improve the bottom line.