Storage of Lubricants and Greases

The storage of lubricants and greases is often overlooked by maintenance practitioners. Lubes and greases are filled in either Intermediate Bulk Carriers (IBCs), drums or pails, and they must be protected against the elements in order to ensure optimum performance.

Types of container for oils and greases

A good first step is to store the containers in a cool, dry and covered warehouse. The entry of contamination, such as moisture (water), as well as solid particulates (ex. dust) can be avoided with a good storage area.  If outdoor storage cannot be avoided, it is advised to either place a protective cover on top of the lubricants, or to lay-down the drums on its side, preventing easy entry of contaminants via the bungholes.

Drums on its side (instead of upright)

As for temperatures, 35oC should not be exceeded, as elevated temperatures can cause the separation of the components, to include the sedimentation of the additives. Water-based lubricants, such as those used for metalworking, are even more sensitive to temperature. Direct sunlight is to be avoided for the same reason.

Unstable / separated die-lubricant due to direct sunlight

Ideally, drums and pails should be placed on pallets for organization (identification), and for the easy handling when forklifts or pallet trucks. For stacking, a maximum of three (3) high is recommended for safety purposes.

Place lubricants in pallets

Since (unintentional) oil spills are unavoidable, a containment system is highly recommended to prevent oils from entering water-streams or soil.    Simple catch basins (drip pans) may be placed under the pallets, or alternatively, pallets with basins may be considered.  Some warehouses, on the other hand, utilize trenches that surround the storage area to catch any oils and greases, preventing its egress to the environment.

Catch basins, pallet with basin, trench

Spill kits are also recommended, which should consist of sand, earth or wood chips that may absorb any oils and greases at ground level.

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