What are the Best Practices for Diesel Engine Reliability?
Lubrication practices directly effect diesel engine reliability and performance. These "best practices" offer fleet managers and drivers a structured approach to maintaining diesel engines.
- Evaluate Current Practices — Take a detailed look at engine maintenance practices. Identify what the organization is doing right, or wrong, and set benchmarks from which to evaluate future efforts. Such an audit will consider items ranging from having a supply of lubricants on hand to keeping meticulous maintenance records.
- Maintenance Planning — Just as maintenance records are helpful, so too is a written plan for maintenance tasks, such as oil changes, analyses, etc. Make sure that scheduled lube maintenance work orders specify the right lubricant and the quantity for each engine serviced. For larger fleets, software can help organize this task; for smaller operations, a chart can suffice.
- Labeling — Avoid headaches by labeling and identifying the lubricants to use during maintenance. The inadvertent mixing of lubricants can be a costly mistake. The worst case scenario is the mixing of incompatible oils and not catching the mistake before the engine returns to service.
- Cleanliness — Dirty engine lubricants cause excess engine wear and premature component failure. Lubricants should be kept in tightly sealed containers to prevent the intrusion of moisture or particulates as they are drawn down. The transfer of lubricant from its sealed container to the vehicle should be done so as not to expose the lubricant to the weather or other sources of contamination.
- Careful In-Shop Dispensing — Any transfer of engine lubricants can lead to the introduction of contaminants to the fluid. Use only clean containers to transfer fluid from its reservoir to your engine. Ideally, these are part of a closed and clean system of dispensing.
- Lubrication Tools — Grease maintenance to other parts of the rig is often concurrent with the engine lubrication process. In such situations, different greases are used, so greases are ideally tracked through color-coding. Post the color code prominently at the lube station and make sure everything is clearly labeled.
- Analyze Your Oil — Oil analysis is an important tool that can reveal much about engines, how they are running and potential trouble spots. Also, an analysis of the oil will indicate if the oil is fit for additional use or should be changed.
- Environmental Control — today's maintenance programs should include a zero-spill contamination policy.
- Awareness — People engaged in maintenance should be aware of their responsibilities, and the consequences of not following procedures. They should understand the lubes they are working with, why they were chosen, and be trained in safe maintenance practices.
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