Shop Cleanliness and Organization: A Step in the Right Direction

Authored by: Allan Zieser, STLE, CLS

Over the years, the Ottsen team and I have visited many plants and facilities. One of the most common problems we find is poor lubricant management and organization. Cleaning up your shop and organizing your lubricants is one of the easiest ways to keep your machines running longer.  Let’s take a moment to review some of the things that can help keep your lubricants clean and organized.

Lubricant Chart

Make a chart of where you are storing your lubricants, and place copies where everyone can see them. You should include information like the full name of the product, the viscosity, and where it is being used. The more specific you are, the easier it will be for your personnel to find the correct lubricant for the job at hand. A lubricant chart can also help with inventory management by preventing people from filling equipment with the incorrect lubricants.


Product Life Chart


The attached chart will also help keep you from ordering too much lubricant. Lubricants, like other products you purchase, have a definite shelf life. This shelf life can vary from one to eight (8) years for gear oils and even longer on some lubricants and coolants. Review this chart regularly, until you are confident that you and your personnel have a good understanding of product shelf life.

Lubricants and coolants often contain elements that are solids, ground to a fine tolerance. Over time, these solid additives will fall out and sink to the bottom of the container. Once these additives fall out, they are impossible to mix back into the products.  Those expired products must be disposed of before they are placed into a piece of equipment and cause permanent damage to your equipment.

Order the Amount of Lubricant You Will Use

Watching the quantities of lubricants that you're ordering from your lubricant supplier goes hand-in-hand with using the lubricant chart. If you only use twenty gallons of a lubricant per year, then purchase it in smaller containers to avoid keeping lubricants that you will not be able to use before they expire.

While we are on the topic of ordering and receiving lubricants, be sure to date your containers with the date you received them. It is also vital to rotate your stock to prevent lubricant from becoming forgotten on the back of a shelf.

Dispose of outdated and no longer needed products

Keeping un-needed lubricants around the shop is just asking for problems. Dispose of all lubricants that are no longer needed or out of date to avoid costly mistakes with your equipment.


Following these rules and maintaining a clean and orderly oil room provides a safer work environment for your employees and allows them to maintain your equipment at a higher level.  For more tips, visit or contact your Ottsen salesperson for more information.