Lubricant ID Tags: The Pros and Cons

Are your bearings failing? If so, the lubricant you’re using might be the culprit. Whether you use the original equipment manufacturer’s (OEM) lubricant recommendation or an alternative (though, OEM is recommended for optimal performance), an incorrect application can lead to costly failures. Well you’re in luck because a simple solution you are likely familiar with already exists! Lubricant ID tags tell you which machines require which lubricants based on a coding system. These codes can be in the form of colors, shapes, or any other identifier that lets you determine the appropriate lubricants on your maintenance routes. Lubricant ID systems are underutilized in many facilities. There are a handful of pros and cons to consider.


  • Ensures correct lubrication is used
  • Minimizes the risk of cross contamination caused by multiple lubricants
  • Prolonged machine life

Similar to any organizational system, there are drawbacks to lubrication IDs if they are not utilized or managed correctly:


  • Possibility of tags being labeled incorrectly
  • Can get too dirty to read or accidentally knocked off
  • Ineffective if not kept up to date with possible supplier changes

Fortunately the effects of the cons are preventable and if maintained properly, lubricant ID’s can be a valuable asset to maintenance teams. Facilities can ID lubricants using coding systems involving colors and shapes. Descriptions should be as detailed as possible and the chart should accessible to maintenance teams wherever necessary.

See the following table for an example:


Important Considerations

Knowing what lubricant to use on your bearings is only so valuable if you don’t know when to apply it. Maintenance teams must have a solution in place that lets them determine when lubrication is needed. Vibration sensors, the Bearing Defender, ultrasonic tools, or a mechanic’s stethoscope are all excellent options for tracking when lubrication is needed. We teach this in our RPM class. Lastly, make sure you include the recommended amount of lubrication on each ID tag. Too much can cause overheating, and too little leads to corrosion.

Does your facility use lubricant ID systems? Connect with us to learn more.

by Acoem contributor | September 6, 2022
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