How to develop a slick oil program for your fleet

Quick Truck Lube in Napanee, Ont., claims to have the most types of oil on reels, 11, of any facility in Canada.

TORONTO, Ont. — Stocking oil in the shop, preventing cross-contamination and spills (not to mention misfills), can be a challenge. Spills can create hazards and inefficiencies, and misfills can damage equipment if quickly not identified.

Maintenance operations can reduce the risk of all of the above by first consolidating product, whenever possible.

“Consolidating the number of lubricants in stock helps to improve the efficiency of the maintenance process, as it makes lubricant handling simpler, while also contributing to considerable cost savings,” says Ron LeBlanc Sr., senior technical services advisor with Petro-Canada Lubricants.

However, he acknowledged consolidating oil can be difficult in mixed fleets operating diesel and natural gas trucks, or older and newer vehicles.

For fleets or shops storing oil in bulk, LeBlanc says “properly vented tanks with a desiccant breather capable of filtering two micron particles should always be utilized. In some cases, operators should also consider using a filter when filling their bulk tanks, especially for hydraulic or transmission fluids.”

Shops that store different types of oil should paint bulk storage tanks different colors to differentiate, for example, between FA-4 and CK-4 engine oils.

“The easier you can make it for operators, who are under considerable cost and time pressures, the better,” LeBlanc says.

Oil manufacturers themselves, use different colors on packaging to help maintenance providers keep their oils straight.

If storing lubricants outdoors, “drums should be tipped up with the bungs placed horizontally to protect against water entry, with a plastic or metal lid to cover the drum,” advised LeBlankc. “It is also very important to ensure proper labeling of tanks and product containers to avoid the risk of misapplication.”

For outdoor lubricant storage, a containment area is needed to limit the possibility of spills.

When a spill does occur during service, an absorbent floor dry should be used, and then swept up and safely disposed of. There are also oil eating cleanup materials available for use outdoors, when soil remediation isn’t required.

“The ability to clean up spills has drastically improved over time and there are many effective options now available,” said LeBlanc.

Gurjinder Johal, owner of Quick Truck Lube, says bulk storage is always preferable, as deploying oil by reel eliminates practically all spills. It also reduces costs and is more environmentally-friendly, he adds. He claims his company’s recently opened Napanee, Ont., location has more oil on reels than any other facility in Canada.

“With gallons or buckets, there’s always extra costs for the packaging,” Johal says. “The packaging is always expensive, compared to bulk.”
Bulk storage also speeds up service time, something that’s crucial in a quick lube operation. Johal says there continue to be some operators who request gallon or bucket product, thinking its better than bulk oil. That’s just not true, Johal says.

“The reel bulk oil and the gallon and bucket oil is the same,” he says.

Jim Pinder, corporate fleet director with Erb Group, also prefers stocking oil in bulk. Erb has suspended reels in its service shop, and wall-mounted reels in its reefer shop.

“The bulk tanks are in out-of-the-way locations, and product is pumped to reels in the work area,” Pinder explains. The main benefits, he adds, are “It’s a closed system, not being manually transported in containers that could be spilled or contaminated. We can monitor quantity right at the nozzle.”

If a spill does occur, Erb stocks an absorbent material specific to the product being dispensed. It is available throughout the shop, with larger quantities in high-risk areas, Pinder notes. New oil is stored in tanks within a concrete barrier and the remote fill system is equipped with alarms.

“I have seen shop managers buy the absorbent material of the day or week, but not necessarily the best for the product they are using or that may spill,” Pinder adds.


James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 18 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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