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Common Lubrication Problems And How To Fix Them

Machines with moving parts require consistent application of industrial lubricants to keep them in good working conditions. One of the essential assets of condition monitoring is lubrication.

From food-processing plants and refineries to power plants and manufacturing facilities, several recurring lubrication problems seem to be widespread across all industries. The following are some of the common lubrication problems and their solutions.

Lack Of Procedures

A lubrication program is made great because of the expert and technicians who do the work. The retirement of expert technicians is the main problem. Experienced people, when they retire, take with them the knowledge and years of experience. In many manufacturing plants, the position of lube-tech is held by a single person for years. These highly experienced technicians are the master of their domains, and they understand every sight and sound of their machines.

So when these experienced technicians retire, they take with them the vast knowledge and a great deal of personal experience, which in the long run became the biggest concern in the lubrication industry.

It is important that this knowledge and understanding is passed down to the next generation of professionals. However, usually, all of this knowledge is not passed down, and that results in problems in the lubrication program.

The best method for creating procedures is through thorough documentation of each task performed in the lubrication program. If the procedures are documented, then they can help the next generation to understand the proper way a task should be performed. You can find countless books and articles on ways to write the best procedures. Once documented, these procedures must be implemented in true spirit.

The procedures should not be only about the application of lubricants, but they should also include topics like how lubricants are handled in storage, disposed of after use, and even decontaminated upon arrival.

Proper documentation by the experienced staff will make procedures that will help the next generations after them. The new lot will be able to learn from the experienced staff, and this will ensure that mistakes are avoided in the lubrication program.

Over-greasing

Most problems are created due to the misuse of grease guns. It is important to recognize that grease guns are precision instruments. Most people in the manufacturing unit are taught to grease the bearing by simply attaching the grease gun and greasing the bearing until the grease starts to purge from somewhere. This method might be effective for some machines and hinge pins where purging grease won't cause any damage. However, it should not be employed in all the machines because it causes over greasing.

Over-greasing is a very common problem and can result in higher operating temperatures, premature bearing failure, and an increased risk of contaminant ingression. A set volume of grease is required for proper bearing lubrication. You can measure the volume of grease by multiplying the outside diameter with the width and then multiplying it with 0.114. This will give you the volume of grease in ounces required by the bearing.

After you have calculated the volume of the grease for the bearing, you will need to know how much grease is dispelling per stroke by the grease gun. To calculate this, pump ten shots of grease guns on a plate, weigh it on a digital scale and divide the scale’s weight by 10.  This will give you the amount per stroke. 

While calculating the regrease requirements for all bearings onsite and determining the output of grease guns are a great place to start, there are other concerns that must be addressed as well. For instance, the output of grease can vary between guns.

Using a single type of grease gun is the best way to solve this problem. Using a standardized grease gun will give you the same output every time. Also, use only a single type of grease to keep the grease gun functional.

It's also better to have a purge fitting with the bearing that will allow the excess grease to be expelled without compromising the integrity of the seal. And all the professionals who use the grease gun should be well trained and experienced to ensure perfect greasing.

Shortage Of Labeling System

The integral part of any top-notch lubrication program is the labeling. The labeling makes it easy to identify lubricants which reduces the chances of cross-contamination. The use of labels is not limited to merely identifying lubricants; you can barcode lube labels to allow all assets in the plant to be integrated into a central computer. Developing a labeling system is very time-consuming, but if done properly, it can provide information about the lubricants and the lubricant interval.

Labeling the assets is a great way to run a successful lubrication system. A successful lubrication program will label everything from the containers, machines to the grease guns. Anything that touches a lubricant should be labeled and dedicated to a single lubricant to get a successful lubrication result.

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