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He added that pump life is significantly reduced by not filtering. Once all of that is established, a routine audit is very helpful, Galloway said.

Lubrication: Slipping and sliding toward lubrication best practices

It allows you to monitor the process. You need to have some type of auditing system that recovers what your processes are, he said. What Richards stresses is the installation of an automatic lubrication system. Such systems are designed to ensure that the correct amount of lubricant is applied to machinery at the correct intervals, and they remove an element of variability that can result from manual lubrication practices. Incorrect machinery lubrication can cause a variety of problems, Richards said.

Over-lubrication can cause blown seals and big messes, and these scenarios lead to additional problems. Then, as it starts to heat up, who knows where that dirty lubrication flows? Before implementing any kind of lubrication system, manual or automation, Richards and Aman suggested, cost and logistics must be considered. The logistics of a lubrication program present almost as many aspects to consider as does the program itself. Implementing a lube program with older machinery, even a purchase as recent as within five years, can prove challenging, he said.

Machine visibility and access are other factors to consider.

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Monitoring the lubrication program is also a significant aspect, and Richards described a couple of different methods to accomplish it. In a circulating system, users pass lubricant from a large tank through whatever it is that needs lubrication. The used lubricant then returns to the tank, where it is conditioned and sent back through the machinery. Other monitoring systems that measure machine performance, vibration and temperature can also be good indicators to the performance of the lubrication program.

Managing a lubrication program is more than just finding the right oil. It also means managing that oil from delivery to storage to program management. Q: There are new technologies that replace the gallon drums for fluid storage on-site. What are the pros and cons of both types of fluid storage? A : The most common replacement technology for gallon drums in the plant is totes. Plastic totes are available in different sizes and configurations. Their main advantage over gallon drums is they can hold anywhere from 5 to 10 times the amount of fluid. They are self-sufficient, with their own pumps, filters and valves, and can be returned to the supplier or exchanged for another tote of similar size.


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They can be skid-mounted or placed on rollers for easy movement within the plant, and the fluid lasts for a long time before re-ordering. Their disadvantage is their physical size, which in smaller plants can limit their movement within the plant.


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They are also dedicated for one particular fluid, so no commingling with another fluid can take place. Q: One issue for plant managers is to squeeze all the product out of a storage unit of any size or configuration. This is especially true today with any petroleum-based product. What are some best practices or tips in this area? A : Segregate petroleum products by type. For example, anti-wear hydraulic oils, gear oils and circulating oils of different viscosity grades and container size can be consolidated into one or two products using totes or bulk tanks.

Greases can be ordered in lb pails, lb kegs or totes for use in centralized lube systems. Coolants and chemicals can also be stored in similar size containers. Q: What are some of the issues customers come to you with, and what are some of the solutions you recommend? A : Most of the issues we address are lubricant-related and not package or container related, such as product recommendation for a specific application, cross-referencing to competitive products, and assisting with Lube Surveys at the plant. Q: Do synthetic products present any special challenges in fluid handling?

Hospital quality cleanliness is the best protection against introduced contamination. The storage room must be spotless. Transfer and drainage equipment must be as clean as restaurant knives and forks. The lubricant containers, lids and seal tops must be dinner plate finish.

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Keep the lubricant covered. Absolutely no dirty hands and dirty tools with clean lubricant or when touching bearings!

Clean the lube point nipple on the machine spotless before inserting more clean lubricant. If necessary start your lubricant store over again! Get everyone together and explain the life-and-death requirements for clean oil and grease. Research and write lubricant storage and handling procedures and train everyone in them.

Lubrication Management - Best Practices vs Poor Practices

Make your supervisors responsible for cleanliness of the store and the use of the procedures. The job of a lubricant is to keep metal surfaces apart. If the lube layer thins because of the presence of moisture the surface roughness projections from the metal surfaces will smash together and rip each other to pieces. This will introduce solids contamination and make the lube film hot. The lube film becomes filled with solid metal particles, the heat thins it further and the metal shearing gets worse. The metal surfaces can even weld together from the heat caused by the friction.

Moisture must never be allowed into a bearing. Keep it clean and dry! Totally ban hosing down and compressed air blow down procedures. Replace them with brush down and wipe cloths. To win people over to the change, trial it on the machine with the worst failure record after it has been overhauled. Record how long it lasts before the next bearing failure and compare it to the old failure history. The right lube viscosity at the operating temperature for the load and shaft speed is a must! Only clean lube with the correct specification for the bearing at operating conditions is acceptable.

When the bearing lube deteriorates, get rid of it and replace it with fresh, or clean it up. Keep process chemicals out!

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If you are not sure whether it should continue in service, get rid of it or clean it up. The cost of doing either is a lot less than the cost of a breakdown. Do everything necessary to keep moisture, process chemicals, dirt and dust from getting into the lubricant. Some options are to add more seals, change styles of seal, flush with grease using automatic dispensers, put positive air pressure in the seal area. Bearings and shafts are designed to run perfectly true to their axis. The first thing a designer does when designing a machine part is to draw the centerline of the shaft and bearings.

Then she draws in the shaft and the bearings. In doing that, she has assumed perfect alignment!