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5 Common Lubrication Problems and How to Fix Them (Part 2)

Jennie McRae - Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Happy Tuesday, everyone! We are back with the second half of our blog from last week. If you are new and want to catch up before you delve into this blog, check out last week's blog post here.

Here is the rest of the list West Cash wrote about at Machinery Lubrication Magazine:

3. Overgreasing

Most plants I visit do not recognize that grease guns are precision instruments. They also fail to see the problems that can be caused by the misuse of grease guns. Overgreasing is a very common problem and can result in higher operating temperatures, premature bearing failure, and an increased risk of contaminant ingression.

Bearings require a set volume of grease to be properly lubricated. A popular formula used to determine the volume of grease needed is the outside diameter (in inches) multiplied by the width (in inches) multiplied by 0.114. This will provide the volume of grease in ounces that the bearing requires.

Once you have calculated the volume of grease for the bearing, you need to know how much grease the grease gun is dispelling per stroke. To do this, simply pump 10 shots of grease onto a plate and weigh it on a digital scale. Next, divide the weight of the grease by 10. This will give you the amount per stroke of output. Remember, certain grease guns can product pressures up to 15,000 psi and can cause numerous problems if not properly managed.

The Fix?

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. The best way to counteract this problem is to standardize with a singe type of grease gun so the output will be similar for each one. Grease guns should also be dedicated to a single type of grease and checked at least once a year.

If possible, bearings should be outfitted with grease purge fittings that allow excess grease to be expelled without compromising the integrity of the seal. In addition, all professionals who operate a grease gun should be trained on their operation and the proper way to regrease a bearing.

4. Lack of a Labeling System

Labeling is a key part of any world-class lube program. Not only does it reduce the chance for cross-contamination by minimizing confusion as to which lubricants go where, it also allows individuals who may not be as familiar with the lube program to top-up with the correct oil or grease.

The Fix?

Developing a labeling scheme takes time, but when done properly, it can provide a variety of information not only about the lubricant, but also about lubrication intervals as well. The best label design incorporates a color/shape scheme for each lubricant used. This offers a quick visual reference as to which lubricant is inside the machine. Noria has developed the Lubricant Identification System, which includes all basic information for a machine type such as base oil, application, and viscosity. As mentioned previously, once a labeling system has been established, that labels should be applied to all lubricant storage containers and application devices.

5. Use of OEM Breathers and Dust Caps

Most OEM accessories like breathers do little to restrict the ingression of tiny particles into oil and critical spaces, which can damage machine surfaces. Some of these breathers are simply a cap filled with steel wool or a mesh screen that serves as a block for larger particles. Considering the lubricant film in a journal bearing is approx. 5 to 10 microns, any particles of this size contaminating the oil will greatly increase the likelihood of wear and subsequent machine failure. These tolerance-sized particles do the greatest damage and have the highest probability of causing machine wear.

Not only do many OEM breathers allow particles into the oil, they also do nothing to restrict moisture from entering the oil. Oil is hygroscopic, which means it absorbs moisture from ambient air. In areas with high humidity or steam, moisture will pass through these types of breathers and be absorbed into the oil, casing rust, increased oxidation and hydrolysis rates, and a higher corrosive potential of acids formed by oxidation and hydrolysis.

The fix?

OEM breathers should be replaced with higher quality versions to restrict particulate and moisture ingression. With several breather manufacturers on the market, the key is to get the breather that is right for your particular environment and operating conditions. In very dry environments, a spin-on particulate filter may work fine provided that ambient humidity is low. In more moist environments, a hybrid-style breather may be the best choice. This type of breather employs a particulate filter to trap hard particles followed by a desiccating phase to strip moisture from the incoming air. All of these breathers can be threaded into the current breather port for quick and easy installation.

For questions regarding the state of your industrial plant, please do not hesitate to call one of our nationally-certified DFLT-S account managers at 318-388-2602.


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