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The Importance Of Lubrication For Machine Reliability

To ensure optimum lubrication, it is important to use the right type and quality of lubricant.

Despite the fact that correct lubrication is one of the most crucial aspects of a reliability programme for rotating equipment, lubrication is often perceived as a lowly job that doesn’t require much experience or skill.

Lubrication-related failures are probably the most preventable type of all failures of rotating machinery, yet it’s an area of industry that isn’t always allocated the appropriate level of attention.

Machine reliability relies on the right methods of lubrication, the right quantities and formulations of lubrication and the appropriate application procedures and intervals – and a vigilant machinery operator will be able to maximise the performance and the operating life of the equipment by adhering to a well-planned and appropriate maintenance programme.

Most people believe that lubrication is only important because it makes the parts ‘slippery’.  In reality, lubricants are substances which play a major role in bearing and machinery function and longevity by:

  • Reducing wear of moving parts
  • Reducing friction between rotating parts and stationery ones
  • Absorbing shock
  • Reducing operating temperatures
  • Minimising corrosion of metal surfaces
  • Keeping contaminants out of the system
  • Sealing and protecting components

The incorrect choice and application of lubricants is said to account for around 40% of all machine failures, and so lubrication procedures are a critical factor in maximizing your equipment’s reliability.

To ensure optimum lubrication, it is important to use the right type and quality of lubricant, in the right amounts, at the right place and at the right time.    Once lubrication has been applied, the equipment and the lubricant should be tested to see if:

  • The correct formulation of lubricant was used for the application
  • Whether the lubricant solved – or merely masked – the problem
  • Whether the amount of lubrication applied was correct

The need for frequent lubrication may well be a symptom of underlying machinery damage (such as wear or damage to bearings, shafts or seals) so the solution isn’t simply to lubricate to stop vibration or excessive noise.  In fact, too much lubrication can be just as detrimental as too little lubrication. Under lubrication can cause bearings to wear out before their time, whereas over-lubrication can lead to catastrophic results to the bearings or long-term damage to motor coils and windings.

It is critical to follow the manufacturers’ recommendations and use the right type and quantities of lubricant with the appropriate frequency of application that is best suited to the machinery’s optimal functioning.

An optimal lubrication programme requires vigilance, skill and experience from the operator and should include thorough checking and testing procedures using quality equipment.  Ultrasound technology has advanced significantly over the years and is ideally suited for testing for lubrication flaws and condition-monitoring of bearings.

Ultrasound technology will not only improve machine reliability and help a production line run more smoothly, the big picture is that it can help to decrease the cost of production and the cost of maintenance, enhance safety and improve quality control.  The key focus should be on finding the best technology that meets organisational needs and making sure that it delivers both financial and operational benefits.

Best practice lubrication regimes will ensure world-class machinery reliability, so it’s worth talking to an experienced supplier of technical equipment to ensure your testing and inspection procedures are up to the task.

Nexxis will customise and implement appropriate and cost-effective testing and inspection solutions that meet your financial and operational goals.  Our flexible, solutions-driven approach has helped organisations across all industries around Australia make smarter and more profitable business decisions and you can benefit from a value-driven partnership with this leading-edge technical partner by contacting us today.

 

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