Machinery lubrication, machine lubrication, or equipment lubrication is the task of adding lubrication, such as oil, to your machine. It is a key part of every maintenance plan. Furthermore, keeping your assets running smoothly and extending the lifetime of components can only happen if you maintain proper lubrication.
What is the Purpose of Machinery Lubrication?
Oil or lubricant can serve many different purposes depending on the additives. However, there are a few general goals of machinery lubrication. These goals include:
- Reducing friction
- Pulling debris or contaminants away from components
- Decreasing operating temperatures
- Preventing unnecessary wear of components
- Avoiding unplanned downtime by preventing equipment failure
- Lowering the risk of part seizure
- Reducing corrosion
- Absorbing shock by diluting shock or vibration’s impact on parts
Lubrication is essential to any moving parts in a machine, such as rotating parts like gears.
How Does It Work?
First, it’s all about friction. When two parts of your machine move against each other, friction converts that action into heat. Just as rubbing your hands together warms them up, rubbing in your machine turns up the temperature. Machinery lubrication reduces the friction, thereby lowering the impact of friction and reducing the operating temperature of your asset.
How to Implement Machinery Lubrication
There are three important steps to machinery lubrication. First, choose the right lubricant for your assets. Second, the delivery or application of the lubricant. Third, the routine checking and changing of the lubricant.
Choosing the Right Lubricant
Oil and grease are the most common categories of lubricant, but there is a wide range of variations within those categories. Oil may be synthetic or mineral-based, and it comes in a variety of viscosity levels. Similarly, grease is made up of oil and a thickening agent that gives it more texture and thickness. That’s not even counting the assortment of additives for special purposes.
Delivery and Application
Proper machinery lubrication requires a high level of care at every step of the delivery and application of lubricants. How you handle, organize, label, and store your lubricants makes a difference. Extreme storage conditions can lead to contamination of your lubricant. Additionally, poor organization or labeling can result in cross-contamination of lubricants or using the wrong lubricant on an asset.
Many companies with equipment that requires lubrication have several different assets needing lubrication, sometimes in the hundreds. Charting your lubrication routes with lubrication management software will help your technicians immensely. Furthermore, it allows you to group assets using the same lubricant for a more efficient machinery lubrication plan.
Ongoing Monitoring and Maintenance
No preventive maintenance strategy is complete without some kind of ongoing inspection and analysis. Inspections are essential! But, you may also want to consider oil analysis as a necessary addition to your machinery lubrication. It will provide you with the data you need to have visibility into your asset and lubricant’s health.
What Machines Need Lubrication?
Basically, any machinery or equipment with moving parts likely needs lubrication. Rotating or moving parts that come into contact without lubrication will accelerate component wear.
How to Schedule Machinery Lubrication
Ideally, your machinery lubrication is part of a regular preventive maintenance plan. That means it is mapped out and scheduled on a regular basis. You may base this on OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) recommendations, your actual usage, wear patterns, or condition monitoring data. Also, it is important to remember lubrication when installing new equipment or parts. With the many benefits of machinery lubrication, it is worth the investment to optimize your lubrication plan. The return on investment includes savings from avoided downtime, increased production, extended component life, and safer operations, just to name a few.