Guest post by Paul Llewellyn – LUBRICATION ENGINEERS

If manually greasing a bearing typically means that the bearing will end up being over-greased because more often than not the person doing the greasing pumps new grease in until new grease comes out the other side of the bearing, and over-greasing is as bad as under-greasing, then why don’t more facilities use fully automatic or single point lubricators which can prevent this problem?  Let’s take a look at some of the positives associated with automatic lubrication and SPLs.

Advantages of a Single Point Lubricator (SPL):

  • Reduce work place hazards. Keep employees safe in situations where bearings are cage enclosed and a lock-out/tag-out is required to simply grease a bearing. Instead, remote mount outside of cage. Machine gets greased while in operation. Keep exhaust fans properly lubricated without the risk to personnel (annual greasing instead of monthly). Hard to access bearings can now be properly greased with a remotely mounted SPL that can be easily monitored and changed out (conveyor systems, for example).
  • Precise lubricant delivery. Automatic greasing puts the right amount of grease, in the right place, at the right time, using the correct grease. This means no lube mixing and a reduction in the amount of grease purchased.
  • Improved machine reliability/availability. 50% of all bearing failures are due to lubrication issues. Properly lubricated bearings last longer and increase uptime and throughput. A reliable asset is a safer asset.
  • Man-hour availability. Automatic greasing and SPLs free up personnel so they can do other more productive tasks related to maintenance and reliability-centered maintenance.
  • Automatic lubricators and SPLs work 24/7/365. Once installed and set correctly, these systems are never late, never sick, don’t take vacation and deliver consistent results time after time.
  • Environmental benefits: Automatic systems and SPLs keep the correct amount of grease in the bearing so high moisture areas, dusty and dirty applications, higher temperature assets and other environmental conditions have less of a negative impact.

If you are trying to improve the reliability program at your facility, consider automatic lubrication and Single Point Lubricators as a simple place to start.  You will see immediate benefits with improved bearing life, parts and labor reductions, less unscheduled downtime and increased production and profits.

Learn more about Lubrication Best Practices from Paul Llewellyn at our Rethink Maintenance Training Roadshows

by Ana Maria Delgado, CRL

It can be argued that lubricants are the lifeblood of equipment. It is extremely difficult to assure equipment reliability when lubrication integrity is not maintained. The key is to keep the lubrication system clean, cool and dry.
According to the Arrhenius Rate Rule, every 18-degree (F) increase in oil temperature in operation reduces oil life by half. Excessive lubrication temperatures can lead to additive depletion, oxidation, varnishing, hazards, corrosion, increased frequency of oil changes and more. All of this leads to reduced equipment reliability and increased costs.
Reduced operating temperature is one of the many benefits associated with proper machinery alignment.  This in turn will help you reduce the operational temperature of the lubricants (lifeblood) within your equipment.  Best practice equipment reliability includes proper equipment alignment. Your best practice lubrication efforts should include making sure your equipment is operated within proper alignment tolerances. Doing so will help you maintain the “cool” required to ensure that the lifeblood of your equipment is protected.

by Trent Phillips CRL CMRP - Novelis

Guest post by Brad Loucks,  Mechanical Engineer at Pioneer Engineering
When discussing machine lubrication techniques and associated maintenance tasks with industry personnel, I often hear the same story; “Once a month, we fill it up until it’s full.”  This story can unfold further to reveal that every piece of machinery under such a program receives the same type of lubricant with no considerations made to temperature change, operating conditions, load requirements, and duty cycle.  Technology has come a long way over the past several decades in every corner of the modern world and machine lubrication and oil analysis is no exception to this evolution.  It has been discovered that choosing the right lubricant for the application significantly prolongs machine life and maintains the overall health of rotating equipment in use today.
To further illustrate this point, just consider how much thought is given to the type of oil used in your car.  You won’t find a can of automobile oil in the store that is simply labeled, “Oil”.  Instead, you will find several types of oil that are specifically designed to resist large viscosity changes with changing temperature.  The ability to resist significant viscosity change is depicted using the nomenclature, “10W-30”, or “5W-40”, etc.  A common misconception is that the “W” stands for weight.  Instead, the “W” stands for “winter”, and the number that precedes it represents the oil’s ability to resist thickening when the temperature is 0° Fahrenheit.  Similarly, the second number represents the oil’s ability to resist thinning in an environment where the temperature is 100° Fahrenheit.
As you can see, operating environment and temperature play a big role in choosing the right lubrication to extend the life of an automobile engine.  In an industrial setting, machine lubrication plays an even larger role with proportional consequences and benefits to the amount of thought and detail given to choosing the right lubrication.
Recent advancements in technology now provide us with addition tools to collect and analyze oil samples in rotating machinery.  In doing so, maintenance technicians are able to better understand the present health of their equipment as well as make determinations for further maintenance tasks to be performed.  The difference between this story and the “Once a month, we fill it up until it’s full” story, is that we now have the ability to schedule maintenance tasks based on condition, instead of relying solely on a time trigger.  A proper machine lubrication program enables us to recognize the root causes of machinery failure due to improper lubrication.  A successful lubrication program also incorporates methods in identifying lubricant contamination and implements the best practices in lubricant storage, handling, and dispensing.  By introducing these condition-based methods of scheduling maintenance tasks, machinery health is better managed, saving time and money.

by Ana Maria Delgado, CRL

Lubrication Tips and Reminders

Guest post by Kasey McClain,  Mechanical Engineer at Pioneer Engineering
Everyone knows that lubrication is crucial to the life of a bearing. Two common types of bearing lubrication are grease and oil.  I commonly see oil bath lubrication and oil mist along with grease lubrication.  One of the biggest problems that I have encountered with greased bearings is over greasing.  When installing a new bearing assembly, it is important to note whether the bearings are pre-greased by the manufacturer.  Over greasing will not allow the heat to dissipate from the bearing which will cause the bearing to expand and cause a tolerance stack up which may then show bearing defects.  This may also cause an existing defect to progress, decreasing the life of the bearing.  With an oil bath lubrication system, too much oil can be just as detrimental as too little oil.  With too little oil, the slinger ring, or whichever component carries the oil, will not be submerged in the oil and will not be able to lubricate the necessary components.  With too much oil, some of the components may not get the lubrication necessary.  Oil mist systems have been shown to eliminate the issue of too much or too little oil.  However, running the mist system low on oil will cause the components to not be lubricated.  Also, the oil misters can become clogged which would lead to a lack of necessary lubrication.  This is why regular lubrication monitoring is necessary to keep equipment running smoothly for as long as possible. Attention to detail is essential in all aspects of machinery maintenance.

by Ana Maria Delgado, CRL

The Finger as a Sensor and Other Things That Are Of Utmost Importance!
Toyota did a study to find out why some equipment failed prematurely. They found that something like 80% of premature equipment failures could all be traced to three rather simple causes; causes that could have been prevented or remediated before they led to equipment breakdown. What were the three culprits?
a. Looseness
b. Improper Lubrication
c. Contamination
All three of these can be addressed by the vibration analyst during collection and analysis.
Looseness can be detected with a vibration analyzer. When you see looseness,  use your finger as a sensor and run it around the interfaces of the bearing pedestals, housings, and foundations. It is surprising how sensitive one can be to the phase difference of shaking parts that have become loose. See that it is remedied before it causes catastrophic failure.
Inadequate lubrication can be detected by Shock Pulse. If you are taking high frequency acceleration readings it will cause a raised noise floor. This one is best avoided altogether by a well-planned and supported lubrication program. Often, by the time poor lubrication is detected, a considerable amount of damage has already been done. An electric motor’s winding insulation breakdown rate is doubled for every 18° F rise over 165° F. This is why motor cooling fins are actually for cooling and not for holding dust, grime, or whatever. Contamination is an important condition to monitor via a manual input point for each machine area. Add it to your route. Report equipment covered in whatever foreign matter your plant has lots of so it can be properly cleaned before damage is created.
Focusing attention on the three areas above will definitely create value for your company.

by Mike Fitch CRL

Combine vibration monitoring and ultrasound for more cost-effective predictive maintenance
The best overall machinery monitoring program is one that utilizes multiple,  integrated monitoring technologies.
In brief:

  • The best overall machinery monitoring program is one that utilizes multiple, integrated monitoring technologies that are well-suited to detect expected failures modes.
  • One goal of PdM is to determine how much time is left before a machine will fail, so plans can be made to minimize downtime and damage while still getting the most useful life from the machine.
  • An application where ultrasound and vibration work well together is a mechanical inspection.

Reliability-centered maintenance programs are most effective and most profitable when a variety of appropriate technologies and tools are used to complement one another. Vibration analysis and ultrasound are as complementary as two sides of the same coin. Ultrasound is a useful monitoring tool, capable of detecting failing rolling element bearings and over- and under-lubrication conditions. The best overall machinery monitoring program is one that utilizes multiple, integrated monitoring technologies that are well-suited to detect expected failures modes. For low-risk machines, vibration analysis can be performed by a mechanic or operator using a vibration data collector or vibration meter. For machines of higher criticality, a certified vibration analyst should use advanced vibration data collection and analysis hardware and software.
Read my comments in this valuable PLANT SERVICES article.

by Trent Phillips

The Hibbing Taconite Company,  managed by Cliffs Natural Resources of Hibbing,  MN, won UPTIME Magazine’s Best Lubrication Program award. At the heart of their condition monitoring efforts is the Oil Analysis component of their lubrication program, key to helping them identify problems at an early stage of failure.Uptime Awards Best Maintenance Reliability Programs 2012
During the first phase of the program, which they called “First Evolution”, reliability engineers were trained as Level I Machine Lubrication Technicians (MLT1). Thereafter, dedicated lubrication mechanics were assigned in the plants to monitor the condition of the oil. They engaged with their vendors to identify needed parts and reviewed their planning, scheduling and work execution. They selected critical equipment on which to prove the concept.
During Phase 2, MLT1 training continued, including lubrication mechanics and supervisors. Critical equipment underwent lubrication upgrades with the addition of desiccant breathers, sight tubes, sample ports and quick couplers for filtering, allowing for safer filter changes and reducing cross contamination risk.
Today, 80 employees have been MLT1 trained on machinery lubrication and basic oil analysis. Employees are fully engaged and enjoy wholehearted management support as significant consumption reduction was realized. Management views the program as an investment.
During their presentation at the IMC-2012 International Maintenance Conference, Reliability Engineer Dan Lerick shared that in certain applications, they have proved a 3.5% energy reduction by switching to synthetic gear oil, which also extended oil drains from 5 to 15 years. Another positive was the switch to synthetic engine oil where they observed a reduction in fuel usage and fueling time, with an extension in engine life and extended drain and maintenance intervals.  Overall ROI was under 1 year!
In addition to their award-winning Lubrication Program and as part of their reliability efforts, the company uses CMMS software and other Predictive Maintenance technologies such as Ultrasonic examination, Laser Alignment with ROTALIGN ULTRA, etc. Learn more.
Congratulations to Dan Lerick and his team for this award and a job well done!
Program Highlights
1) Fluid Analysis consolidated across all Cliff operations. They now use a single oil lab after carefully ranking and comparing sample results from eight different labs. The benefit was consistency and the ability to review and compare data.
2) For Fluid Sampling, they developed sample standards per equipment specs, installed sample ports and trained personnel on how to collect samples. Their CMMS system controls their sample frequency.
3) The use of Grease Systems and Grease Routes wherever possible along with ultrasonic technology on motors.
4) Implementation of condition monitoring (CM) via oil moisture sensors and CM sensors for real-time monitoring. The immediate benefit was a reduction in overall site oil consumption by removing water contamination.
5) Cleaner and safer fluid changes with the use of dedicated Lube Carts to eliminate drips and spills.
6) All machines were tagged with machine identification and lubrication information to reduce mixing and cross contamination.

by Ana Maria Delgado, CRL

When machines are set in place,  aligned,  and buttoned-down, it becomes too easy to forget about the gear couplings that may be used to transmit power between the machines. Gear couplings are tough work horses that perform well in many applications because they operate quietly and efficiently. Since they are so reliable, we tend to take them for granted, forgetting about them unless trouble develops. Many times problems do occur simply because of neglect. Faults can usually be eliminated by keeping the shafts properly aligned and ensuring that the coupling lubricant is in good condition. Remember the old adage, “The right time to put in new lubricant is while the old lubricant is still good”. Open, inspect, and re-lubricate gear couplings every six months. If they operate in harsh conditions such as high ambient temperatures, they may need to be re-lubricated more frequently.  On opening the coupling, a close inspection of the lubricant will tell if the re-lubrication interval is too long. Adjust the interval accordingly, and be sure to use a lubricant specified for gear couplings. Also, make sure you do not over-lubricate. Pumping away with the grease gun until the lubricant oozes out past the containment o-ring is just as harmful as having too little lubricant. Finally, it is imperative that the lubricant fits the application and operating environment.

by Ana Maria Delgado, CRL

Machinery Lubrication Tip

In lubricating an electric motor bearing, long grease purge pipes create backpressure, which increases the chance of grease being forced into windings or excess grease remaining in the bearing. Therefore, drain pipes should be as short as possible and not have any turns if possible.
Tip provided by Garry Villamil of TRILUX ELECTRONICS & LUMINAIRES, INC.
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by Ana Maria Delgado, CRL