Lubricants play an important role in all mechanical equipment. No machine can work efficiently without proper lubrication. Plant operations everywhere are dependent on well-lubricated machinery to maintain smooth production and maximise uptime. However, proper lubrication requires more than mere application of overflowing grease to different parts of the machinery. Add too much or too little, and overheating, frequent downtime and large maintenance costs will be the outcome. However, by applying certain steps, it’s possible to reduce problems associated with lubrication.
1. Make the proper assessment
The first step is to assess the condition of the current lubrication process. Analyze the parts that are working well and the ones that need improvement.
2. Plan the tasks accordingly
Organize the time, the type and amount of lubrication, and the right process to keep the machinery in working order. Every detail of the lubrication plan needs to be taken into consideration. Take notes to keep yourself on track and for future reference if anything unexpected comes up during the process.
3. Identify the lubricant and its application
Not all pieces of equipment use the same type of lubricant. Mixing different types of oils can shorten the lifespan of the machinery and affect the end product. It’s imperative to use a labeling system to match the right lubricant with the right machine to improve process efficiency and prevent cross-contamination. Furthermore, the way a lubricant is applied, the amount, and how often it should be checked and changed are vital aspects to consider as well.
4. Keep the lubricant clean
Before using the oil, ensure its cleanliness. Be certain that the type of container used will not contaminate the lubricant. Also, filter the oil several times prior to any application as it often contains several abrasive components that can speed up the wear of machinery. Fit air breathers to containers and make sure they are perfectly sealed to prevent water from getting inside. Follow ISO 4406 to determine optimal filters and breathers for the process. Keep containers indoors whenever possible.
5. Use lubrication tools efficiently
Since not all lubricants work the same way, you have to ensure they don’t mix when tools are used. Use a different grease gun for each type of oil to prevent contamination. Different colored, dust free containers may be helpful to assist you in identifying them.
6. Incorporate ultrasound tools
Ultrasound tools are helpful to determine when equipment should be checked for lubrication, how much grease should be applied to it and which type needs to be used. It takes guessing out of the equation and can be used to double-check parameters established in the procedure.
7. Test regularly
Always analyze the oil and equipment. Establishing a program to test lubricants and machinery on a frequent basis is a necessity. Checking them often, allows you to determine how long they will keep working smoothly and let you take precautions before any lubricant-related damage takes place.
8. Train the personnel
Personnel taking care of the lubrication process need to be trained in the best practices. They must know the type of oil used in a specific piece of machinery and why. They also need to be aware of the risks of contamination and how to prevent it.
9. Audit the process
A routine audit has to be in place to ensure the process works the way it should. Speaking to the operators regularly and asking them questions about the types of lubricants employed and how they are used is essential to decrease the occurrence of human errors.
As you can see, keeping the machinery lubricated is not difficult but requires the right methodology. Although implementing an effective process may take time, the benefits are too great to ignore. By following a few simple guidelines, it’s possible to reduce costs, lower downtime and extend the life of any piece of equipment.
Article by – Austin Winder, Public Relations Specialist
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