From food-processing plants and refineries to power plants and manufacturing facilities, there are several recurring lubrication problems that seem to be widespread across all industries. The following are some of the common lubrication problems and their solutions:
Lack of documented procedures
The retirement of lubrication experts and technicians has been a major problem. As experienced people are reaching retirement, they are taking with them knowledge and years of experience. In some manufacturing plants, a lube-tech position may have been held by a single person for years. Highly experienced technicians associated with this profession are the master of their domains and they understand every sound and sight of their machines.
Passing down the knowledge and dedication to the next generation is imperative. Documented procedures help new personnel understand how various tasks must be performed. You can find countless books and articles on how procedures should be documented. Once documented, these procedures must be implemented in true spirit.
Procedures must be created with best practices in mind and may not take into account what is currently being done in your facility. For example, if you are putting new oil into service without testing it for contamination, it is not considered a best practice. Design procedures in a manner that enables you to transform your basic lubrication system into a world-class maintenance system.
It is important to recognize that grease guns are precision instruments. Misuse of grease guns can create problems. Overgreasing is another common lubrication problem which can lead to premature bearing failure, higher operating temperatures and an increased risk of contaminant ingression.
Determining the output of grease guns while calculating the regrease requirements for all bearings is a good place to start. There are other concerns that must be considered; for example, the output of grease can vary between guns. To resolve this problem, standardize with a single type of grease gun so that a similar output can be achieved. Outfitting bearings with grease purge fittings allows excess grease to be expelled without affecting the seal.
The absence of a labeling system
Labeling is an integral part of any top-notch lubrication program. It reduces the chances of cross-contamination by making it easy to identify lubricants. The use of labels is not limited to merely identifying lubricants; you can barcode lube labels to allow all assets in the plant to be integrated into a central computer. It’s a time-consuming process to develop a labeling system; however, when done properly, it will provide information not only about the lubricant but also about the lubricant interval.
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