For most manufacturers, unscheduled machine downtime is the largest cause of lost production time. These downtimes, which result from equipment malfunction or failure, can cost industries millions of dollars and ruin their reputation in the market. For this reason, companies must figure out the factors that may lead to machine malfunctions and breakdowns. One of the biggest reasons for machine failure is its incorrect and inadequate lubrication.
Proper lubrication is essential to ensure all moving parts of a machine are operating efficiently. A lack of investment in a lubrication program can lead to high maintenance costs, lost revenue, and equipment downtime. To establish the perfect lubrication program for your machines and avoid these premature machine failure incidents, below are five common lubrication mistakes and tips to avoid them.
Using The Wrong Lubricant
Selecting the right kind of lubricants for your machine is often difficult. Besides considering the type of application and mechanical technicalities, you must also consider the lubricant's properties and its changing additive packages. Moreover, the wide variety of available oils in the market make the selection process even more challenging.
For machine bearings and guides, selecting the right lubricant is even more critical, as the wrong one will shorten their useful life and may also result in catastrophic failures.
Therefore, choosing the appropriate lubricant for a machine will directly influence its efficiency and performance. To select the proper lubricant for your equipment, follow the steps below:
- Figure out the lubricant's purpose
- Consider the application's operating conditions
- Carefully view the properties and additive packages of the lubricant
- Take into account the lubricant's lifespan
- Consider its ease of application
- Select a reliable vendor or supplier
- Finally, compare the prices of the lubricants and select the one most suitable for you
Neglecting Lubrication Maintenance
Manually and visually inspecting and maintaining the lubricant present inside the machine is the most important step to avoid machine downtime and failure. People often wait too long to perform this inspection. This negligence leads to unscheduled downtime and lost productivity.
A structured and properly calibrated lubrication program can prevent unscheduled machine failure. It will also help extend the bearings life and will increase the efficiency of the machine. A comprehensive lubrication program will consist of self-lubricating the machine, a thorough inspection of the lubricant and its condition monitoring, and finally, its timely drainage.
When visually checking the condition of the lubricant, make sure:
- The lubricant film is thin and consistent
- There are no signs of over or under lubrication
- It is not contaminated
Improperly Handling & Storing The Lubricant
Proper lubrication storage and transportation are critical to improving the performance and service life of your lubricant. Although this is often overlooked, proper storage and handling can significantly impact your overall lubrication program's success.
This is because the fluids are vulnerable to contamination by dust and dirt, and other environmental conditions that can adversely affect your lubricants' shelf life. So, whether you're storing your lubricants indoors or outdoors, it is essential to follow proper lubrication protocols.
For proper lubrication storage, do the following things:
- Colour-code your lubricant containments
- Keep the lubricant containers in a clean and dry environment
- Make sure the storage place is sheltered and well-ventilated
- Do not store the lubricant near sources of heat and steam
Inadequate Training Of The Workers
For the machine lubrication program to be successful, industries must invest in their workers' training and education. Most operators in factories handling machine lubrication are not trained enough to avoid mistakes that lead to machine failure and malfunctioning.
Moreover, most maintenance staff are not as familiar with maintaining bearing lubrication and need proper instructions. Failing to invest in your workers training will lead to improper maintenance, reducing your machine's operating life.