Friction is all around us and enables us to do everything from driving a car to holding a book in our hands and walking to a nearby store to get our favorite snack. It helps us walk, run, and even stand on our feet, but friction is both our friend and foe when it comes to operating plant machinery.
If you're a part of a lubrication program in an industry, you probably know how friction can pose problems as it does solutions. As a result, you always find yourself in a constant battle with friction that cuts the life of your equipment short. This is especially true if you are dealing with rolling element bearings, where 40 percent of bearings never make it to their engineered end of life because of poor lubrication practices.
Below, we discuss the three most common mistakes people make when lubricating their bearings. These mistakes should be avoided at all costs.
Lubrication Based On Time And Not Condition
Many manufacturing industries think they are doing well by regularly scheduling lubrication for their machinery as it is an age-old tradition and seems like a sensible thing to do. However, this is not a good practice and definitely not the best way to apply lubricant.
Bearings need lubricant for one reason only, and that is to reduce friction between its parts. And if the already present lubricant is perfectly doing its job, then there is no need to change it or add more to it. A way around this practice is to constantly monitor your friction level with a dedicated monitor and change the lubricant only when friction levels start to creep.
Lubricating a bearing just because it was 'scheduled' is the first mistake many people make. To avoid catastrophic results, it is essential to monitor and measure friction levels with ultrasound to know when is the right time to grease.
Under And Over Lubricating
The second mistake many people make when taking care of their machines is under or over lubricating them. A little too much or a little under, might not seem like a big deal but even a slightly incorrect amount of the lubricant can lead to complex problems.
For example, too much lubricant in the machine can cause a build-up of pressure, which will push the bearing elements through the fluid film and against the outer race. This can cause the bearings to work a lot harder and push the elements through the dense grease. This will cause an increase in friction and pressure, and will ultimately result in raising the operating temperatures of the machine bearings. Excess heat can decrease the effectiveness of the lubricant, making the oil separate from the thickener. The same is true when not enough grease is added to the rollings.
Monitoring With A Listen-only Ultrasound Instrument
The ultrasound device is used to monitor and measure friction levels in the bearings as new lubricant is added in a machine little by little. However, just listening to a sound with no measurement feedback is not enough to determine how much grease is required. It is, in fact, a recipe for disaster for three reasons;
- No two people will ever hear exactly the same thing.
- No one will remember what the bearings sounded like in the last test conducted months or weeks ago.
- The audible feedback alone is not enough to draw any comparative conclusions.
Depending entirely on ultrasound noise is, therefore, the third mistake that should be avoided at any cost. Precise, quantifiable data is available by using an ultrasound instrument with digital decibel metering. Better yet, use a device that provides multiple health indicators of bearings and provide you with information that can be used to lubricate the bearings adequately.
Micro Lube is an established and entrusted source of lubrication and oil filtration products, and maintenance services for commercial and industrial applications in Edmonton. Visit our website or contact us for more information!