“We are a small manufacturing company with a maintenance staff of 8 persons. We currently support a loosely put together lubrication program, but continue to experience many premature bearing failures. We recognize the [lubrication] program is probably not very effective, and would like some suggestions on where to start our improvement efforts.”
Getting the most out of your lubrication program requires an understanding of lubrication fundamentals. Performing a “back to basics” examination of your current program will ensure that it is built on a solid foundation and deriving optimized benefits from effective lubrication.
Examining the following two “basic” areas will help you in determining if you have major problems with your lubrication program and give you a great starting point for improvement:
1. Cleanliness – The old adage “cleanliness is next to godliness” must be the mantra of the day when working with lubrication. Bearing surface areas and lubrication systems are NOT dirt tolerant. Poor work practices and dirty lubricant storage/handling tools and areas are responsible for many premature bearing failures. Develop a cleaning regimen as part of the PM task. Ensure the lubricant reservoirs and lubricant delivery devices are always kept scrupulously clean.
2. Over-lubrication – Most bearings and motors are actually “killed with kindness” by over-zealous maintainers over-lubricating bearings. Telltale signs include:
a. Blown seals – A seal is no match for the pressure of a grease gun in an untrained hand.
b. Oceans of grease surrounding or dripping from the bearing – “More is better” is a false assumption when it comes to lubrication.
c. Multiple non-standard grease guns still in use – No two grease guns are alike; they all have different pressure ratings and delivery speci? cations.
d. Subjective PMs stating “lubricate as necessary” – Rarely will two individuals’ ideas as to the necessary amount be the same.
e. Grease-packed motor armatures – Many motors expire prematurely from over-lubrication.
On your organization’s road to lube wellness, it’s important to examine for evidence of these signs. Then, seek help from a Lubrication Engineering specialist to provide proper training and assistance in realigning your lubrication program.
Have lubrication questions? Contact Dr. Lube, aka Ken Bannister, specializes in helping companies throughout industry implement practical and successful lubrication management programs. The noted author of the best-selling book Lubrication for Industry and of the 28th edition Machinery’s Handbook section on Lubrication, he also is, among other things, a contributing editor to both Maintenance Technology and Lubrication Management & Technology magazines. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org