Archive | Delivery Systems


9:00 am
July 15, 2016
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Battery-Driven Grease Gun

1607mtprod20pTLGB 20 battery-driven grease gun has an integrated grease meter to dispense the proper amount of lubricant for an application. A rechargeable 20-V lithium battery delivers extended service life. A built-in light illuminates the work area. The gun dispenses as many as 15 grease cartridges/battery charge and has two flow rates adjustable for specific application. Pressures to 10,000 psi can be achieved.

Lansdale, PA


1:48 am
March 9, 2016
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Simalube IMPULSE Pressure Booster Overcomes Long-Lubrication-Line Challenges and More

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 7.30.22 PMsimatec Inc. (Charlotte, NC) refers to its recently launched simalube IMPULSE pressure booster (up to 145 psi) as “the perfect complement” to its 60-, 125-, and 250-ml simalube lubricators. An addition to the company’s portfolio of smart technologies, simalube IMPULSE is well suited for high-counterpressure applications and systems with long lubrication lines (up to 4 meters, or approximately 13 feet, in length.). The unit’s compact size allows installation in the smallest of spaces, in all positions, even underwater. As an IP68 protection class device, it’s dustproof, waterproof, and appropriate for use in a wide range of industries.

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 6.48.16 PMHow It Works
According to the manufacturer, users simply affix the simalube IMPULSE to the selected lubrication point, screw on the required simalube lubricator and activate the unit for the desired dispensing time. The device starts operating as soon as a battery pack is inserted and the lubricator is attached. Continuous lubrication impulses of 0.5 ml supply the lubrication point with oil or grease up to NLGI 2 at a pressure of up to 10 bar. This action is gentle on the lubricant, as only the dosing volume is placed under pressure.

This simalube IMPULSE also continually signals its operating state. When the unit is properly installed, an LED indicator flashes green at regular intervals. Red flashes indicate overpressure, inactive, and empty conditions. Although dispensing intervals set by the lubricator may change, this intelligent pressure-boosting device will automatically adjust.

Maintainability and Service Life
During lubricator change-outs, the simalube IMPULSE stays firmly affixed to the lubrication point. The connection point remains sealed throughout the process, and no lubricant back-flow occurs. Equipped with a fresh battery pack after each lubricator change-out, the pressure-booster can be used multiple times (for 10 simalube 125 ml dispensing cycles or for up to three years).

For more information, CLICK HERE.




5:28 pm
January 12, 2016
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Lubrication Strategies: Several Hands Responsible For This Oil Debacle

The actions of personnel can either lead to great success in lubrication programs or, as this case study shows, to costly calamity.

By Ken Bannister, MEch Eng (UK), CMRP, MLE, Contributing Editor

Lubrication team members must understand how their actions can have negative upstream and/or downstream impact should they neglect to effectively and efficiently fulfill their roles.

Lubrication team members must understand how their actions can have negative upstream and/or downstream impact should they neglect to effectively and efficiently fulfill their roles.

Winston Churchill wrote, “Responsibility is the price of greatness.” These words have special meaning for those of us in the lubrication field.

In organizations that seek to become great, all personnel must understand the negative upstream and/or downstream impact that their individual actions could have should they neglect to effectively and efficiently fulfill their roles. This is especially true of lubrication team members, who, through daily interaction with machinery and moving parts, are directly responsible for the successful lubrication of equipment in their charge—as well as for any consequences resulting from their activities. Their failures will manifest directly in the loss of equipment availability, reliability, and life-cycle longevity, and indirectly through production yield and quality losses.

A case in point

My look into the oil and grease purchasing patterns of a major North American automotive-assembly manufacturer during a lubrication-operations effectiveness review (LOER) was a real eye opener. I was astounded by the many tens of thousands of dollars per month the corporation was spending on just one type of chain-lubricant oil.

This automatic-chain-lubricator oil was a name brand, premium-quality, molybdenum disulphide, high-temperature formulation. Designed specifically to lubricate power- and free-conveyor chain pins and bearings passing through the types of high-temperature paint-bake ovens found in automobile assembly lines, it was an ideal match for the application. So, given those facts, why was the facility using so much of the product for just four conveyor-lubricator systems? Moreover, why had the lubrication staff or the lubricant supplier neither noticed nor brought to management’s attention the systems’ dramatic (more than 10-fold) increase in lubricant consumption over the past two years?

Further investigation revealed that the chain-oil consumption increase had coincided with the hiring of a new lubrication technician. The PM (preventive maintenance) job plan and frequency for checking and filling the automated lubricator reservoirs, though, had remained unchanged—from the time the devices were installed and commissioned more than three years prior. This discovery prompted a physical investigation of the four lubricators themselves. The findings were more than surprising!

The four lubricators were a popular, highly reliable brand. Low-tech in design, they used a pneumatic pump-to-point-style pump connected to dynamic injectors that would “volley” or “shoot” a small fixed amount of oil into either the unshielded trolley rolling-element bearings or the chain-link pins that connected the trolleys.

All of the devices were in excellent condition—and still located where they had been originally installed—complete with reservoirs full of oil. Curiously, though, all had been shut off electrically at the breaker and their pneumatic air supplies had been shut off at the feed-line valves. As a result, all of these units were totally useless.

Investigators subsequently learned that the four original lubricators had been “replaced” further down the conveyor line by a makeshift gravity-lubrication system that featured 1-gal. paint cans clamped to the conveyor I-beam as oil reservoirs. Installed in the bottom of each can were two small cock valves fitted with copper lines dropping down to two commercial, adjustable oil-drip brushes that were very wet with lubricant—just like the over-lubricated conveyor chain and roller bearings they served.

Questioned about this state of affairs, the plant’s production and quality supervisors told a story of numerous paint-quality problems that, they believed, had been caused by lubricant over-spray. After complaining about the matter to the new lubricant technician, they said, the situation eventually seemed to improve, i.e., fewer quality incidents occurred.

When interviewed, the lubrication technician reported that upon assuming his new role he had received no formal training or direction other than to follow the instructions on the work orders and use common sense. Shortly after starting the job, because of the workload, he decided to ignore the automated lubricator PM work order and, instead, rely on the lubricator-reservoirs’ low-level lights as condition indicators for adding oil. After the first three months, all low-level indicators had activated, at which time the technician had correctly filled the reservoirs with the correct oil (or so he thought).

During later lubricant checks, however, the reservoirs appeared full, and didn’t seem to be dispensing oil at all. Consequently, after multiple unsuccessful attempts to alert his supervisor to the situation, the technician took it upon himself to exercise his personal version of common sense and engineer a new system. Thus was born the gravity system of paint cans and brushes—for which, incidentally, almost a year had been spent working out the settings so that oil wouldn’t drip off the conveyor on to the painted vehicles. (To his credit, the technician did show the new system to the lubricant supplier’s representative. Accordingly, after approving the design, the rep also began enjoying increased orders and commissions for his product.)

In the end, simple diagnostics performed on the automated chain-oil lubricators found the units to be in perfect working order. The reason they had failed to dispense lubricant? At some point, their oil levels had been allowed to drop so low that the injectors and pumps lost their prime. The devices simply needed to be re-primed.

Lessons learned

As this case study shows, a few simple lapses in responsible behavior resulted in serious quality issues requiring many hundreds of thousands of dollars in vehicle repaint costs, many tens of thousands of dollars in excess lubricant costs, and overall reduced conveyor life due to ineffective lubrication practices.

Many readers might vote to place blame wholly on the lubricant technician for this calamity. In this story, though, he should only take partial blame: A millwright by trade, with no formal lubrication training, he had been placed in his position based solely on seniority. To exacerbate the situation, there were no specific priming instructions regarding the automated lubricators, either in the work-order job plan or on or near the units themselves.

Still, while the technician tried unsuccessfully, on several occasions, to notify his supervisor of the lubricator problem, he also chose to ignore the initial PM in favor of a different lubrication approach without performing a risk analysis. His McGyver-style paint-can fix could definitely be construed as irresponsible for a tradesperson. He should, at the very least, have tried to find an operations manual or learn more about the specific lubricators he was dealing with before condemning them so quickly and creating a bigger downstream problem.

Much of the blame, however, really belongs to the site’s supervisory personnel:

  • the maintenance supervisor who irresponsibly did not adequately support his technician or notice the makeshift lubricators and/or the massive increases in his monthly lubricant spend
  • the production supervisor who irresponsibly bypassed the maintenance supervisor in favor of speaking directly to the lubrication technician.

Final blame goes to the irresponsible actions of the lubricant supplier. From an ethical standpoint, its representative certainly should have discussed the massive increase in chain-oil consumption with the plant’s maintenance supervisor and/or the purchasing department.

Responsibility is born out of knowing what to do and when to do it. In the case of the four referenced automated chain lubricators, problems could have been prevented with:

  • lubrication certification training
  • clear workflow processes
  • improved PM work-order job plans
  • standardized operating procedures
  • failure risk analysis on critical equipment
  • improved inter- and intra-departmental communications.

To be sure, the lubrication technician in this story was out of his depth. With a little effort, however, the costly scenario that he created could have been avoided.  MT

Lubrication expert Ken Bannister is principal consultant with EngTech Industries, Innerkip, Ontario. He is the author of Lubrication for Industry and the Lubrication Section of the 28th Edition of Machinery’s Handbook (both Industrial Press, South Norwalk, CT), contact him at


“Extending Chain Life”

“Key Factors in a World-Class Lubrication Program”

“Keep Hydraulic Fluids Contaminant Free ”


6:37 pm
June 12, 2015
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Lubrication Checkup: Oil “Lumps” Blocking Injectors

1014lubecheckupBy Ken “Dr. Lube” Bannister


We have experienced lubricant-injector failures in a number of our conveyor lubricators. We’ve used the same brand of high-temperature chain oil for the past five years without issue, except for the last drum. In that drum, we discovered coagulated “lumps” floating in the oil. The oil supplier is blaming our storage practices. Meanwhile, we’re having great difficulty getting the lubricators to work, despite changing the oil for fresh product. Any suggestions?


Regarding lubricant condition, oil has a shelf life determined by base-oil type, additive-package ingredients, and the finished product’s storage prior to use. Most lubricating-oil manufacturers claim an estimated shelf life of +/-5 years when their products are stored correctly indoors. Wide temperature swings, however, can result in wax and sediment creation (if the oil gets too cold), premature oxidation (if it gets too hot), and condensation-moisture contamination from hot/cold temperature cycling. Interestingly, high-temperature lubricants can be manufactured with volatile carrier agents that can flash off during storage (especially if open to air) and cause the remaining lube to “thicken” or coagulate.

Regarding your lubricators, injector-style conveyor designs require priming on the lubricator’s initial fill or when the lubricant level falls below the pick-up tube point. Badly contaminated or coagulated lubricants can make the injector difficult or impossible to prime.


  • Always check with your supplier about the shelf life of your lubricant(s) and develop a purchase-quantity and stock-rotation strategy based on first in/first out principles and current usage patterns. To promote freshness, buy small amounts on a frequent basis and always use an indelible marker to note the receipt date on lubricant containers when they are delivered.
  • Never store new containers of lubricant outdoors without protection from the elements. If possible, strive to store all oils and greases in a dry, indoor location at a temperature range between 0 and 110 F.
  • Ensure that all lubricant-container bungs, lids, and breathers are always in place.
  • Use a suitable cleaning or flushing agent to remove old oil from your lubricators, pumps included.
  • Finally, remove and replace injectors with new ones of the same size, then prime the lubricator with fresh oil, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Proper storage will go a long way toward achieving specified lubricant performance. MT

Ken Bannister of Engtech Industries Inc., is a lubrication management specialist and author of Lubrication for Industry (Industrial Press), and the Lubrication section of the 28th Edition Machinery’s Handbook (Industrial Press). For in-house ICML lubrication-certification training, contact him at 519-469-9173 or


7:37 pm
December 1, 2014
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Lubrication Checkup: Grease Delivery Lines

1014lubecheckupBy Dr. Lube, aka Ken Bannister


“Recent fork-lift damage to one of our machines affected several steel grease-delivery lines connected to one of the Trabon automatic-greasing system’s lube blocks. Can I rely on the lube pump to pre-fill the replacement lines?”


A typical Trabon centralized grease-lubrication system consists of a pump assembly connected to a number of progressive divider distribution blocks. Each block has one line in and numerous lines out, connected to either a secondary distribution block or direct to the lube points. Each discharge point on a block could be feeding a different size bearing requiring differing amounts of grease. Therefore, the system and blocks must be custom engineered and built prior to assembly on the machine, and all lines filled prior to use. When a charge of grease is pumped into the block, the pistons actuate progressively, one after another, as the lubricant moves through the porting in the block and the correct amount is delivered to each bearing point.


Remember that you are dealing with a hydraulic system. Its lines must be pre-filled prior to startup so that small, apportioned amounts of grease discharged at the block can simultaneously hydraulically push an equal amount of grease at the line end into the bearing. Using the lube pump to fill lines will take a very long time due to the apportioning aspect of the system. In the process, some bearings could fail as a result of lube starvation.

All block discharge points have the ability to be piped into the side of the block (the most common arrangement) or into the front. Both discharge exits are connected, and the unused one will be plugged. Simply undo this plug and screw in a regular grease nipple. Next, undo the corresponding end of the grease line at the bearing point, connect a grease gun and hand-fill the line.

Once grease appears at the bearing-point end, reconnect the line, take out the grease nipple and re-plug the block. Repeat for all delivery lines and you are good to go! MT

Ken Bannister of Engtech Industries, Inc., is a Lubrication Management Specialist and author of Lubrication for Industry (Industrial Press), and the Lubrication section of the 28th Edition Machinery’s Handbook (Industrial Press). For in-house ICML lubrication-certification training, contact him at 519-469-9173 or


4:56 pm
September 23, 2014
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Lubrication Checkup: How to Correct SPL Failures

1014lubecheckupBy Dr. Lube, aka Ken Bannister


“We use programmable single-point lubricators for our hard-to-reach equipment bearings and regularly perform preventive-maintenance (PM) checks to ensure the units are working properly. Those PM checks recently detected that a number of newly installed units have failed to deliver any grease in weeks, despite a full charge of grease and the unit displaying active status. Is the unit at fault?”


All programmable single-point-lubrication (SPL) devices are similar in that they are predominantly designed to dispense grease into a single lubrication point, in a continuous manner, for up to two years on a single charge of lubricant. Programmable units are primarily battery-operated, self-contained units designed to operate using an electro-mechanical discharge pump or an electro-chemical reaction chamber that forces gas into a hermetically sealed expandable bellows chamber and “pushes” grease into the lube line.

Any of the following situations can cause the unit to appear functional in a “stalled” state of operation:

  1. The lube line carrying grease from the unit to the bearing point is blocked with debris or partially collapsed, causing line back pressure that will can stall the unit.
  2. The bearing has turned in the housing, creating a line blockage.
  3. The unit is operating outside in cold weather using a heavy #2 grease.
  4. The unit is set up on the longest delivery settings and has not been set up correctly prior to installation.


ALWAYS read the manufacturer’s instructions before using any SPL device. Many units are required to run on their shortest delivery cycle (full throttle delivery) for up to 12 or more hours to ensure the unit is working properly prior to set up and installation. And ALWAYS check that you have the correct NLGI numbered grease for the ambient operating temperature.

Moreover, when installing an SPL unit, make sure the delivery line has not been damaged or crimped in any way. MT

Ken Bannister of Engtech Industries, Inc., is a Lubrication Management Specialist and author of Lubrication for Industry (Industrial Press), and the Lubrication section of the 28th Edition Machinery’s Handbook (Industrial Press). For in-house ICML lubrication-certification training, contact him at 519-469-9173 or


10:39 pm
February 21, 2014
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Lubrication Checkup: Grease-Gun Tips

lubrication checkup 0809

By Ken Bannister, Contributing Editor


We must have at least a dozen different grease guns in our maintenance department. Some deliver more lubricant than others, yet our PMs call for a fixed amount of shots. Is this a problem? 


There are no “standard” grease guns. While they may look similar, displacement and hydraulic pressure ratings vary from gun to gun. For example, a manufacturer may offer two lever-arm-actuated models: a low-pressure unit rated to deliver one fluid ounce of grease in seven strokes (shots) at a pressure of 1700 psi; and a similar-looking sister product rated to deliver one fluid ounce in 24 strokes at a staggering 15,000 psi! Note: Not all manufacturers state delivery or pressure on their guns or literature. You may need to ask for it.

If a PM calls for four shots of grease, the amount delivered will vary depending on the gun and setup. Over-lubrication, a huge problem in manual greasing, is magnified when a PM task states “grease as necessary,” which gives no clear direction on what’s required. In addition to being overfilled, the bearings could lose their seals under the resulting internal hydraulic pressure and allow contamination into the bearing cavity.


Ideally, a bearing cavity only needs filling to approximately 40% volume. If a single-point manual grease gun is your chosen delivery method, the following steps can help standardize your approach and reduce problems:

1. Implement a lubricating-grease consolidation program.

2. Collect and purge all grease guns in the plant and replace with a single design, preferably with a see-through barrel.

3. Perform a grease-gun displacement check by pumping 10 strokes or shots of grease into a large calibrated syringe, then read off the number of cubic centimeters or inches in volume and divide by 10 to get the actual volume displacement per shot or stroke.

4. Calculate bearing requirements and mark on a schematic attached to the machine or printed with the PM work order.

5. Optional: Color-tag individual grease points to denote grease type and mark the number of shots required per PM schedule.

6. Train grease-gun operators.

Good Luck! MT&AP

Dr. Lube, aka Contributing Editor Ken Bannister, is, among other things, a Lubrication Management Specialist and author of Lubrication for Industry and the Lubrication Section of the 28th Edition Machinery’s Handbook (both from Industrial Press). Email your lubrication checkup and training questions to:; or telephone: (519) 469-9173.

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7:07 pm
October 9, 2013
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Lubrication Checkup: Single-Point Lubricators

lubrication checkup 0809

By Ken Bannister, Contributing Editor


“We’ve begun using a variety of single-point lubricators for remote plant bearings on HVAC rooftop units, cranes, conveyor drives, etc. While our bearing failure rate has decreased drastically, we still experience failures. Is that normal for this type of automated lubricator?”


Automatic single-point lubrication (SPL) devices are relatively inexpensive, compact and easy to operate when engineered and set up correctly. They can continuously deliver full-film lubrication to single or multiple bearing points for up to two years on one lubricant charge. There are four major SPL types:

1. Mechanical: Grease-gun-filled and reusable, spring-actuated; relies on atmospheric and system backpressure to slow lubricant release.

2. Chemical: Pre-filled single-use; employs a chemical reaction to generate expandable gas acting on a flexible diaphragm to push the lubricant into the bearing; once invoked, can’t be stopped or influenced until all lubricant is discharged. 

3. Electro-Chemical: Pre-filled single-use; employs a battery-operated programmable timer that sends an electrical charge into an electrolyte to produce an inert expandable gas that acts against an expandable bellows to push out lubricant.

4.Electro-Mechanical: Battery-operated, motor-driven device attached to a small positive-displacement piston pump; fully controllable and refillable; higher discharge pressure allows coupling to “splitter” devices and lubrication of numerous points simultaneously with one pump.

Each type demands different set-up and maintenance procedures. Their success relies on the user understanding exactly how to install and operate the chosen type, compensating for ambient condition factors and performing regular preventive checks while the SPL is in operation. Lack of discipline in this area can easily lead to incorrect use and bearing failure.

A second reason for bearing failure can be attributed to use of the wrong grease. Many SPLs come pre-filled with a specified lubricant that can easily be mixed and/or mismatched when units are taken from inventory. Be careful.

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Keep your approach toward SPLs simple and consistent: Choose a design that best suits the application and use only that type of lubricator. Closely read and follow the OEM’s instructions for setting up, operating and maintaining the unit. Then train all staff on its use. Good luck! MT

Lube questions? Ask Dr. Lube, aka Ken Bannister, author of the book Lubrication for Industry and the Lubrication section of the 28th edition Machinery’s Handbook. He’s also a Contributing Editor for Maintenance Technology and Lubrication Management & Technology. E-mail:

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