Archive | May/June


6:00 am
May 1, 2008
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Our Perspective: Taking Care Of Business… The Right Way!


Ken Bannister, Contributing Editor

The key to performing a successful, professional job in any walk of life has long been attributed to three simple rules: preparation, quality work and clean-up. If you ever have had contractors perform work in your home, those most likely to receive your recommendation for future work typically would have followed these rules. But, if you were to rate the best of the best, the winner would probably be the one who showed the most favorable disposition—toward the job and the customer. As human beings, we simply tend to gravitate in the direction of people who are both competent and easy to get along with. Consider the following example.

Like most car owners, I have taken my vehicles to a variety of garages and dealerships for maintenance work over the years. Yet, none have ever surpassed a particular Chrysler dealership I frequented well before “customer satisfaction” became an abused mantra. There, I was fortunate to have my vehicle worked on by a mechanic named Ed, who proved to be highly competent at repairing all makes of vehicles. Ed never had a vehicle returned for poor workmanship.

What made Ed special above all else was his disposition—he cared and it showed.

For a simple oil change, Ed would clean the valve cover before filling with oil and always use a fender cover to ensure that the paint was kept clean during the process. To top the job off, he would fill up the windshield wash jar, dust the car’s dashboard, shake off dirt from the floor mats and empty the ashtrays—all on his own time and cost.

On his own volition, Ed also had negotiated a special rate with the local car wash. That helped him out with larger mechanical jobs—when he would run a car through the wash during his test drive at the end of the work.

Little wonder Ed was loved by his customers, becoming the most requested mechanic at the dealership. Sadly, I lost Ed as my mechanic when I was fortunate enough to lure him away from the dealership and hire him as a lubrication system installation specialist. With training, Ed excelled and went on to become an exceptional and wellrespected lubrication program manager.

Whether we choose to believe it or not, all maintainers are in the customer service business—and good service does get recognized.

Simple acts like planning the job beforehand, having the right parts to do the work, ensuring cleanliness and safety at the job site, performing work carefully, cleaning up the mess and the equipment—including tools—at the end of the job and taking the time to complete the paperwork correctly are all hallmarks of caring and excellence! Doing it with a smile just adds icing to the cake.

Adopting good work habits, with a good disposition is simply taking care of business the right way. This approach, in turn, is good for the equipment, good for the environment, good for department moral and good for you in the long run.

Are you taking care of business the right way? Good Luck!

Ken Bannister is lead partner and principal consultant for Engtech Industries, Inc. Telephone: (519) 469-9173; e-mail:

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6:00 am
May 1, 2008
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Problem Solvers

0608_probsolvers_airContaminant-Free Compressed Air For Pneumatics

The SKF® “SFD” dryer system is uniquely engineered for industrial applications to deliver compressed air free of oil, contaminants and water. In conjunction with large air compressors and systems, this compact unit dries compressed air for pneumatic applications directly from the tank, eliminating a need for after-coolers and additional external filters. The system also can be mounted on small air compressors or at point of use. Units can be supplied for 12VAC, 24VAC, and 120VAC, or fully pneumatic requiring no electrical connection. All can serve whether in high or low ambient temperature conditions. All units can be customized to satisfy specific application requirements.

Kulpsville, PA


Special Food & Pharma Synthetic For Rolling Bearings

Klüber has introduced Millplex FMG-2 US, a special, synthetic grease for lubricating machine rolling bearings in food and pharmaceutical manufacturing plants (NSF H1 registration is pending). Composed of a synthetic base oil and a calcium sulphonate complex thickener, it is particularly well suited for use in the manufacturing of grain, meal and pellet animal feeds. Klüber recommends applying Millplex FMG-2 using standard, commercial grease equipment.

Klüber Lubrication
Londonderry, NH

Real-Time Access to Work Orders

MicroMain has announced general availability of MicroMain for BlackBerry, software that expands the company’s mobile options for its computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). This new product now enables managers and maintenance technicians to use handheld devices to receive maintenance tasks and information, indicate work accomplished and upload status, hours and additional information to the MicroMain database. All mobile functionality is managed by log-in, which lets administrators determine security, type of data and parameters for specific users.

MicroMain Corporation
Austin, TX

0608_probsolvers_bearingCalculate ROI From Effective Bearing Protection

Inpro/Seal’s Return On Investment Calculation Worksheet (ROI/WS) is an Excel spreadsheet worksheet that helps users of pumps and motors quantify the effectiveness of bearing isolators (like the model OM32 pictured here that is used in oil mist applications) when applied to rotating equipment. Once it’s downloaded and completed, it allows plants to calculate their own ROI relative to the use of bearing isolators, including benchmarks of current repair costs and the effect of doubling the reliability of their rotating equipment. End users merely plug in their numbers to benchmark the amount of repairs and maintenance dollars saved by installing bearing isolators. The worksheet then calculates the actual costs of the bearing isolators, taking MTBF and previous maintenance histories into consideration. This Return on Investment Calculation tool is available at no charge from Inpro/Seal.

Inpro/Seal Company 
Rock Island, IL

0608_probsolvers_softwareSoftware Tool For More Efficient PMs

PMOptimization from LAI Reliability Systems, is a combination of cutting-edge software and unique processes to develop, optimize and manage your PMs. Optimization is obtained through three dimensions—Primary, Dynamic Failure-Driven and Non-Value-Added—applying a streamlined approach toward generation of RCM results. According to the manufacturer, PM3 leads to the right task, performed by the right skill, at the right interval and at minimal cost, resulting in 40% improvement in labor, 35% in scheduled downtime and 60% in PM parts cost while doubling PM effectiveness. This software tool stands alone or works directly with your CMMS in five languages.

LAI Reliability Systems, Inc. 
Franklin, TN

0608_probsolvers_stockStock Electric Motors & Drives

Baldor’s new 580-page stock products catalog, known as the new 501, details more than 10,000 Baldor·Reliance offerings, including premium effi- ciency, explosion-proof, washdown, severe duty, inverter/vector, farm duty, brake and DC motors, in a range of horsepowers. It also contains a section explaining 100+ common modifications that can be made to customize your motors prior to shipping. Micro drives, controls, gearmotors and gear products, motor accessories, grinders and generators are among the other products featured in the new 501.

Baldor Electric Company
Fort Smith, AR

0608_probsolvers_pumpingPulse-Free Pumping

The Quizix precision pumping systems from AMETEK unit Chandler Engineering offer continuous pulsefree flow or pressure control at the high pressures and temperatures required to optimize critical fluid delivery and extraction applications. Designed to provide years of trouble-free operation, they are capable of delivering or receiving at a constant pressure or flow rate from sub-nano liter/minute to 400 ml/minute at pressures up to 20,000 psi.

Chandler Engineering 
Broken Arrow, OK

0608_probsolvers_torqueNew Rotary Torque Transducers

The Model T1 Torque Coupling Rotary Torque Transducer made by Interface integrates torque measurement with a robust double flex coupling. The coupling and sensor are entirely hollow, allowing the shortest possible distance between the coupled shaft ends. On-board digital electronics provide a ±5V output, low-noise signal. Powered by 12-28V DC, the strain gage-based product offers precision rotary torque measurement in a bearingless, contact-free design. Both smooth and keyed shaft style hubs are available.

Interface, Inc. 
Scottsdale, AZ

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6:00 am
May 1, 2008
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Technology Showcase: Food Grade Lubricants

With so much riding on a processor’s ability to help feed the world, the incorrect choice can be a killer in more ways than one.

0608_techshowcaseHungry for improved reliability and increased profitability in your food processing operations? Proper lubricant selection is crucial to both quality and safety—and your bottom line! With the potential for contact with product (not to mention water, dust, bacteria and other contaminants) strictly regulated lubricants approved for use in food-contact environments are mandatory. The leading suppliers in this showcase make things easier for processors, regardless of specific product, by manufacturing lubricants that are specially designed and approved in the food and pharmaceutical industries.

How sweet it is… New Advanced Synthetic For Tough-To-Reach, High-Temp Applications

Finding the right grease to protect critical components of food processing and industrial equipment that frequently operates in extremely high temperatures is a serious challenge for maintenance professionals around the world. To meet that challenge and improve the reliability of this type of equipment—much of it running in traditionally difficult-to-lubricate processes—ExxonMobil has introduced Mobil SHC Polyrex 462. Formulated with the company’s proprietary polyurea thickener and a high-performance additive technology, this new NLGI 2 synthetic grease is engineered to promote food-safe processing, deliver exceptional equipment performance, reduce maintenance costs and increase productivity. With its ability to provide long-lasting protection for equipment that operates in extreme conditions, including temperatures as high as 160 C (320 F), Mobil SHC Polyrex 462 is an especially attractive option for maintenance organizations that want to minimize the time spent in re-greasing equipment, reduce overall lubricant costs and improve staff efficiency. NSF H1 classified and Kosher/Parve approved for use in food safe processing environments, the product’s polymer-enhanced formulation resists the effects of water from wash-downs to prevent rust formation and unscheduled component replacement. It also exhibits exceptional load-carrying capabilities with an enhanced film thickness to protect metal surfaces from wear-related failures and increase equipment reliability.

According to ExxonMobil, during laboratory tests and extended field trials conducted at a European sugar beet facility, Mobil SHC Polyrex 462 consistently demonstrated excellent lubrication, helping to minimize wear on the critical components of steam dryers that operated under severe temperature and humidity conditions. Moreover, it maintained excellent pumpability for all the facility’s centralized grease systems.

Mobil Industrial Lubricants
Fairfax, VA

Multi-Tasking Synthetic Saves Time & Money

Royal Purple’s Poly-Guard FDA is an anti-wear, longlife, synthetic lubricant that is USDA H-1 approved and meets the FDA CFR Title 21 Section 178.3620(b) purity requirement. According to the manufacturer, Poly- Guard FDA reduces maintenance, improves equipment efficiency and extends equipment life to save you time and money. Suitable for compressors, pumps, gearboxes, bearings, hydraulic systems, blowers and other equipment in food processing or pharmaceutical plants, this multitasking product is available in ISO viscosity grades 15 through 680.

Royal Purple
Porter, TX

A Complete Line Of Specialty Chemicals & Greases

CRC Industries manufactures a complete line of industrial specialty chemicals including several food grade lubricants. NSF H1 Registered for incidental food contact, Food Grade White Grease is a high-purity, highquality synthetic grease designed for high-load applications requiring a long grease life. The lubricant has a wide operating temperature range of 0 F to 450 F. Food Grade Chain Lube is CRC’s aerosol application option where incidental food contact may occur. It is a special blend of synthetic lubricants and mineral oil that inhibits corrosion, reduces load stress and greatly extends chain life and operates up to 325 F.

CRC Industries
Warminster, PA

Hydraulic Fluids For The Food Industry

Houghton’s latest development for the food processing industry is Cosmolubric FG-46. This vegetable-oilbased hydraulic fluid is biodegradable and doesn’t require treatment as hazardous waste. It maintains a low total acid number, high viscosity index, and high flash and fire points. Cosmolubric FG-46 is appropriate for hydraulic equipment used to manufacture snack goods, baked goods, meat and poultry, soft drinks and seafood. Houghton also offers Houghto-Safe® 620-TY, a water glycol fire-resistant hydraulic fluid for food plant operations where there may be fire hazards. Both hydraulic fluids are formulated for use in meat and poultry plants operating under the USDA inspection program.

Houghton International 
Valley Forge, PA

Odorless, Tasteless & Non-Toxic

Full Synthetic Shell Cassida® Fluid GLE (available in ISO 150 and 220) is an odorless, tasteless and non-toxic full synthetic lubricant that is specially designed for various applications in the food and beverage canning industry. The formulation emulsifies water that is essential when used in gear reducers, where contamination from water and juice can cause wear and corrosion to machinery. NSF H-1 registered, the lubricant does not promote the growth of bacteria or fungal organisms and is Kosher and Halal certified. Shell offers a number of other lubricants suitable for the food and beverage industry.

Shell Lubricants 
Houston, TX

Environmentally Safe Metalworking Lubricant

Accu-Lube FG-2000 is a NSF certified natural/vegetable-based metalworking lubricant approved for use in food and medical applications that involve machining, drilling and tapping. This versatile lubricant also is suitable for sawing solids up to 6” in diameter and almost all sizes of tubing. Accu-Lube FG-2000 provides a high level of lubricity to the cutting edge of any tool. Since it is consumed in the cutting process, the need for cleanup and disposal are virtually eliminated. Safe for use on all metals, it is also NSF certified (NSF Reg. NO 137274 Category H1) as safe for incidental food contact. Because it is environmentally friendly, non-toxic and biodegradable, it provides a safer and cleaner work environment for employees.

ITW ROCOL North America 
Glenview, IL

Safe With Virtually All Metals, Plastics & Seal Materials

DuPont™ Krytox® H-1 Food Grade oils and greases offer high lubrication performance for all types of equipment and machinery used to process and package food and pharmaceuticals. Fully compliant with USDA performance standards for incidental contact and certified Kosher, Krytox FG products are safe to use with virtually all metals, plastics and seal materials. According to the company, these lubricants extend lube intervals, reduce downtime and decrease failures from lubricant carbonization, evaporation or other deterioration commonly associated with high-temp conditions. Krytox FG oils and greases also maintain your packaging quality. All products are clear, non-staining and non-migrating.

Wilmington, DE

Lubricants For A High-Level Of Hygienic Production

Total Lubricants USA, formerly known as Keystone Lubricants, has been supplying Nevastane H1 Food Grade Lubricants to the food processing and bottling industries for more than 84 years. Its Nevastane lubricants provide protection and long service life to industrial equipment wherever a high level of hygienic production is required. These food grade lubricants use several technologies, including Synthetics PAO or PAG, semi-synthetics, food grade white oils or silicone. The line includes hydraulic oils, gear lubes, greases, cooker oils, seamer oils, chain lubes and non-aerosol sprays.

Total Lubricants USA, Inc. 
Linden, NJ

Exceeding Performance Specs For Conventional Products

According to Lubriplate, its H-1 Lubricants can help simplify your HACCP program by eliminating lubrication as a potential chemical hazard. Lubriplate NSF H-1 registered products are made in compliance with ISO 21469 guidelines and comply with FDA regulations 21 CFR 178.3570 and 21 CFR 172.882 for lubricants with possible incidental food contact. They also are certified OU Kosher Parve and HALAL registered. Formulated from high-quality base stocks combined with premium, anti-wear additives, these lubricants, the manufacturer notes, exceed many performance specifications of conventional H-2 products.

Lubriplate Lubricants Co. 
Newark, NJ

Protection & Performance In Harsh Food Processes

Lubrication Engineers’ (LE) line of NSF registered H1 and H2 food grade Enhanced Lubricants™ help provide the protection and performance that is needed in harsh food processing conditions. Working with the Kosher Overseers Associates of America (KOAOA), LE has achieved Kosher certification for most of its H1 product line. The products have been certified Kosher-Parve for year-round use, and are allowed to be used in all Kosher food production including meat and dairy processing operations.

Lubrication Engineers, Inc. 
Fort Worth, TX

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6:00 am
May 1, 2008
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Time to fire up your safety program…5 Keys To A Successful Safety Audit

Where do dangers lurk on your plant floor? Uncovering hazards and deficiencies before they become a problem is the first step in reducing risk to people and property.

0608_firesafety_1Awell-executed safety audit program can make a substantial difference in helping companies prevent accidents and injuries. Your company must understand and incorporate key characteristics of a successful audit program. Properly addressing these core areas will help the program deliver maximum impact with minimal risk, while adding value over time.

Key #1: Plan and prepare
To give your audit focus and purpose, identify your goals early by asking these questions:

  • What departments or operations will be covered in the inspection?
  • What items or activities will be checked?
  • How often will inspections be carried out?
  • How will the inspections be conducted?
  • What follow-up activity will there be so corrections are made?

As with any well-functioning management system, an audit program must have written guidelines and procedures to describe how the audit should be conducted and what corrective action should be taken. These procedures should define all audit activities, including planning the audit, onsite activities and follow-up.

Key #2: Define the scope 
Determine whether to conduct a general inspection or targeted inspection. General inspections are comprehensive reviews of all safety and industrial health exposures in a given area or complete factory. Targeted (or special) inspections deal with specific exposures or hazards in a given unit, section or plant. Good audit programs can include both types of inspections.

Key #3: Involve the right people
The success of an audit relies heavily on involving the right people. Variables in the size and type of business, number and expertise of employees, and special hazards and characteristics of each business will dictate which staff members are assigned to the audit program. In many cases, a team approach is used, mixing facility and line managers, supervisors, engineers, operators and staff from other departments. Safety program managers should critically review the audit team makeup for a balance between objectivity and familiarity.

Key #4: Follow through for corrective action 
Identified deficiencies must be assigned to a responsible person and corrected in a reasonable timeframe. In some cases, the deficiency represents a more endemic problem, requiring a more extensive corrective action plan. Followup audits must confirm that the corrective action was satisfactorily completed.

Key #5: Train and educate
Reducing potential risk requires appropriate instruction and training on safety procedures. All employees who may be exposed to the hazards of a machine or process should participate in these training programs, and these programs should be audited. The training agenda and programs must be customized to meet the specific needs of the facility.

Make a lasting impact 
Effective safety audits can be an important component of a successful safety program. To realize the full benefits of an audit program, it’s critical for a company to have the right focus, involve the right people, allocate adequate resources and follow through on corrective actions. If your company has a well-planned and well-executed audit strategy, you will forge a sustainable competitive advantage.

Steve Dukich is a senior application engineer and Mike Duta is manager of Machine Safety Services for Rockwell Automation. For information on Rockwell’s Integrated Safety Systems, visit; for information on the company’s Risk Assessment Services, visit

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6:00 am
May 1, 2008
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LMT News

News of people and events important to the Lubrication Management community


Mark Samolczyk, senior vice president of corporate planning and development for The Timken Company, has assumed the chairmanship of ABMA, the American Bearing Manufacturers Association ( The fourth Timken executive to take on this role, his term will end in March 2009.

Timken has been involved with ABMA since its inception in 1917. Throughout its 91 years of operation, the association has served as the collective voice of the American bearing industry, working with government officials on public policy and international trade matters that affect the ability of bearing makers to compete fairly in a global economic environment. The organization also works to define international standards for bearing products.

During his term, Samolczyk sees the promotion of the bearing industry as one of the organization’s primary opportunities. As chairman, he will also be involved in the continued development of the World Bearing Association (WBA), a group formed in 2006 by ABMA, the Japanese Bearing Industrial Association and the Federation of European Bearing Manufacturers Association. This industry group addresses matters such as the environment, counterfeiting and trade issues within the bearing industry.

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) has announced the 2008 state winners of the U.S. Stockholm Junior Water Prize (SJWP)—the most prestigious youth award for a waterrelated science project. WEF Member Associations selected and will sponsor state winners and their science teachers to attend the national competition, hosted by the Florida Water Environment Association, June 19-21, 2008 in Orlando, fl. (Go for a complete list of state winners.) The purpose of the SJWP program is to increase students’ interest in water-related issues and research and to raise awareness about global water challenges. The competition is open to projects aimed at enhancing the quality of life through improvement of water quality, water resources management, water protection and water and wastewater treatment.

The U.S. winner will receive $3000 (USD) and an allexpense- paid trip to Stockholm, Sweden for the international competition, as well as the opportunity to present his/her research to water quality experts at WEFTEC® 08, the Federation’s 81st annual technical exhibition and conference slated for Chicago, IL this October. In addition, the U.S. winner’s school will receive $1000 toward enhancing science education. Up to three finalists also will receive $1000 each.

In the United States, WEF and its Member Associations organize the national, state and regional SJWP competitions with support from ITT Corporation (also the international sponsor), the Coca-Cola Company and Delta Air Lines.

The international competition takes place in Stockholm during World Water Week, August 17-23. The winner of that competition will receive $5000 (USD) presented during a royal ceremony by the prize’s Patron HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden.

CAGI, the Compressed Air & Gas Institute (, has announced the winners of its first annual student competition, the 2007-2008 National Innovation Awards contest. The invitation-only awards program challenges students to create pioneering designs that use compressed air as the power source for machine tool applications, motion control devices, consumer products or other unique applications. Teams from Virginia Tech, Purdue, the Milwaukee School of Engineering and the University of Minnesota submitted projects that were judged on innovation, marketability and presentation. Team CIRCA (Climbing Inspection Robot with Compressed Air), made up of engineering students from Virginia Tech, won first place. Their project used compressed air to power a serpentine robot designed for inspecting unsafe or hard-to-reach areas such as bridge structures, tall utility poles, or even scaffolding or girders in construction sites. Second place was awarded to Team Turbocharger of Virginia Tech for its Turbocharger Test Stand for use in bearing testing and turbocharger shaft vibration measurement. Honorable mention went to Team Stressed and Compressed of the Milwaukee School of Engineering. Their entry, the Saucer Tosser, accelerates a clay disc through the air with the use of a compressed piston. The Saucer Tosser would be used in clay pigeon shooting.

In its ongoing efforts to provide assistance to students entering the growing international field of occupational safety, health and the environment (SH&E), the American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) Foundation recently announced the names of the 39 recipients of the 2008 annual SH&E scholarships funded by the continued support of corporations, ASSE Regions and Chapters, members and individuals.

The ASSE Foundation is awarding $102,280 in scholarships this year for undergraduate and graduate college students. Scholarship recipients not only will be honored during ASSE’s annual Professional Development Conference (PDC) and Exposition this June in Las Vegas, NV, but some also will have their travel expenses paid for by Foundation supporters, enabling them to participate in this annual professional development conference with safety professionals from more than 35 countries and with more than 200 educational sessions.

For more information, including the list of scholarship winners and supporters, go

The American Consortium for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has announced the opening of nominations for its 2008 Champion of Energy Efficiency Awards that recognize leadership and accomplishment in the energy efficiency field. Winners will be selected based on demonstrated excellence in the following categories:

  • Research and Development (R&D)—Excellence in research and development including baseline or background research, as well as R&D of products and practices.
  • Energy Policy—Excellence in energy policy, including writing, educating, promoting or supporting energy effi- ciency in energy policy, at the federal, state or local level.
  • Implementation and Deployment—Effective design and implementation, including achievement of significant impacts on energy use.
  • Leadership—Exceptional personal leadership demonstrated in the development, implementation or growth of important energy efficiency initiatives.

The 2008 Champions awards will be presented at the 2008 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings in Pacific Grove, CA, scheduled for August 17-22, 2008 at the Asilomar Conference Center. The “Buildings” Summer Study is the premier energy efficiency conference in its field, and draws leading academics, energy efficiency professionals, government representatives, researchers and policymakers. For more details, including information on nominations, nominating forms and how to register for the summer study program, visit (Nominations are due by June 20, 2008.)


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6:00 am
May 1, 2008
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Human Memory Vs. Computerization

Lubrication reliability is an extremely important and complex issue that may not be getting enough attention in many plants. This type of “forgetfulness” can be very costly.

These days, successful manufacturing and process organizations would not dream of running their accounts receivable, accounts payable, inventory control, CRM and a host of other critical functions without the aid of software designed for those specific purposes. Yet, many of these same organizations seem to overlook the fact that running an effective industrial lubrication program is just as complex as these other activities—and one that can significantly benefit through the use of specialized software.

Depending on its product(s) and/or process(es), an industrial operation might run hundreds to thousands of pieces of equipment. Each of these machines and/or systems typically would include multiple component parts—a motor, drive-shaft and couplings, for example—that require lubrication. Multiple lube points per equipment result in thousands upon thousands of individual points to be serviced. But, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Do the math 
Each individual lubrication point within a plant or facility often calls for multiple and differing activities to be performed, each at its own frequency. For instance, proper care of just one lubrication point will require topping off a reservoir each week, drawing a lab sample every quarter and draining and refilling with fresh fluid once a year.

Several thousand lube points in an operation, each with multiple tasks at varying frequencies, could translate into hundreds of thousands of annual activities that need to be performed. Accordingly, to ensure ongoing performance and reliability, it wouldn’t be unusual to find many sites performing over 250,000 lubrication activities each year. In fact, one proactive and successful East Coast paper plant reports performing over 700,000 lubrication activities annually.

Now, though, consider the problem of so many lubrication points spread across a site—that could mean vast expanses of land, numerous buildings, multiple stories, etc. Further complicating such situations is the fact that these various points probably require the application of a wide array of lubricants using the correct and very detailed procedures. How is this daunting task best handled? Too often it’s left, in full or part, to human memory.

Historical approaches
#1. Relying on people…
In many plants, lubrication maintenance personnel who have been tending equipment for decades have developed a thorough understanding of the equipment’s needs. With any luck, these experienced individuals are never sick or on leave. (How realistic, though, is that type of thinking?) Worse yet, what are the consequences when a highly experienced lubrication professional resigns or retires? A missioncritical information asset walks out the door. In turn, a long, tough, costly program devoted to reassembling details and lost knowledge kicks off. Meanwhile, lacking decades of experience, how does the new person on the block possibly lubricate without significant omission?

#2. Relying on spreadsheets…
Another widely used lubrication program management method involves a computer spreadsheet. Typically this comprises a list of equipment along with numerous columns for lubrication-specific data fields such as lube points and type, required lubricant, lubricant capacity and the frequencies at which to perform tasks. While able to convey the basics of what needs to be done and how often, such spreadsheets fail in knowing or communicating what needs to be done and when.

With the simple spreadsheet approach, what’s most often lacking is the tracking of dates last completed—accurately entering this information for each of thousands of rows is an arduous, almost impossible task. Yet, while updating spreadsheets proves difficult, accidental changes and deletions come all too easily.

Knowledge of last-done is the key prerequisite to determining when individual tasks are next-due—without which several all-important questions remain unanswered.

  • What tasks/activities are to be done this week?
  • What tasks/activities were missed last week?
  • What about the hundreds of tasks/activities of longer duration, such as those performed every quarter, every six months or just one time per year?

It’s simply not possible to correctly remember when each task/activity was last completed. Once again the burden for proper lubrication is consigned to human memory.

#3. Relying on standard CMMS/EAM products… 
A third common approach is attempting to properly execute lubrication using the PM system of a CMMS or EAM product. Focused on CM & PM work-order management, these systems perform the role well, and most maintenance professionals are comfortable with their use.

Alas, comfort in a systems’ intended function is far from the best reason to apply it to other uses. Outside the CMMS are hundreds of products supporting additional reliability disciplines such as vibration, IR and others. Why? The work-order-centric design of a CMMS is incapable of supporting the unique data and activity requirements of these disciplines. Understanding that lubrication reliability is a unique discipline is the first step toward gaining its considerable benefits.


As shown in Fig. 1, although CM and PM work orders at a site might total a few thousand annually, the same site typically will require far more lubrication activities per year—ranging to 700,000+ at the East Coast paper plant referenced earlier. The typical CMMS may be able to catalog equipment details at the nameplate level, but these systems lack any clear approach for cataloging the related multiple lubrication points, let alone the multiple activities for each of these points. Also missing are the many data elements regularly found in the previously explained spreadsheets. The fact that these discipline-specific details are missing from the typical CMMS is the main reason such spreadsheets find common use.

This lack of requisite details forces many into a minimalist, work-order level approach to lubrication. Simple monthly PMs are created for each equipment section or area, producing work orders with generic instructions such as “Lubricate stations 1 thru 8,” or “Check Levels in Bldg 12.” (Striving for more detail, one plant of an integrated forest products company was required by management to use a corporate-specified plant-wide asset management system as part of its lubrication program. The plant’s reliability engineer invested months of effort on repetitive keyboard entry of lubrication details into long-text fields. Shortly thereafter, and much to his dismay, it was decided to switch more than 200 reservoirs to synthetic lubricants—which required him to edit each individually. Furthermore, with his hands tied by data locked into non-actionable text-fields, he was forced to answer with a definitive “NO,” when the plant manager asked him if his time and effort had resulted in an accurate and consistent lubrication program.)

Many CMMS products allow for inclusion of a list or block of items with a PM, which can be used to list the lubrication points for an equipment area. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the actual complexities of lubrication cannot be overlooked.

Lubrication points within any equipment area are not identical. For example, their frequency rate will vary, with some being weekly, others quarterly or annually. A single PM can’t really address this fact—resulting in the need for multiple PMs to be created for each equipment area, one per frequency. Equally important to this situation are the lubricant required, number of lubrication points, activity type (top-off, change-out, sample, etc.) and other activityrelated procedures. With the CMMS offering no native support for this information, how is it conveyed using a PM? How many PMs are needed to convey a bare minimum of compulsory details? Remember, give a CMMS more PMs and it will return the favor with increased work orders and paperwork. More importantly, within these numerous work orders and pieces of paper, there is no opportunity to bring optimization and efficiency to lubrication.

Yes, having a multitude of detail deficient lubrication PMs might look and feel good on the surface, but it veils reality with a false sense of security. Once again, details required for success are left to the imagination and memory of lubrication personnel.

What’s done is done. Or is it? Mark a work order as completed and the entire block of lubrication points share the same status. A PM system unable to function below the work-order level can’t remember the relevant—all outstanding lubrication points must somehow be remembered over subsequent weeks until completed. It’s not hard to see this problem will compound week after week. With such reliance upon human memory to ensure proper lubrication, it’s no surprise a recent search across popular CMMS/EAM Websites for the term “lubrication” returned zero pertinent results.

#4. Customizing CMMS/EAM products… 
The fourth and by far the most costly approach is customization of the CMMS/EAM product for lubrication. Gaining rudimentary lubrication capability through this type of customization can consume hundreds of man hours—as was the case with an organization that reportedly spent nearly $1,000,000 USD to modify a management-specified, corporate-wide enterprise management system PM for lubrication- point level of functionality. Even if successful, such customizations can be difficult and expensive to update, with personnel doing original work that often is otherwise assigned or no longer part of the organization. With corporations working to eliminate maintenance of in-house legacy systems, why should lubrication be any different?

Taking a better approach 
In reliability-focused facilities, the old “oil is oil” mentality should no longer suffice. Whatever the case, however, in too many plants lubrication points are still being incorrectly maintained—or worse—missed entirely.

When asked, lubrication managers often say things are going well. With the aforementioned approaches 1-4, though, lube points are being missed no matter how well things are going. Regrettably, you don’t get immediate feedback when a lube point is missed. Often times, it may take months or even years to learn the results of such an oversight—which may come in the form of costly, if not catastrophic, equipment failure and unplanned downtime. If this weren’t so, over 50% of all equipment failures wouldn’t be traced back to poor lubrication practices.

So, this begs the question: Why are the previously described four approaches to lubrication so often employed? Organizations use them for one of three reasons:

  1. The complexities of a well-run lubrication reliability program are misunderstood.
  2. Management fails to calculate the cost of poor lubrication practices.
  3. There is a lack of awareness of preferred alternatives.

What is the net result of primarily relying on human memory? It all boils down to significant cost and loss. This includes unplanned downtime, capital equipment replacement, poor use of human resources and environmental risk—all of which are in addition to poor production quality and excessive energy consumption.

What are the features and benefits of a well-designed lubrication reliability software solution? Headaches and complexities are resolved. All lubrication-specific details are clearly presented to lubrication personnel, ensuring lubrication is done right. That means:

  • The right lubricant is applied in the right place, at the right time, using the right procedure.
  • Abnormal machine conditions are noted, recorded and tracked until such conditions improve.
  • Other important capabilities include consumption tracking and trending, shutdown/outage planning and equipment lockout/tagout.

A good system will incorporate an automatic lube-point/ lube-task-based work release, with individual tasks released as needed, not as blocks of work. It also will automatically push lubrication work assignments to those responsible. This frees maintenance planners from the detail of lubrication so they can focus on PMs and corrective work. In addition, this type of a lubrication reliability system will provide automatic backlog management. Individual lube-tasks, if not complete, are automatically marked past-due and brought forward each week until they are done—with no user intervention required.

0608_lubrication_fig2The best systems also provide for routes on rugged Windows Mobile™ handheld computers (similar to the one shown in Fig. 2). This brings a great deal of efficiency to the system, with information literally at the fingertips of the lubrication specialist. There are no clipboards and no paperwork. Fingertip data collection includes work accomplished, consumption volume and equipment problems and issues, all with no keyboard data entry. Mobile routes also include provisions for positive verification via Bar-Codes or RFID, as desired.

Equally important is a detailed history for each lubepoint and lubrication-specific reporting. Detailed history is required for KPI oversight, as well as for process improvement and failure analysis. This builds accountability with regard to international standards and audit accountability. Lubrication-specific reporting brings forth information at both detailed and management overview levels. Reports are both tabular and graphical, providing instant understanding of program status.

Capturing the benefits
The benefits of using an effective lubrication management software tool are many. One of the most important to a company—especially in an era of dwindling resources and skyrocketing energy costs—can be seen in the area of energy management. Experts note that proper lubrication of equipment can be a major component in reducing energy demands within industrial facilities—by as much as 20%. That’s because using the right lubricant in the right amount consistently reduces friction, thereby lowering the amount of energy required to run the equipment.

Furthermore, by thoroughly addressing improper lubrication— the number one cause of equipment failure—reactive maintenance work decreases and overall plant reliability increases. Plants gain a focused and efficient lubrication reliability program, including footstep reducing lubrication routes. Each route directs the lubrication specialist pointto- point, showing needed information, including detailed procedures. This eliminates the need for numerous PMs and an ongoing, often overwhelming array of printed work orders—resulting in increased reliability and productivity.

In short, a lubrication reliability software solution can:

  • Help cut soaring energy costs
  • Help reduce unplanned downtime
  • Help schedule and direct personnel efficiently
  • Help retain the corporate knowledge asset when trained and experienced employees leave (and they always will)

Best of all, any one of these can quickly save more than the costs of the lubrication reliability solution. With these types of benefits and rapid ROI, it is hard to understand why corporations continue to ignore this profound opportunity for increased competitiveness and profit that an effective lubrication program can provide.

Eric Rasmusson is the president of Generation Systems, Inc., based in Issaquah, WA. E-mail:

About Generation Systems, Inc.

From a scrappy start-up in a Seattle-area garage to a real player on today’s stage…

Founded in 1984, Generation Systems’ primary—and relentless—focus continues to be on enhancing the profit and operational excellence of its customers through the reduction of inadequate lubrication practices. According to the company, its flagship product, LUBE IT, is among the most widely used lubrication reliability software tools available today.

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6:00 am
May 1, 2008
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Part I…How Clean Is The New Oil In Your Equipment? (Who Is Responsible?)

It’s a nagging, industry-wide question, and one that keeps many a supplier and end user up at night.


0608_newoil_1In the multi-step process of moving lubricants from THEIR tanks to YOUR equipment, where does contamination start? At what point do dirt and/or moisture enter the supply chain? Is it a problem with storage, handling, dispensing or a combination? This three-part series aims to answer these questions once and for all. Based on studies of actual field data of the cleanliness of new oil put into equipment, it will provide recommendations on how to more effectively guarantee cleanliness in the future. A continuing theme in this series will be the fact that it takes a strong, cooperative effort among lubricant supplier, distributor/marketer and end user for any oil cleanliness program to be successful (see Fig. 1).

Most lubricants purchased today come from a distributor and are delivered in the following ways:

  • Bulk shipments from the lube blending plant delivered directly to the customer
  • Bulk shipments from stored lubricants at the distributor
  • Drums and pails filled at the blend plant and delivered by distributor
  • Drums and pails filled at distributor from oil in tankage

0608_newoil_fig1How the lubricant is delivered by the distributor will have a major impact on oil cleanliness.

The lubricant blender also plays a key role in oil cleanliness. Typically, turbine and hydraulic oils are sent out of the blend plant at a cleanliness of 19/17/14. Once it is put in trucks or drums, the delivered oil will not be as clean. (One major manufacturer that is filtering hydraulic oil and putting it in new sealed steel drums, however, is achieving a cleanliness rating of 14/11/9. There is a cost for this procedure, but customers know they will receive very clean hydraulic oil as a result of it.)

Some companies may require special handling of their oils. A case in point is General Electric, which has a minimum cleanliness rating for turbine oils of 16/13. This is achieved by delivering filtered turbine oil to GE in a dedicated bulk truck. Lubricant suppliers are providing this service either directly from the blend plant or through filtration at the distributor.

The end user also has a responsibility to maintain oil cleanliness. Oil can become dirty very quickly if it is not handled or dispensed properly. The customer needs to cooperate closely with the lube blender and distributor to develop a program achieving targeted oil cleanliness levels economically. Scope of this study In our study, new lubricants are being evaluated for two major contaminants: particles and water. All laboratory test work is being conducted by MRT Laboratories, an ISO 17025-2005 certified laboratory in Houston, TX. The following tests are being performed:

  • Viscosity @ 40 C
  • Karl Fischer Water Determination
  • ISO 4406 Particle Count
  • Emission Spectroscopy

0608_newoil_fig2The following samples were purchased from four major lubricant manufacturers for evaluation:

  • ISO 32 turbine oil
  • ISO 46 AW hydraulic oil
  • ISO 220 EP gear oil
  • ISO 100 R&O oil

As shown in Fig. 2, the lubricant flow through a distributor operation is being examined for both water and particle contamination. The major focus will be on turbine and hydraulic oils. Fluid cleanliness will be examined at each stage to determine the effect of storage and handling on contamination.

The final phase of the study will be focusing on end user handling of lubricants. Very clean fluid can be delivered to the plant, but without proper handling all efforts for clean oil are wasted.

Lubricants at several end-use facilities will be examined to determine the introduction of contaminants at the various stages of lubricant dispensing (as indicated by Fig. 3). The use of filters and filter carts in the achieving of fluid cleanliness targets also will be examined.


After all study data is collected, recommendations will be made on the optimum way to achieve fluid cleanliness in the most economical way. Subsequent installments in this series will address best practices for lubricant blenders, distributors and end users.

ISO 4406: 1999 Cleanliness Code
Cleanliness will be measured by the use of an optical laser counter that measures the number and size of various particles. Although this procedure was discussed thoroughly in a previous article on oil cleanliness (see pgs. 34-35, Lubrication Management & Technology, September/October 2007), it will be reviewed here.

The data in Table I are used to assign a cleanliness code number for a fluid:


The particle sizes measured are= 4 micron, = 6 micron and = 14 micron. The number of particles are measured with a particle counter and recorded by size per milliliter of fluid. Take, for example, a fluid with the following particle count:

= 4 micron = 8500/ml 
= 6 micron = 1650/ml
= 14 micron = 300/ml

The shorthand notation according to ISO 4406:1999 would be 20/18/15 for this fluid. A lower number represents a cleaner fluid. Note, too, that a one-number increase in the cleanliness code represents a doubling in the number of particles. The other articles in this three-part series will utilize this code to represent fluid cleanliness.

Oil cleanliness is a very timely topic. Many end users today are demanding cleaner oil without understanding the costs involved. The next articles will address the issue of the cleanliness of oil currently supplied and best practices to assure that the oil will be clean when put into the equipment. The relationship between the lubricant supplier, distributor and end user needs to be cooperative and not adversarial. They all need to work with one another to assure clean oil at an economical cost.

Realistic cleanliness goals need to be established by equipment type before any program is implemented. A total program needs to be established, including the use of proper filtration when the fluid is in the equipment. This filtration also has been discussed in a previous article (pgs. 8-12, Lubrication Management & Technology, November/December 2007). Like everything else, effective filtration requires a strong cooperative effort between the end user and the filter manufacturer.

The second installment in this series will appear in the July/August issue of Lubrication Management & Technology.

Contributing editor Ray Thibault is based in Cypress (Houston), TX. An STLE-Certified Lubrication Specialist and Oil Monitoring Analyst, he conducts extensive training in a number of industries. Telephone: (281) 257-1526; e-mail

Mark Graham is technical services manager for O’Rourke Petroleum in Houston, TX. Telephone: (713) 672-4500; e-mail:

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6:00 am
May 1, 2008
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Part I. Using Oil Mist On Electric Motors

Despite being an accepted method of lubrication in countless reliability-focused process plants around the globe, questions about this technology continue to surface.


In early 2008, two widely read U.S. trade journals carried articles on grease lubrication of electric motors. Neither article mentioned oil mist lubrication, probably because the scope of the articles was, of course, grease lubrication. Failing to mention oil mist as a reasonable alternative for modern process plants, though, is somewhat like aiming an article about the repair of belted automobile tires at today’s drivers—as another publication recently did. Belted tires were great for a 1950 Chevrolet, but what savvy car owner is using them on his/her vehicle today?

Dry sump oil mist on electric motors is not new technology. In the mid-1960s, oil mist—a mixture of 200,000 volume parts of clean and dry plant or instrument air with one part of lubricating oil—gained acceptance as the ideal lubricant application method on rolling element electric motor bearings in several major United States oil refineries. Since then, this lubrication method has gained further acceptance at hundreds of reliability-focused process plants in this country and overseas. As of the late 1990s, many thousands of electric motors were being lubricated by dry sump oil mist (Fig. 1).


However, while taking at least some steps to become more profitable through increased equipment reliability, the majority of process plants have not yet abandoned their traditional costly repair-focus. Along these lines, questions and concerns relating to oil mist that had been answered decades ago are again surfacing today. The reasons are not always clear and may even be difficult to comprehend. Nevertheless, these questions are being asked and should be answered by open discussion.

This overview deals with considerations that have allowed oil mist lubrication to improve the reliability and energy efficiency of electric motors. It is not meant to dissuade plants from using grease lubrication, if that’s their choice and preference. But, it will discuss what’s out there if an operation is truly reliability-focused and wishes to understand proven best available technology.

In this series, particular emphasis will be placed on industry practices relating to oil mist lubrication of explosion- proof electric motors. The article is not intended to bypass compliance with regulatory edicts as they might relate to explosion-proof motors and might have to be adhered to regardless of merit. Be this as it may, these articles will be laying out the facts as they exist in 2008 and asking readers to draw the right conclusions for themselves.

Documented wide application range
For the past 44 years, empirical data have been employed to screen the applicability of oil mist. The influences of bearing size, speed and load have been recognized in an oil mist applicability formula, limiting the parameter “DNL” to values below 10E9, or 1,000,000,000. Here, D = bearing bore, mm; N = inner ring rpm; and L = load, lbs. An 80 mm electric motor bearing operating at 3600 rpm and a load of 600 lbs would thus have a DNL of 172,000,000—less than 18% of the allowable threshold value. The vast majority of electric motors equipped with rolling element bearings can thus be served by dry sump oil mist.

Although major grass-roots olefins plants commenced using oil mist on motors as small as 1 hp (0.75 kW) decades ago, the prevailing practice among smart reliability-focused users is to apply oil mist lube on horizontal motors, 10 kW and larger, and vertical motors of approximately 3 kW and larger, fitted with rolling element bearings. Note that oil mist serves not only to lubricate the bearings of operating machines, but also protects and preserves the bearings of non-operating (spare or standby) equipment. This is hugely important in humid and dust-laden (desert) environments.

In the 1960s, it was customary to apply oil mist near the center of the bearing housing, letting the excess mist vent to the atmosphere after passing through the bearings. More recently, and in accordance with the recommendations of API- 610 8th and later editions governing centrifugal pumps in the petrochemical and refining industries, the oil mist has been routed through the bearings. The oil mist enters at a convenient location between the bearing housing protector (bearing isolator or end seal) and bearing (see Fig. 2). The metering orifice (reclassifier) may or may not be incorporated in the end cap as shown here, although locating it close to the bearing is considered advantageous.


Originally intended for centrifugal pumps, the recommendations of API-610 have worked equally well for electric motors with rolling element bearings. The resulting diagonal through-flow route shown in Fig. 2 guarantees adequate lubrication, whereas oil mist per Fig. 3, entering at the top of the bearing housing and exiting directly below,might:

  • Cause some of the oil mist to leave at the drain port, without first wetting the rolling elements (Ref. 1).
  • Inadvertently be kept away from the rolling elements due to windage, or fan effects, generated by certain inclined bearing cage configurations.

It is acknowledged that a few “business-as-usual” oil mist users continue to be satisfied with routing the oil mist from the top of the bearing housing to the bottom of the same housing (Fig. 3). Nevertheless, it can be shown that highly-loaded bearings and bearings operating at high speeds must use the API-recommended routing of Fig. 2. A risk-averse user thus recognizes throughflow as one of the key ingredients of successful oil mist implementations. No less a company than Siemens A.G. has published technical bulletins showing oil mist as a superior technique for electric motors ranging in size from 18 to 3000 kW (Ref. 2).

It can be stated without reservation that through-flow oil mist addresses the above concerns and will accommodate all of the lubrication needs of electric motors furnished with rolling element bearings (see above).

Flow requirements explained 
The required volume of oil mist is often translated into bearing-inches, or “BI’s.” A bearing-inch is the volume of oil mist needed to satisfy the demands of a row of rolling elements in a one-inch (~25 mm) bore diameter bearing. One BI assumes a rate of mist containing 0.01 fl. oz., or 0.3 ml, of oil per hour. Certain other factors may have to be considered to determine the needed oil mist flow. These are known to experienced oil mist providers and bearing manufacturers. The various factors also are well-documented in numerous references and include:

  1. Type of bearing… the different internal geometries of different types of contact (point contact at ball bearings and linear contacts at roller bearings), amount of sliding contacts (between rolling elements and raceways, cages, flanges or guide rings), angle of contact between rolling elements and raceways, and prevailing load on rolling elements. The most common bearing types in electrical motors are deep groove ball bearings, cylindrical roller bearings and, occasionally, angular contact ball bearings.
  2. Number of rows of rolling elements… multiple row bearing or paired bearing arrangements require a simple multiplier to quantify the volume of mist flow.
  3. Size of the bearings… related to the shaft diameter— inherent in the expression “bearing-inches.”
  4. The rotating speed… the influence of the rotating speed should not be considered as a linear function. It can be linear for a certain intermediate speed range, but at lower and higher speeds the oil requirements in the contact regions may behave differently.
  5. Bearing load conditions… (preload, minimum or even less than minimum load, heavy axial loads, etc.)
  6. Cage design… Different cage designs might affect mist flow in different ways. It has been reasoned that stamped (pressed) metal cages, polyamide cages or machined metal cages might produce different degrees of turbulence.

Fortunately, industrial experience shows that no further investigations are needed for bearings in the operating speed and size ranges encountered by motors driving process pumps.

As of 2008, several thousands of oil mist lubricated electric motors continue to operate flawlessly in reliability-focused user plants. Moreover, a 2004 survey of these plants confirmed that their procurement specifications for new installations and replacement motors require oil mist lubrication in sizes 15 hp and larger. The largest motor with oil mist lubricated rolling element bearings had a nameplate rating of 1250 hp (933 kW). Questions as to whether different rates of turbulence cause different amounts of oil to “plate out” on the various bearing components are thus of academic interest only.

Sealing and drainage issues 
Although oil mist will not attack or degrade the winding insulation found on electric motors made since the mid- 1960s, mist entry and related sealing issues must be understood and merit discussion.

Regardless of motor type, i.e. TEFC, X-Proof or WP II, cable terminations should never be made with conventional electrician’s tape. The adhesive in this tape will last but a few days and become tacky to the point of unraveling. Instead of inferior products, competent motor manufacturers use a modified silicone system (“Radix”) that is highly resistant to oil mist. Radix has consistently outperformed the many other “almost equivalent” systems.

Similarly, and while it must always be pointed out that oil mist is neither a flammable nor explosive mixture, it would be prudent not to allow a visible plume of mist to escape from the junction box cover. The wire passage from the motor interior to the junction box should, therefore, be sealed with a product such as 3M Scotch-Cast Two-Part Epoxy potting compound to exclude oil mist from the junction box. As mentioned earlier, the volumetric ratio of oil to air is 0.000005. The weight ratio of oil to air is 0.00035. The lower volumetric explosive limits of heptane and hexane are approximately 0.01 (Ref. 3). Another source gives the lower explosive limit of oil in air at 0.035 by weight (Ref. 4).

TEFC vs. WP ll construction 
On TEFC (totally enclosed, fan-cooled) motors, there are documented events of liquid oil filling the motor housing to the point of contact with the spinning rotor. Conventional wisdom to the contrary, there were no detrimental effects, and the motor could have run indefinitely! TEFC motors are suitable for oil mist lubrication by simply routing the oil mist through the bearing, as has been explained in Ref. 1 and numerous other references, including the more recent editions of API-610. No special internal sealing provisions are needed.

On weather-protected (WP II) motors, merely adding oil mist has often been done in the field, and occasionally even with the motor in operation. These on-the-run modifications have generally worked surprisingly well. In this instance, however, it was found important to lead the oil mist vent tubing away from regions influenced by the motor fan. Still, WP II electric motors do receive additional attention from reliability-focused users and knowledgeable motor manufacturers.

Air is constantly being forced through the windings and an oil film deposited on the windings could invite dirt accumulation to become objectionable. To reduce the risk of dirt accumulation, suitable means of sealing should be provided between the motor bearings and the motor interior. Since V-rings and other elastomeric shaft-contacting seals may be subject to wear, low-friction face-contacting seals based on mechanical seal technology are considered desirable. The axial closing force on these seals could be provided either by springs or small permanent magnets.

As is so often the case, the user has to make choices. Low friction axial seals (face seals) are offered by several manufacturers. Some of these may require machining of the cap, but long motor life and the avoidance of maintenance costs will make up for the added expense. Nevertheless, double V-rings using Nitrile or Viton elastomeric material should not be ruled out since they are considerably less expensive than face seals. Certain rotating labyrinth seal designs with axially contacting O-rings were introduced in early 2005 and offer another possible option.

Sealing to avoid stray mist
Even when still accepted by prevailing environmental regulations (e.g. OSHA or EPA), the regulatory and “good neighbor climate” will sooner or later force industry to curtail stray oil mist emissions. Of equal importance and to set the record straight, it must again be noted that state-of-art oil mist systems are now fully closed, i.e. are configured so as not to allow any mist to escape. In the late 1980s, the author collaborated with a California-based engineering contractor in the implementation of two plant-wide systems in Kentucky. As of 2008, these systems have continued to operate flawlessly and have even been expanded. The owner company has added another fully closed system at its refinery in Minnesota and is planning to convert existing, open systems to closed systems.

It should be noted that combining effective seals and a closed oil mist lubrication system is a proven solution. Application per Fig. 2 eliminates virtually all stray mist and oil leakage, but makes possible the recovery, subsequent purifi- cation and re-use of perhaps 97% of the oil. These recovery rates make the use of more expensive, superior-quality synthetic lubricants economically attractive. Needless to say, closed systems and oil mist-lubricated electric motors give reliability-focused users several important advantages:

  • Compliance with actual and future environmental regulations
  • Convincing proof that closed oil mist lubrication systems exist that won’t put avoidable stress on the environment
  • The technical and economic justification to apply energysaving, long-lasting, high-performance synthetic oils

Optimized energy efficiency 
To capture energy efficiency credits, lubricants with suitably low viscosity must be used in combination with the correct volume of mist. Moreover, and as mentioned above, low-friction seals are desired on WP II motors.

PAO and diester lubricants embody most of the properties needed for extended bearing life and greatest operating efficiency. These oils excel in the areas of bearing temperature and friction energy reduction. It is not difficult to show relatively rapid returns on investment for these lubricants, providing, of course, the system is closed and the lubricant re-used after filtration.

Again, very significant increases in bearing life and overall electric motor reliability have been repeatedly documented over the past four or five decades.

Contributing Editor Heinz Bloch is the author of 17 comprehensive textbooks and more than 340 other publications on machinery reliability and lubrication. He can be contacted at:

1. Bloch, Heinz P., and Alan Budris, (2006), Pump User’s Handbook: Life Extension, Fairmont Press, Inc., Lilburn, GA, 30047; ISBN 0-88173-517-5, pp. 265-290.

2. Bloch, Heinz P., and Abdus Shamim, (1998), Oil Mist Lubrication: Practical Applications, Fairmont Press, Inc., Lilburn, GA, 30047; ISBN 0-88173-256-7, Fig. 9-7, p.109.

3. Shelton, Harold L., “Estimating the Lower Explosive Limits of Waste Vapors,” Environmental Engineering, May-June 1995, pp. 22-25.

4. Lilly, L.R.C., (1986), Diesel Engine Reference Book, Butterworth & Co, London, U.K., ISBN 0-408-00443-6, p. 21/3.

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