The fine art of lubrication

At many industrial facilities, the task of equipment lubrication is often assigned to mechanics with little or no lubrication training. These mechanics are handed a grease gun and told to lubricate the points on a particular line or maybe the entire plant. Undoubtedly, lubricating equipment is an important task, not only enabling the mechanic to become familiar with the plant’s equipment but also helping to increase bearing life. However, it is the way the task is performed that will have the biggest effect.

More than 35% of bearing failures can be attributed to improper lubrication and an enthusiastic but untrained mechanic with a grease gun is more than likely to cause premature bearing failures due to over-greasing than under-greasing.

Over-greasing a bearing causes the rollers or balls to slide along the race instead of turning, causing the grease to churn, which eventually bleeds the base oil from the grease. All that is left to lubricate the bearing is a thickener with little or no lubricating properties. The heat generated from this churning combined with insufficient lubricating oil causes the grease to harden, which prevents any new grease added to the bearing from reaching the rolling elements. So while giving a bearing several extra pumps from a grease gun might seem like a logical thing to do, it actually results in bearing failure and equipment downtime due to under-lubrication.

The key to preventing the over-lubrication of bearings is to make sure all maintenance personnel are trained on lubrication techniques, including how to determine the correct amount of grease to pump into a bearing. Establishing a sound overall maintenance programme that includes lubrication intervals for each machine will not only drive down maintenance costs but also significantly reduce unplanned downtime.

Grease formula
G     =   0.114 x D x B
G     =   Correct amount of grease in ounces
D     =   The outside diameter in inches
B     =   The bearing width in inches

About Southern Lubricants

Southern Lubricants has been the leading lubricant supplier in the Southwest of England for more than 30 years.  Our expert and technical knowledge combined with our ability to source all major brands of lubricants, means that we can provide a solution to all your lubricant needs.  While our roots are firmly based in the Southwest, we have customers all over the UK who use us for our technical expertise, superior service and ability to be a single-source supplier.