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Tactics to Prevent Machine Failure

GTI Predictive Technology presents the fifth in our series, Top 6 Tactics to Prevent Machine Failure.

Lubrication

“When it comes to oil analysis and lubrication, it goes without saying that execution beats brilliance.” -Jim Fitch

Lubrication is huge. Lubrication is used in rotating equipment to reduce friction between surfaces, prevent corrosion and wear and prevent contamination from outside sources. The proper lubricant at the proper schedule will allow the bearing to achieve its expected life and protect the inside of the machine from contaminants. This can be especially important in pumps where we don’t want contaminants in whatever we are pumping.

Too often we hear that if a little lubrication is good, then a lot is great. In truth, over lubrication is just as bad as under lubrication. Ask any motor shop and they will tell you that many of the failed motors they get in for repair are packed end to end with grease. In the end, as most electric motors are air-cooled, they just overheat and die. Training is paramount for proper lubrication. The wrong type of lubricant is just as bad as too much or too little. Machines should be tagged (color codes work well) with the type of lubricant required, the lubrication schedule and/or frequency and the amount of lubricant to be added each time. 

The commitment with lubrication is to document the lubrication requirements of your machines and commit to a lubrication schedule. Lubrication technicians need to know the requirements and schedule of the machines for which they are responsible. Most machines come with this information. It is also included with bearings, so if you change the bearing type, you may have to change your lubrication process for that machine. Keep good records and know what the requirements are for each machine and bearing. Document the type, amount and frequency of lubrication for every machine.

More advanced lubrication programs will add ultrasound to their lubrication process. The consistent use of ultrasound in a lubrication program – from baseline to route based activities - will allow the bearing to tell you when it wants to be lubricated, a condition-based response instead of a time based response. An ultrasound tool used during lubrication will tell you when there is enough lubrication and prevent over-lubrication – the #1 cause of bearing failure. This is another tool that requires training, documentation and commitment. 

Thanks for your attention!  

Stay tuned for part 6 or download the entire article now!

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