Ultrasound Lubrication Management Program Philosophy

Poor greasing practices are a leading cause of bearing failure. Less than 60% of bearings will last long enough to deliver their engineered value and over or under lubrication is most often to blame.

“Always remember that OIL IN MACHINE IS LIKE BLOOD IN HUMAN BODY– So, keep it clean and free from any contamination.

Tribology

Equipment failure can be caused by many factors, but the knowledge of lubrication principles, equipment operation and understanding the science behind lubricated surface contacts are keys to develop a good lubrication program and avoid lubrication related failures. It is necessary to understand the functioning of all pieces of equipment as well as operating conditions to be able to determine the appropriate type of lubricant along with the right application. The most common lubricated machine elements are gears (spur, ring, helical, worm, hypoid, bevel), bearings (rolling element bearings, plain journal bearings), piston rings, cylinder liners, cams and followers. The geometry of these elements and the operating conditions are critical in defining the proper lubrication regime, the proper lubricant requirements, lubrication interval and method of lubrication.

The Stribeck Curve is very useful to understand the relation between oil film thickness and friction. In the figure below, the Stribeck curve illustrates the case of a bearing under the 3 lubrication regimes analyzed

 It is a simple fact: Good Machine Lubrication can lead to energy savings and an improved corporate profitability.

LUBRICATION AND ENERGY SAVINGS

It is possible to measure energy savings in a variety of ways, including production output, temperature changes or reduction in electrical energy consumption. Another measurement is maintenance costs and fuel consumption.

Production output

When using any mechanical equipment, it is possible to evaluate the equipment‟s energy efficiency by recoding its production output. For example, if a machine is capable of producing a certain number of parts in a given amount of time and the lubricant is kept clean as per recommended cleanliness standards and lubrication systems are improved. This shall be resulting in a higher volume of production in the same amount of time, than the machine has become more energy efficient and productive.

Temperature Changes

Monitoring temperature changes is another way to optimize lubrication programme performance. Increased friction in a machine moving parts results in higher operating temperatures. Friction is a result of metal-to-metal contact that occurs between two surfaces moving relative to another. Even between highly machined surfaces, under microscopic view, asperity contact occurs.

The greater the amount of metal to metal contact, the greater is the amount of friction. As a result, more energy is required to move the surfaces relative to one another. This friction results in higher electrical power costs. Lubricants and good lubrication system can reduce that friction. Therefore, when friction is reduced, less electricity is required to drive a gearbox, compressor, pump or other equipment, and this leads to Energy Conservation in the Industry.

Electrical Energy reduction

Tracking electrical consumption is a highly reliable way to evaluate improvements in plant energy use. In fact, various organizations have been able to document improvements in electrical energy efficiency after implementation of lubrication management programmes. Companies that upgrade their lubrication and reliability practices have been able to document a 5 – 10% reduction in power consumption, more than enough to pay for implementing good lubrication programme by professional service providers. Average documented savings were 10% in gear boxes, 12% in air compressors and 4% in electric motors.

LUBRICANT FORMULATION

All lubricants consist of Base Oil of required Viscosity, blended with special chemicals called “Additives”. These additives are carefully selected by the Oil Suppliers, keeping in view the end use application – such as Engine Oils, Gear Oils, Transmission Oil, Hydraulic Oils, Compressor Oils, etc.

A lot of research work is done by the oil companies before oil is approved for an application. All lubricants are approved by OEMS after field tests under stringent test conditions. Lots of research work is done by oil companies and OEM before a lubricant is approved to be offered to users or reach the market. However, just buying an expensive lubricant also does not ensure maximum lubricant performance and energy savings. The lubricant must be the right one for the application and must be properly maintained for its quality in order for it to provide maximum machine performance.

So, how does the end-user know what to do?

The answer is to adopt to  Lubrication Management Program (LMP).

The basic  recommended parameters of  LMP  implementation are:

  1. Select correct grade and viscosity of lubricants for the specific application and ensure this grade has OEM acceptance.
  2. Store oil in good environment to keep oil uncontaminated in storage. Greases should be stored indoors to avoid day/night temperature fluctuations. This can lead to soap-oil separation, making grease unfit for usage. Good house-keeping at lubricants storage is the most important and is at fulcrum of entire activity.
  3. Adopt color coding to eliminate any possibility of mix-up in oils leading to contamination.
  4. Use good and clean lubrication equipment to ensure feeding uncontaminated lubricants to machines.
  5. Keep oil clean by providing “Breathers” on machines oil sump and inspect oil filters on machines oil systems regularly.
  6. Test oils regularly for oil condition and machine condition, i.e. contamination, additive depletion, wear debris and elemental analysis, etc.
  7. Regular Training to Lubrication staff for correct lubrication techniques. All lubrication staff should be in skilled category.
  8. Enforce excellent house-keeping at oil storage, handling and dispensing area.
  9. Keep oil points at machine „clean‟ to ensure that no dust or dirt particles go in the machine sump along with oil.
  10. Adopt target based oil management system. Ensure that atleast 95% oil is drained out from the sump, before feeding new oil into the sump, failing which, may be adding new oil into „muck‟ in the oil sump or machine system.

“Always remember that OIL IN MACHINE IS LIKE BLOOD IN HUMAN BODY– So, keep it clean and free from any contamination.

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