Machinery Lubrication / Predictive Maintenance / Preventive Maintenance

The latest in lubrication tech

Sheila Kennedy says new tools make lubrication measurement and management more frictionless.

By Sheila Kennedy, CMRP, contributing editor

Innovative lubricant application and quality management tools, modern formulations, and intuitive software can help mitigate common lubrication challenges – and in so doing, improve the reliability and safety of critical equipment.

Tools to prevent common lube problems

Accuracy is needed in reservoir refilling to avoid wasteful overfilling. The G3 Lubrication Pump from Graco now has an auto-fill shutoff (AFSO) feature, making it easier and more convenient to refill reservoirs that are difficult to reach or see.

Darker greases often cling to the inside of the reservoir and obscure the actual height of the grease, explains Brandon Gustafson, engineering manager at Graco’s Lubrication Equipment Division. The AFSO feature, when used with a pneumatic fill pump, automatically shuts off when the reservoir is full. “The system also includes the ability to compensate for thermal expansion should reservoir fill take place at a cooler temperature than during normal operation,” he adds.

Compact single-point lubricators such as simalube from simatec are ideal in areas where space is at a premium. Simalube provides a consistent supply of grease or oil in pre-adjusted proportions to bearings or other moving parts. The product range now includes a 15ml size in addition to 30ml, 60ml, 125ml, and 250ml options.

“The simalube 15ml is the smallest automatic single-point lubricator available,” says Clark Benfield, senior technical adviser at simatec. “In cases where mounted bearings give little access for manual lubrication, the 15ml offers maintenance personnel a unique solution to control the process of regreasing.”

Breathers protect lubricants from moisture and particulates to keep them running clean and dry. Patent-pending IsoLogic sensor technology from Des-Case, available inside the company’s VentGuard breathers, monitors breather status and detects and records spikes in humidity and water ingress.

Pairing a VentGuard connected desiccant breather with Des-Case’s IsoLogic app provides a system that displays data such as current breather status, saturation direction, breather temperature, and battery life in an interactive dashboard.

High-longevity chemistry

Extending the life of turbine oil helps to reduce turbine downtime, improve reliability, and decrease total cost of ownership. Because oxidation and thermal degradation are primary causes of in-service turbine oil degradation, Lubrication Engineers developed a turbine oil varnish test to study the oxidative behavior of new turbine oils in an accelerated oxidative environment.

“We have spent years researching how to combat oxidative and thermal degradation of gas turbine oils,” says Wade Flemming, laboratory manager at Lubrication Engineers. “The result of that extensive research is our new Endure Turbine Oil, which provides exceptionally long service life and inhibits varnish formation.”

Infinity Turbine Oil from Fluitec International is designed to be the first “Fill-for-Life” oil on the market, says Greg Livingstone, chief innovation officer at Fluitec. It is “formulated to not form any deposits during use,” he says. “In addition, the additive system can be refortified, allowing for extremely long service life.”

The proprietary additive system captures and neutralizes degradation products to prevent deposit formation, which means no varnish mitigation equipment or oil flushes are needed. Antioxidant replenishment is conducted in-service with Fluitec’s Boost AO technology.

Lube management software

Maintenance management software facilitates preventive and predictive lubrication tasks. The latest release of LUBE-IT lubrication management and reliability software from Generation Systems includes new-trouble notification and management as well as EAM/CMMS integration capabilities.

“A small production facility containing 500 pumps, 30 fans, and 30 conveyors will aggregate 36,700 tasks consuming 2,576 man-hours per year using LUBE-IT,” says Mike Johnson, principal consultant at AMRRI, a lubrication service provider. AMRRI uses LUBE-IT “to stay on top of our most important routine machine care requirements, because it is absolutely necessary to have an effective time and task management tool,” Johnson says.

Software specific to conveyor chain applications is available from Mighty Lube Systematic Lubrication. The Mighty Lube Next Generation Conveyor Monitoring System and its software offer continuous monitoring of conveyor chain wear and vitals such as air pressure, amps, and drive speed. The system can be expanded to include lubrication features such as lubrication cycle monitoring.

The insight of digital information gives manufacturers complete visibility of their conveyor chains to avoid costly downtime, explains Anthony Brown, vice president at Mighty Lube USA Sales Inc. “With internal data being stored daily, we analyze and formulate projections of the life of the chain,” he says.