Lubrication solutions and services to simplify best practices

March 8, 2021
Sheila Kennedy explores lubrication tools for new realities.

The unique events of 2020 heightened the demand for lubrication efficiencies and remote processes. Solution providers responded with tools for remote condition monitoring, remote on-command lubrication, automatic lubrication, subscription-based diagnostic monitoring, and streamlined program and task management. Lubricant products and training methods also continue to evolve.

About the Author: Sheila Kennedy

Remote process enablement

With COVID-19 amplifying the need to balance employee health with operational continuity, solutions, such as OnTrak SmartLube from UE Systems, were developed. The remote prescriptive bearing monitoring and lubrication solution allows users to remotely monitor bearing friction and perform lubrication from a software application on any supported device. It leverages ultrasound technology and a learning engine that provides automated suggestions to help automate remote lubrication tasks.

“If we have learned anything, it is that remote enablement is not a fleeting concept,” says Blair Fraser, global director of online solutions at UE Systems. “The OnTrak SmartLube is going to help a lot of businesses that are looking to help floor-level employees improve their effectiveness without having to spend unnecessary time in their physical locations.”

The G-Mini pump from Graco is a compact automatic lubrication pump with a rugged IP69K rating that brings the advantages of large-scale automatic lubrication systems to small-scale applications, such as off-road equipment, wind turbines, plant equipment, and vehicles.

The compact pump “complements our G1 and G3 Series lubrication pumps and is offered with an optional built-in, easy-to-program digital controller,” says Andrew Gerlach, Graco’s lubrication equipment division product manager. “This is also our first lubrication pump designed with an optional built-in heater that automatically turns on at low temperatures, allowing it to pump NLGI #2 grease as low as -40 °C/F.”

The new We Monitor service from Des-Case is a remote diagnostic monitoring solution for lubricated assets for companies that may be short on time, knowledge, or resources in-house. The full-service, monthly subscription plan helps to “protect industrial assets from lubrication-related failures.”

Included in the We Monitor package are remote lubrication monitoring and data analysis services from Des-Case experts; edge gateways to bring data to the cloud; connected desiccant breathers and replacement cartridges; lubrication training and consulting; and access to the Des-Case IsoLogic software platform. Additional sensor options are available.

Industrial lubrication program designer AMRRI joined forces with Generation Systems Inc. (GSI), creator of LUBE-IT software, to connect detailed machine lubrication work plans with the lube task management software. Mike Johnson, president of both companies, explains the objective is to provide management with the means to see clearly what is getting done – and what is getting missed – in the completion of daily essential care activities.

“We see growing interest in migrating from generic lubrication practices toward machine-specific instruction sets, and managing those instruction sets with software that will assure that all work is well and efficiently executed,” observes Johnson. “As the quality of information increases, the desire to see more resolution increases, and the effectiveness of work management improves.”

Lubricant and learning upgrades

Lubricant product development is ongoing, as illustrated in the latest Emerging Issues and Trends Report published by the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers (STLE) in 2020. Neil Canter, advanced innovation team (AIT) editor for STLE, says the report showcases “efforts underway to make lubricants more sustainable through sourcing them from renewable resources and from recycling. A latter example is the growing use of re-refined base stocks in lubricants.”

The report also observes that the lubricant industry is positioned to provide new products that will enhance the performance of robots in the plant environment. Better technologies are also in place to continuously monitor lubricants as they operate in plants, adds Canter.

Training tools are likewise improving. 5th Order Industry takes a scientific approach to competency development for industrial professionals, including its Lubricant.Training curriculum of courses and exam preparations for STLE and ICML machinery lubrication certifications. When COVID-19 compelled President Michael Holloway to retool for online training, he began building a customized online learning system geared specifically to the individual’s learning style and comprehension path.

“Students are not only passing exams, but they are able to retain the content and use it in very creative ways. When you learn, retain, and apply the content, you have developed competency. With competency comes confidence,” Holloway explains. His current research focus is neuroplasticity, or the ability of the brain to change and adapt especially in response to learning and experience.

Technology Toolbox

This article is part of our monthly Technology Toolbox column. Read more from Sheila Kennedy.

About the Author

Sheila Kennedy | CMRP

Sheila Kennedy, CMRP, is a professional freelance writer specializing in industrial and technical topics. She established Additive Communications in 2003 to serve software, technology, and service providers in industries such as manufacturing and utilities, and became a contributing editor and Technology Toolbox columnist for Plant Services in 2004. Prior to Additive Communications, she had 11 years of experience implementing industrial information systems. Kennedy earned her B.S. at Purdue University and her MBA at the University of Phoenix. She can be reached at [email protected] or

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