If You Value Your Equipment Don’t Expect Lubrication to be Easy

Machinery lubrication is a big and challenging job, whose importance is neglected by most operations. Lube-It beautifully summarizes the reality:

If lubrication were easy, it wouldn’t cost manufacturers a trillion dollars in annual losses.

Lubrication in the digital age is complex, misunderstood, and mishandled.
Learn how complicated your job really is…

This complication is encouraged by lubrication suppliers trying to meet needs with products called “general purpose”, “multi-purpose” and “all-purpose”.  While there are needs for these, let’s be practical! They can encourage laziness and production / financial losses.
If the cost of lubrication is only 1-3% of manufacturing costs, and the major costs can be reduced by proper lubrication practices, then why not go ahead and implement these practices?

2 Things To Consider When Choosing A Proper Lubricant

Here are some important things to consider when choosing a proper lubricant. For now, if you don’t understand most or any of the terms, no worries, ICS will make it as simple as possible. You will then understand why it is important to get any training you can, employ people who have the knowledge, and deal with suppliers who can help you navigate these issues
and make the best investment in products for your machinery’s needs.

Viscosity and the Basic Elements of Equipment Lubrication

Viscosity is simply the level of thickness of a liquid. The main purpose of good lubrication is to protect equipment from wear and breakdown. This is done by creating a film of lubricant between moving parts, and the film depends on the viscosity of the oil being used.

Usually, equipment manufacturers require that lubricants maintain a certain minimum viscosity of film at operating temperatures. This always allows for proper protection of the equipment.

Equipment of Part Required – Oil Film Thickness or Viscosity

Type of EquipmentMinimum Viscosity Required (Calculate equivalent cSt @ 40 deg C)
BearingsBall 70 SUS
Roller100 SUS
Spherical150 SUS
Sleeve190 SUS
Gearboxes150 SUS
Hydraulic Systems70  SUS
Air Compressor40 SUS
Vacuum Pumps190 SUS

When choosing a lubricant, remember to note the standard to ensure it is the same one being used for consistency. You can follow the standards created by ASTM (American Standard for Testing and Machinery). However, the moment you introduce this idea of a “film”, it brings up the related characteristics that can affect how that film behaves and the type and effectiveness of the protection you need such as:

  • VISCOSITY INDEX – generally, higher is better
  • FLASH AND FIRE POINTS – generally, higher is better
  • CLOUD AND POUR POINTS – generally, lower is better (Pour point)
  • ANILINE POINTS – generally, higher is better
  • DIELECTRIC STRENGTH – generally, higher is better
  • ABRASION TESTER – the lower the loss, the better

– Load Wear Index – the higher, the better

– Weld Point – the higher, the better

  • FOUR BALL WEAR TEST – the lower the scar diameter, the better
  • SHEAR STABILITY – the more stable, the better
  • DROPPING POINT – generally, the higher, the better
  • OXIDATION – the lower the pressure drop, the better
  • WATER WASHOUT – generally, the lower, the better

When presenting on some of these factors, some customers will deny they have any problems.

This is part of the complexity to which Lube-It refers.  Many times the practices and results have become so ingrained that people do not see them as problems. They have been changing their cheap oils every two months for decades and they have no reason to connect the gearbox leaking with anything other than “machinery will eventually wear out and give problems”.

A quick story – Some time ago we tried to sell a big company a high-temperature oil and the maintenance and purchasing people would not agree because they said the bosses would never agree to such high prices. They said that in the face of any argument brought forward, it might cost them their jobs. The CEO attended a trade show in the US and met a Vice-President from a supplier of specialized lubricants and they struck up a general conversation. The VP recommended the high-temperature oil as a modern and safe way to lubricate high-temperature chains and the CEO returned and instituted the change.

Many times, customers speak proudly about how difficult it was to convince them, but now they are happy that they did listen eventually. Yes, the lubrication business is like that! So, use these insights to your advantage by getting the right information and making the best decisions for your efficient maintenance needs.