If you are in the business of maintenance in any industry, at some point in time you would have heard someone saying that such and such grease is “a good grease”. This is not strange, but I would prefer to say that there is hardly a “bad” grease – it mainly comes down to what kind of performance and result the user is seeking.

If you are lubricating a tight spot for squeaking, then you can usually judge if the grease is effective if the squeaking stops. If you are lubricating a complex piece of machinery, then you will probably only know that the lubricant was not effective if the machinery has continued breakdowns or failure, having serious damage, financial loss or downtime.

It can be confusing!

But the ensuing overview can help to lead you into the ways to navigate the jargon, technical considerations and options, against what your needs are. It takes some time to be comfortable but you just have to understand that there is an answer and consult technical support to get you through the issues, leading to better maintenance performance.

In the wide world of lubricant-related maintenance, technicians encounter many challenges. People would not normally run their equipment without lubrication but the next worse thing would be the incorrect lubrication. Many buyers focus on the price. One informed school of thought is that the cheapest form of maintenance comes from the best maintenance practices and that, as it relates to lubrication, means the best lubricant for the job.

Consider the chart below that shows approximate averages for typical maintenance. The lowest costs are associated with LUBRICATION, yet, this is where so many people spend time buying cheap, without understanding that insisting on these low costs here can lead to increases in the already high costs in the areas of labour and materials.

But, should buyers just go out and buy the most expensive greases and oils? No!

The key is not first to make the decision based on a price, but first to decide what are the needs for the job. After
determining that the needs can be satisfied, then, by all means, buy the lowest- cost solution that is capable…

How do we judge the desired levels of performance?

This is the big question. The answer is determined both by the equipment type/function and the environment in which it works. You’ll come to realize that slow and heavy machinery have different considerations than fast and smooth ones. Also, dry or wet environments are harder to cope with than regular or “normal” environments. And, extreme cold or hot environments require different considerations for lubricants to work well.

You’ll also come to realize that what seems “good” in one situation may be unsuitable for another – hence the reason good lubricant companies try to meet the needs with different products, which invariable means different prices.

A graphic and serious example of what makes for good consideration is the need for grease or oil to lubricate an aeroplane that flies at high altitudes. At ground levels, in hot climates, say 40deg C, the products need to function appropriately for the temperatures. Yet, when the plane climbs to forty thousand feet, where the temperatures fall too low minus (maybe -40 or -50 deg C) these unbearably low temperatures are vastly different from what was experienced say an hour or so before.

We will examine the needs for the situations in subsequent posts and discuss many different circumstances for appropriate maintenance considerations. Join us and please share your comments and questions.