Proper lubrication management for machines and equipment is critical to keeping them in good working condition. Unexpected machine and equipment failures as a result of improper lubrication expose workers to safety hazards and can cost a company anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars. Aside from money and resources lost when repairing and replacing equipment, machine and bearing failures significantly reduce a plant’s operating productivity and increase downtime.
However, there could be many other reasons for equipment failure besides improper lubrication management, such as contamination, overload, insufficient maintenance, or wrong handling and installation of the bearings and other parts.
Today, we will discuss the effects of improper lubrication and how CMMS helps streamline maintenance tasks for machine and equipment lubrication.
What is Machine Lubrication?
Lubrication involves using machine oil or grease (lubricants) to reduce the friction and wear and tear between two parts of a machine that are always in contact with each other.
An integral part of machine maintenance is lubrication and it contributes to the proper functioning of equipment, as it can increase the life expectancy of the machine. On the other hand, improper lubrication management is one of the major causes of machine failures. Therefore, while lubrication is crucial to machine performance and maintenance, it is essential to do it properly.
Implications of Improper Lubrication
Lubricants carry dirt and certain impurities that tend to accumulate in equipment components and bearings, upsetting functioning and speed. Therefore, it is essential to check for any unwanted impurities in lubricants that might affect the performance of equipment.
Not all types of lubricants are suitable for all machines and equipment. Some lubricants tend to react with metals or equipment material that can result in the adhesive wearing off. For example, some lubricants react with yellow metals like brass. These can severely damage the machine due to the chemical changes that might occur in the equipment material. This will later require more money and intensive labor to repair.
Hence, it’s essential to select a lubricant that is compatible with your machine’s equipment and material.
When two non-compatible lubricants are mixed together, it can lead to leakages. It is very common to see additives that attack metal surfaces formed by mixing a mineral-based lubricant with a synthetic base. Then a chemical reaction follows, ultimately causing adhesive wear between the metal surfaces in proximity, and this may cause the thin metal seal to shrink due to there being wear at the seal openings. Hence, oil or lubricants can leak out.
Improper lubrication and maintenance management ultimately result in machine damage or a complete breakdown, requiring professional assistance or parts replacement, adding more cost to the maintenance.
Friction between rubbing surfaces can cause equipment to wear prematurely due to improper lubrication. The type of wearing can vary depending on the surfaces in contact and the particular lubrication errors during machine maintenance. For example, adhesive wear occurs when there is a localized bonding between two solid surfaces. Whereas, abrasive wear ensues when a rough surface slides across plain or soft surfaces.
Utilize CMMS to Streamline the Management of Machine Lubrication
There could be many reasons for improper lubrication, including incorrect procedures being followed while applying lubricants as well as not having a well-planned maintenance and inspection program.
Without a proper tool, managing maintenance activities in a large plant can be hectic and frustrating. With CMMS software, you can streamline lubrication management to ensure task consistency in a maintenance segment that is often overlooked.
CMMS makes it easy to track what machine has been lubricated as well as who completed the work, which adds a level of accountability to lubrication tasks.