The manufacturer using the bearing in his equipment, not the ball bearing manufacturer, determines the anticipated life of a ball bearing. This life, once determined, is called the L10 life of the bearing and it is based on the premise that 90% of the bearings will last a certain amount of revolutions before they experience metal fatigue.
Like all industry these days, the economics of running a plant requires a keen eye on operating costs. In an effort to increase uptime and reduce maintenance costs, the mechanical maintenance team at the Valiant plant undertook a program to reduce dryer bearing failures with lubrication management, which included aggressive contamination control and oil analysis.
We change a lot of oil in our plants, mills, mines and factories. What are we doing to change our lubrication culture? In their book Learning to Fly, Collison and Parcell, employees of British Petroleum (BP), suggest a predictable pattern in achieving sustained culture change, which is a function of effort and time.
The more I delve into this subject, the more I discover the pronounced impact lubrication has on energy and the environment. A case in point is the impact of clean oil on fuel consumption and emission in engines. There are many ways that a lubricant could fail to deliver fuel-efficient engine performance. Many of these are due to formulation issues as opposed to transient properties of the lubricant in service.
I routinely ask my consulting clients and seminar students if they have lube procedures, and they sheepishly admit that they don’t. They often look embarrassed to have to admit it, but I believe these folks represent the cream of the crop. If they are attending classes on lubrication, or are having their program audited, they must have good intentions.
Manually greasing a bearing is another act that, at least on the surface, appears to be purely physical. One grabs the grease gun, pumps it full of grease or installs a cartridge, goes to the machine, attaches the gun to the grease fitting and pumps the lever to deliver grease – right? Regrettably, this is too often the case. When the act of greasing a bearing is viewed as a purely physical task, the plant has little chance of developing a world-class machinery lubrication program that delivers machine reliability, profits and competitive advantage.
The path to lubrication excellence can be difficult to navigate. It begins when individuals and organizations become aware of the importance of their lubrication program, its impact on productivity and its direct effect on the bottom line. Once this enlightenment has occurred, comprehensive training in best practices is acquired and the organization can consider what the lubrication program should be and where they wish to take it.
Just like nutrition facts printed on the label of every item in a grocery store, the symbols on an oil can label tell consumers the service rating and certification for that product. In the United States, the American Petroleum Institute (API) administers the licensing and certification of engine oils through a system that meets the warranty, maintenance and lubrication requirements of original equipment manufacturers. OEMs, oil marketers, additive companies and testing laboratories work together to establish engine oil performance requirements, test methods and limits for the various classifications and testing processes.