Adding the correct amount of lubrication at each re-lubricating interval is essential to achieve maximum bearing life. An incorrect re-lubrication quantity, whether it’s too much or too little, can actually decrease bearing life.
Overgreasing rolling element bearings in motors has been an industry problem for several years. More motors have bearing failures due to overgreasing than from undergreasing. For the nuclear power generation industry in particular, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) provided guidance and direction. Their method delivered mixed performance results for the amount of resources that companies have had to devote to motor relubrication, motivating some organizations to develop additional improvements.
Choosing the right lubrication in the offshore industry is typically based on considerations such as performance and reliability, but this does not have to come at the expense of the environment. For any piece of industrial machinery to run smoothly, lubrication is a key consideration. In the offshore industry, where equipment may be stranded more than 100 miles from the shore, maximum efficiency is essential, so lubrication treatment must be carefully selected to ensure reliable performance. Where spares and replacement parts may be days away, ensuring that everything is fully functional is critical to the bottom line.
Often, the perception of quality derives from the presence of a practice. The practice exists, therefore it is right. In reality, a scheduled task is often passed off as a standard regardless of rightness. This disconnect occurs because the relubrication portion of the CMMS deployment follows a troubled model. A flawed practice is coded into a program. This doesn’t make the practice functional.
So, how does lubrication stack up? In this column, the first of a three-part series, I will look at the basics of lubrication preventive maintenance (PM) procedures. In Part 2, I’ll talk about what I call “hybrid PMs”, PMs that span multiple technologies. In Part 3, I’ll discuss how you should use the information in the PM to maximum effect in the field.
Following this meeting, a professional consultant visited Schmid to determine if the right oil and lubricants were being utilized to meet maintenance goals. After much testing and analysis, the consultant determined that the oils in use were not as high quality as the company originally thought. With hard work and determined mechanics, every piece of equipment and every truck was changed over to the new brand of oil and the company seemed to have fewer lubrication related problems. Still, large amounts of money were poured into repairs and the desired results were not fully achieved.
Proper lubrication is an essential maintenance function and changing oil is one aspect of the process. Unlike changing the oil in your car based upon time or miles, oil changes for industrial equipment should be based on need where no other practical solution to restore proper lubrication is available. Too often, we schedule an oil change to rectify a contamination problem or when excessive wear is detected. In neither case is the oil change a certain correction of the root cause of the problem, and it wastes good money and further stresses the environment with hazardous waste.
Using lubrication and oil analysis to enhance machine reliability is really too simple. Behind the appearances of complexity and vale of high science are the most basic of concepts. We can try to make it difficult, but why? With the right tools and a generous amount of training, a seemingly challenging task can be transformed into something almost mundane, but still powerful.
Begin by not reading this editorial. Most “old school” lube programs like to hold to the status quo. Editorials like this one threaten their comfort zone. After all, change takes guts . . . it takes imagination . . . it takes commitment. Who’s got the time (and courage) for that?