Ultrasonic technology (UT) has become widely accepted for the detection of leaks in both pressurized and nonpressurized systems. Most compressor service companies and several manufacturers own some type of ultrasonic sensor for pinpointing leaks. It is easy to cost-justify the purchase of an ultrasonic sensor based upon the high cost of energy loss due to leaks. However, there is another application for ultrasound that consumers, nondestructive testing (NDT) organizations, and even developers and manufacturers of ultrasonic sensors are often not aware of or overlook. UT can be used as a means to detect early wear of components such as bearings and gears due to lack of lubrication or overlubrication.
Industry spends millions of dollars each year on improved filtration technology in an attempt to reduce particle contamination, with some of the more advanced companies reducing failure rates by up to 90 percent simply by controlling fluid cleanliness. However, in some industries and environments, water is a far more insidious contaminant than solid particles. Water contamination is often overlooked as the primary cause of component failure.
Most, if not all, companies use CMMS systems to oversee their maintenance activities. From home-grown systems to complete ERP systems, leveraging technology allows companies to more efficiently and effectively manage their maintenance, repair and operations activities. So as a core maintenance function, surely routine, lubrication-related preventive and predictive activities such as regreasing motor bearings, taking oil samples, and executing oil top-offs and inspections belong in the CMMS system like any other maintenance task, right?
The goal of every lubrication program should be to ensure that all equipment receives and maintains the proper levels of lubrication such that no equipment fails due to inadequate or improper lubrication. In order for this to happen, we must follow the 5R’s of lubrication – right lubricant, right condition, right location, right amount, right frequency.
In an ideal world, multiple components could be produced in a single piece, or coupled and installed in perfect alignment. However, in the real world, separate components must be brought together and connected onsite. Couplings are required to transmit rotational forces (torque) between two lengths of shaft, and despite the most rigorous attempts, alignment is never perfect. To maximize the life of components such as bearings and shafts, flexibility must be built in to absorb the residual misalignment that remains after all possible adjustments are made. Proper lubrication of couplings is critical to their performance.