Delivery Systems Lubrication

An ALS Will Boost Asset Reliability

EP Editorial Staff | June 3, 2020

Using an automatic lubrication system to lubricate assets, such as this gear box, can dramatically increase reliability and free up man-hours for more effective use elsewhere.

Automated lubrication systems will help you re-allocate maintenance hours and contribute to increased profits.

By Dean Hammes, Lubrication Engineers Inc.

In the current business climate of doing more with less, ALSs are an effective way to address reduced manpower and squeezed maintenance budgets. If, however, as many industry experts claim, 45% to 70% of machine failures result from improper lubrication practices, why aren’t automatic-lubrication systems (ALS) standard equipment in industrial facilities? Several reasons are typically offered, including:

• My lube techs would be out of a job.
• I want my guys to put eyes on the equipment anyway.
• Automated systems are too expensive.
• Those systems are too complicated.
• I’ve heard they’re not reliable.

The truth is that each company has to decide if an ALS is the best solution for a specific asset, issue, or maintenance group.

ALSs are designed to take a manual, critical task—maintaining appropriate grease or oil levels in rotating parts—and remove some of the inconvenient, sometimes hazardous, and certainly repetitive aspects of the activity. There is no doubt that introducing small amounts of lubricant at regular intervals is better than manually greasing a lubrication point daily, weekly, monthly, or at whatever interval the machine or bearing manufacturer recommends.

The illustration shows the inconsistent protection that occurs with manual lubrication, including lubricant film deterioration, lack of adequate lubricant quantity, and moments when excessive wear occurs. Illustration courtesy Lubrication Engineers Inc.

Properly designed and implemented, an ALS will help you meet the “Five Rights of Effective Lubrication:”

The right product
In the right amount
In the right location
At the right time
With the right method.

The above “rights” will result in longer component life (the ultimate goal) and provide these additional advantages:

reduced machine repairs by increasing bearing life
minimized lubricant waste by dispensing precise amounts
more effective use of man hours by eliminating time-consuming manual lubrication
improved efficiency by adding clean lubricant while an asset is operating
significant reduction in machine downtime, resulting in increased production
reduced energy requirements resulting from lower bearing friction.
minimized contamination because lubricants are contained and transported in a closed circuit
elimination of spillage, resulting in cleaner assets and surrounding areas and minimal environmental impact
improved safety because automated systems can be installed in easily accessible locations.

The long-term impact is that ALSs reduce overall manufacturing costs, helping companies increase profits and remain competitive.

Dean Hammes is Technical Manager of Automatic Lubrication Systems, Lubrication Engineers Inc., Wichita, KS. He is experienced at designing custom automatic lubrication systems for the mining, food and beverage, manufacturing, steel, mobile, and cement industries. In addition to sales and training certificates, Hammes holds several technical certifications, including MLT I, MLA I and MLA II from ICML, CLS from STLE, System Design from Vickers, and MSHA from U.S. Dept. of Labor. He is a member of SMRP.

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