Proper Greasing with Wesley Cash
We’re excited to have Wesley Cash to shed light on proper greasing techniques. He’s been at Noria Corporation for nine years now and is currently their director of technical services. However, his professional experience in fields relating to reliability, lubrication, and maintenance spans over 16 years, enabling him to acquire numerous ICML and CLS certifications.
He’ll help us learn more on what’s necessary for proper greasing practices, such as:
- Why lubrication is important
- The type of failures it could cause
- Common issues with lubricating
- Proper use of a grease gun
- Factors to enhance proper lubrication
Why is lubrication necessary?
Lubrication is a fundamental process of your reliability program. That’s because it’s one of the leading causes of equipment failures. Without proper lubrication, you increase your chance of failures. It’ll also cause misses with other predictive technology you’re using.
Research shows that 90% of all bearing failures relate to lubrication issues. Lubricant issues also account for up to 80% of hydraulic failures. In general, lubrication issues account for nearly half of all equipment failures. These could include having too much or too little lubrication. It could also be having contaminated lubricants.
How many people use grease guns properly?
Less than 25% of people using grease guns do so correctly. These problems result from factors like not getting adequate training. That’s because using a grease gun isn’t seen as a difficult task. The complexity comes in knowing how much grease you need to add. Most maintenance people learn how to operate a grease gun through work experiences. You’ll often find those in that role assuming the process is self-explanatory.
Common issues from using a grease gun
You can divide these into two groups. These are:
- Too much grease – this could lead to damaged seals or pushing the lubricant into areas it shouldn’t be
- Applying grease too fast – the grease should have time to distribute and even push out the old grease
How to properly use a grease gun
For starters, try to add a lubricant while the equipment is running. It’s understandable if you can’t do this due to safety concerns. But, if possible, first look for a purge fitting or plug. It’ll serve as a relief port or pathway for old grease to get pushed out. By doing this, you’ll also reduce the pressure that comes with greasing equipment.
Before attaching the grease gun, clean the grease fitting. Wipe with a lint-free towel. Remove any plastic fittings you find on it. Then purge some grease from the grease gun before attaching to the grease fitting. That helps to clean the end of the grease gun, especially if it was in storage.
You can then slowly start to apply the grease. When you disconnect the grease gun, leave a small amount of grease. It should be enough to cover the fitting, sealing it from contaminants. If you have a plastic cap, use that to cover it. Run your machine for between 10-20 minutes if it has a relief port. That will allow any excess pressure to come out.
Importance of keeping out contaminants
With cleaning up greased fittings, maintenance-induced failures due to contamination are frequent. With oil lubricated parts, you can filter out solid contaminants. With greased parts, the contaminants stay firmly in place. Since it isn’t an aqueous solution, contaminants can’t easily get pushed out.
Other factors to enhance proper lubrication
These include elements such as:
- Safety – you need to be careful around the equipment
- Check for backpressure – while adding grease, there could be cavities full of grease. You could also have parts plugged with dried up, old grease. These make the grease gun a bit harder to operate. But, if you’re not concentrating, you may not notice the backpressure
- Check if grease is purging out from the equipment – if so, that’s a sign that you should stop. Too much grease is messy and could damage seals
- Know the bearing type for electric motors – some bearings come sealed. So, adding grease to such will only insulate the bearings. So the motor will keep getting hotter and also wear the seals faster
- The mixing of greases – there are different types of grease. To avoid a mixup, label your gun. That way, everyone knows the grease that’s inside it. You could also get a clear-bodied grease gun so you can see the grease inside. You can also do a visual check. Purge some grease from the grease gun to check what’s inside
Tips to improve your lubrication program
- Changes in your lubrication will take time. Thus, the results could delay
- Align the team. Ensure everyone knows the proper procedures to avoid equipment failures
- Have a lubrication culture in your plant
- Cut exposure of your lubricants to the atmosphere
- Run your lubricant through a filter every time you transfer it
You should avoid fixing bad habits within your plant by spending money. Use incremental changes to create changes. Check the lubricant life cycle by asking the following questions:
- Do you have the proper lubricant?
- Do you store your lubricants properly?
- Are you handling it correctly when applying it to your machines?
- Is the greased machine getting cleaner or dirtier?
- Does your machine have contamination control? Is it keeping contaminants out?
- Can you inspect the grease without exposing it to the atmosphere?
- How do you know it’s time to change out the grease?
- How do you dispose of the old grease?
In general, most issues arise from the storage and handling of lubricants. So start small and make sustainable changes. Develop a roadmap of what needs to get done.
Wesley Cash Links:
- Noria Linkedin Page
- Wesley Cash Linkedin
- The Practical Handbook of Machinery Lubrication
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