Many people see lubricants as simply the cost of doing business, but lubricants are far more important than that.
Lubricants are a very valuable investment in your equipment and there is more to proper lubrication than just using the right lubricant. In this blog post, we are going to look at lubricants as an investment in the life and value of your heavy equipment.
Here are some additional posts from the Shop Talk blog ...
- The Very Real Dangers of Reactive Maintenance of Final Drives
- Technician or Mechanic? In The Heavy Equipment Industry
- 3 Things You Should Know about Gear Oil for Final Drives
Lubrication and Failures
Did you know that some experts say that 50-60% of bearing failures alone are related to lubrication issues? If a part doesn’t fail because it was overloaded or due to some defect in design or manufacturing, chances are its failure can be traced back to an issue with lubrication.
Failure to keep your heavy equipment parts lubricated leads to increased temperatures where surfaces are in contact with each other. This in turn can lead to a cycle of welding and galling if temperatures go high enough. The result is metal debris in the form of shavings in in your equipment which has a domino effect that leads to catastrophic failure.
You are also likely to see smoke as the remaining lubricant begins to burn.
Routines for Lubrication
There are regular maintenance routines to follow, correct filters to use, certain lubricants to implement under different conditions, etc. When you follow the routines and guidelines provided by the OEM, you prevent minor damage that negatively affects the performance of your machine and can eventually lead to catastrophic failure. These maintenance schedules are not simply guesswork on the part of the engineers: they were developed to optimize the life and performance of your equipment.
Check your equipment manual and follow the recommendations for when to check and change hydraulic fluid and gear oil. Do the same thing for filters, such as the case drain filters for your final drive. Follow recommendations for grease and lube, also. In fact, you can encourage your operators to assist with tasks like greasing by providing them easy access to grease guns and the like.
You don’t necessarily need expensive tests and diagnostic equipment to keep track of your lubrication needs. Experienced maintenance professionals will tell you that the most important thing you can do is check your equipment regularly and make sure that you are using the correct lubricants and filters.
Keep in mind that cheap, off-brand filters are usually cheap for a good reason: lesser quality. Is it really worth risking the integrity of your equipment to save a little money on cheap filters?
Careful Selection of Lubricants
There’s a reason why the manufacture recommends a specific brand and type of lubricant, and it is not just to sell their own product. The engineers who designed that equipment did so with that type of lubricant in mind. They used its properties in their calculations and simulations for the design and analysis. They also predict performance and life based on using those lubricants. If you switch to a different type of lubricant, you run the risk of, at minimum, impaired performance and, at worst case, damage to your equipment.
Note that you should also follow manufacturer recommendations for changes in factors such as working temperature, workload, and moisture.
The most expensive, extensive diagnostic equipment will not make up for a disciplined approach to lubrication.
Manage your investment in your heavy equipment. Get more specific information on potential issues with this free resource guide (infographic) provided by Texas Final Drive...6 Fascinating Facts About Gear Oil.