Why Lubrication Increases Machine Longevity

According to Dr. Ernest Rabinowicz of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 70% of moving machine failure is the result of wear and corrosion. Both of these factors are due to ineffective lubrication. He goes on to state that 6% of GDP is lost through mechanical wear.

Who would have thought that over $1 trillion could be the size of the prize if we, as a nation, could combat this problem? If you worry about machine failure, read on to learn about the benefits of lubrication.

Machine Failure

When machine failures occur, investigations reveal causes such as contamination, misalignment, installation error or overheating. There is often a lubrication cause to these explanations.

The four features of good lubrication practice are:

  • Correct lubricant
  • Stable lubricant
  • Contamination control
  • Sufficient and sustained lubrication

Maintaining these good lubrication practices reduces the causes of a breakdown.

How Does Lubrication Reduce Wear?

When two objects are in contact, the force that resists relative motion is friction. Friction is useful in many ways, but there are times when it is not. Friction generates heat in bearings, heat results in expansion and expansion can result in bearings seizing.

Lubricating machinery minimizes the friction and the resultant heat. Any heat produced is then transferred to the lubricant and removed by a lube cooler. Friction and heat are not the only things lubrication reduces.

When two materials rub against each other, tiny imperfections in their surfaces rub and fragments break off. These fragments act as an abrasive resulting in more surface damage. A lubricant protects both surfaces.

Some lubricants contain additives. They attract contaminants such as particles worn from the surfaces in contact. These can then be filtered and the contaminants removed before they can do any damage.

How Does Lubrication Reduce Corrosion?

Many machines operate in situations where there is some level of humidity. When metal and air come into contact with water, the result is corrosion. Corrosion is one cause of machine failure.

Specific lubricants have additives which prevent rust. They do this by protecting the metal from coming into contact with moisture. Without rust, the metal surfaces remain sound, and the machine is less likely to fail.

Lubricating For Machine Longevity

Lubrication extends the life of machinery by reducing heat, friction, wear, and corrosion but this is only successful if the lubrication regime is fit for purpose. The right lubricant has to be in good condition and uncontaminated. It must be applied in sufficient quantity and at the right level of frequency.

Failing to adopt this standard means optimum machine life will not be achieved. Machinery manufacturers often guide the lubrication needs of their machinery. These should be followed.

The International Council for Machine Lubrication is an independent organization established to develop machine lubrication as a technical field. It provides certification for skills in machine monitoring, lubrication, as well as oil analysis. The proper application of standards in lubrication must pay dividends in reducing equipment downtime and machine failure.

To talk to someone about your machinery needs, contact us.

Posted in Industrial Equipment.