The best way to ensure the longevity of machines is to take a proactive approach to their maintenance. Lubrication plays an essential roll in making sure these tools are operating at their best, but because there are so many different components to these machines, there are a variety of different failure modes on account of lubrication and lubrication programs.
Taking proactive measures to ensure that lube is performing its best can go a long way in extending the lifespan of a machine. In fact, the proper failure mode prevention program can make a machine last three to eight times longer. For this reason, it is important to take note of all the failure modes of lubrication and lubrication programs.
Part 1 of this series covered the temperature and moisture failure modes. This installment of the series will cover foreign materials and particles, viscosity and contamination.
Foreign materials/ particles
Foreign materials and particles can be a major source of failure mode. There are only about 5 microns of film between a loaded bearing or gear, but foreign particles can be as large as 40 microns. This means that when these particles get into machine lube, they can grid and scratch the gears of the machine. Contaminates can get into lubrication for a number of reasons. Depending on the facility, particles that are simply floating around can get into the lube, while poor storage methods and facilities can also get in.
Also, the way new lube is handled can allow foreign materials to enter. New oil can come already contaminated, while improper filtration and particles from new grease can lead to lubrication failure modes. Further, these failures can arise if lube filtration is improperly handled or simply out of long term machine wear and tear.