Lubrication practices within a plant have a direct effect on plant and equipment reliability. When a lubricant is working effectively in a machine – with no chemical degradation and with limited contamination within it, wear will be reduced and equipment reliability will be improved. The key to achieving a reduction in component wear and an increase in equipment reliability, is an effective and clean average lubrication film thickness – or in order words protecting and maintaining a good lubrication viscosity.
What is Lubrication Reliability?
Any investigations conducted today on why bearings fail, will reveal the alarming fact that over 60% of the damages are lubrication related. The bearing is the rotating core of the machine and if we can reduce the lube related failures we will directly improve the equipment reliability, not to mention reducing the bearing consumption.
Bearings and other rotating components need a good lube film thickness to separate the metal components and reduce wear; however, generating a good film thickness is a chemically complex mechanism, which is dependent on many factors.
However, when the lubrication works in a reliable way, equipment reliability will improve. Meaning a Lubrication Reliability strategy is all about ensuring effective machine lubrication occurs within the machine resulting in reduced wear and failures.
It is all about Lube Film!
SKF has stated that, “bearings can have an infinite life when particles larger than the lubricant film are removed.” Meaning the removal of abrasive particles prevents bearing wear.
In a bearing with a good average lubrication film thickness, the metal surfaces are separated and the average thickness of this separation or film is very small, in fact it is about one twentieth of the thickness of a strand of human hair. See figure 1
When there are hard contaminants in the oil and they are greater in size than average lube film, then 3 body abrasive wear starts to happen. This then leads to surface indentation and scratching, which is a process that can lead to bearing or component failure.