According to several studies, industry is wasting millions of dollars by ignoring problems related to friction and wear. Companies can save money and increase machinery reliability by paying more attention to these problems. There is a compelling need for more understanding among maintenance and production personnel in the practices of reducing friction and wear. It is ironic that trades people are taught how to install, maintain and repair equipment, but few are taught how to understand the relationship between friction, wear and lubrication.
I spent twenty-one years as a maintenance technician and supervisor in the phosphate industry prior to joining the ACOEM-Vibralign training team. For the majority of my career I was trained by other technicians who had never had any proper lubrication training. I was taught many bad habits that I passed on to others which in turn decreased reliability. It wasn’t until the latter part of my career that I was provided with an eye-opening training class. We learned critical concepts that truly helped us make a difference in the reliability of our equipment. Here are just a few of the many topics we covered.
- Making sure that the correct lubricant was added to a machine by using a simple labeling system that was adopted company-wide to avoid mixing lubricants.
- Filtering all oil to keep contaminants out due to the fact that oil contamination is a large source of wear and equipment failure.
- Using safe, clean and closed dispensing equipment.
- Oil/grease additives and their functions
- How to properly use grease guns.
We all know how important it is to properly install, align and balance our machinery. Let us not overlook the critical component of lubrication. In most plants there is a tremendous amount of opportunity to save money and downtime by adopting lubrication best practices. I have personally experienced and observed other maintenance technicians, with proper training and support, make a difference in production and profits due to simply knowing the right things to do!