Basics: Part 1 - Two Important Lubrication Rules
Lubrication is one of the most important (and often missed) factors for the successful operation of a pump. By lubricating and thus separating moving parts such as bearings, lubrication minimizes the friction that causes wear and tear. It can help control contamination and even facilitate the absorption and transformation of heat.
If you don't get lubrication right, whether it's by using insufficient or excessive lubrication, using the wrong lubrication or any other misstep, your equipment's proper operation will be compromised, leading to significant maintenance costs, and even pump failure.
In this four-part series, we'll be looking at some pump lubrication basics to help you get the best of lubrication. The first part of pump lubrication basics starts with two important rules: Don't overgrease and make sure you choose the right lubricant and additives for the application. The second part is all about contamination and some ways in which you can prevent it. The third covers lubrication storage and how to do it right. Lastly, the fourth part provides some common-sense lubrication practices to help you extend the life of your bearings.
1. Don't overgrease
By lubricating too much, you're risking energy loss and increased temperatures, which can lead to increased wear and eventually, seal failure.
Too much grease in the bearing cavity will cause the rotating elements to churn and push the grease out, which drains energy and leads to higher temperatures. These high temperatures cause chemical degradation of the grease and oil bleed, which happens when the oil begins to separate from the thickener, eventually cooking it to a hard, crusty build up that can block new lubrication from reaching the bearing core. When you use a pressured grease gun, this hard, crusty grease can also break apart and find its way into the bearing track.
2. Choose the right lubricant and additives for the application
You must choose the right lubrication and additives for the pump application. Viscosity is an important factor when choosing the correct lubrication. In many cases, maintenance teams use the same viscosity lube on different applications. This may work if you're using a synthetic lubrication, but not if you're using oil-based products. In fact, the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) may not understand your specific applications, so you may have to change viscosity based on the operating conditions.
First you need to consider the speed of the pump, as well as the temperature under which the pump operates. High speed pumps need low viscosity lubrication which can flow into the high velocity components. If the pump operates in a cold environment, a lighter grade oil might be required. If the system operates in a humid or wet area, you might need anti-rust or corrosion additives to prevent moisture from getting in.
Meanwhile, low speed applications need a higher viscosity lube to provide enough lubrication. A higher viscosity lube is also required for high temperature conditions. If the pump manages high loads and temperature, you might also need to consider anti-wear additives to add protection for high loads. Clearly, you need to know what lubricant and additives to use for the application as well as the correct viscosity.
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