Pump Lubrication | Protecting A Critical Asset

Critical? What does that mean?

Opto-Matic Closed System Oiler

Opto-Matic Closed System Oiler

There are many versions of the definition as stated by various associations and engineering groups. The definition also varies by industry and that makes it outside of the scope of this article. For the purposes of this article let us agree that we are talking about equipment or a system identified as critical to the manufacturing or processing operation and that provides direct safety or indirectly can cause a safety system to fail. In the maintenanceforums.com thread on the definitions, user: Lynn R states there is ambiguity as to the criteria associated with “critical” and what that means. It’s a fair statement that I agree with completely.
Pumps in many cases are firmly placed in the realm of what is considered critical and most pumps that I know of, or have been exposed to in many industries will in fact stop production or become a safety hazard if they are not in use…so we will consider them critical equipment, at least for the considerations here.
In a paper mill the pump is generally used to pump water and also to create vacuum. In an oil refinery they are used to pump sludge, oil, and gas to storage and around the facility. In food production they can be utilized to move raw materials from one process to another. In water treatment operations they move water through the entire process.
Lubrication of pumps is done in a number of ways based on the type of pump, the driver of the pump, and the configuration needed for continuous operation. One common denominator in all types of pumps are the bearings. These bearings can take the form of many styles or types and either be grease lubricated or oil lubricated. Most industrial applications utilize oil, which resides in the bearing housing itself. More typically the pump has a bearing housing which is in the form of a sump or tank if you will. The ideal level of lubricant to achieve the bearings life expectancy and for the equipment to run reliably is always the middle of the lowest ball or roller.
Viscosity is the most important factor when lubricating an industrial pump. The operating environment, duty, cycle and speeds have a direct impact on an oils viscosity. Most pump OEM’s recommend viscosity ranges and sometimes specific brands of lubricants based on what is considered “typical” operating environments. Keep in mind the lubricant is part of the design criteria of any piece of rotating equipment, in this case pumps. OEM recommendations should be used as a guideline only. Determining the correct oil for any application requires you to understand the operating environment and conditions which will have a direct impact on the oils viscosity. If you think about it in everyday terms, vehicles operating in colder climates require a lower viscosity fluid for the simple fact that lower temperatures tend to increase an oils viscosity.

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In terms of plant operation the main purpose of an external oiler is to insure the correct oil level is maintained in the bearing housing. Other benefits to an external oiler allow maintenance and operations to visually inspect the level of oil and the condition. If the oil has a hazy or milky tint to it the typical cause is moisture ingression or if it’s dark and burnt looking the oil is most likely no longer suitable for use. Based on very harsh operating environments such as food and beverage plants which have water wash-downs, chemical and oil refineries which deal with outside weather conditions, and dust and paper mills dealing with severe moisture and particulate issues it is important to outfit the pump with the proper bearing protection aimed at mitigating the ingression of contaminants. A great option to control ingression is a closed system oiler and extreme environment desiccant breather. In situations where mild environments exist a vented oiler with a standard desiccant breather will work. Remember, lubricant selection and proper bearing protection is dictated in most part by the operating environment. The goal is to protect the integrity of the lubricant and maintain the correct level which is at the mid-point of the lowest ball bearing.
Case study after case study show that doing these simple things when lubricating your pumps can save you worthy amounts of time, resources, and capital when considering the life of the lubricant, equipment life, and cost of downtime. In a particular application, the cost benefit went something like this:

In a paper mill there were 100 pumps, which needed lubrication change out is every 6 months. The cost of changing this lubricant was $40,000 which included oil, labor hours, downtime, etc.. They were using the correct lubricant for the application and environment they were in but wanted to get more life out of the lubricant. Something had to change to achieve a different result. They installed a closed system oiler with an extreme environment breather at a cost of $350 per unit the customer was able to extend oil change intervals to 12 months. So for approximately a onetime cost of $35,000, a savings of $5,000 was realized in the first year. In year 2, 3, 4, & 5 the savings was $40,000 per year. Total savings over a 5 year period amounted to $165,000. Certainly a worth while investment in your critical asset care program. This is an over-simplified example, but one that plays out on a daily basis in facilities around the globe.

If you’d like to know more about how to properly lubricate your industrial pumps, contact one of our professionals, or if you’d like to purchase parts to build a proper pump lubrication system visit one of our authorized distributors.

Gearbox Lubrication | Part 6 | The War on Wear

Final part in a 6 part series on lubrication of gearbox applications

Lubrication Excellence by Trico

Your Path to Lubrication Excellence

Temperature, pressure, contaminants, aeration, water, metal particles, and agitation all help to accelerate the oxidation process (destruction) of the lubricant. Combine that with the destructive nature of solid particles trapped between rolling elements, raceways and gear teeth, and emulsions created (lack of lubricating properties) by ingested water will ultimately result in the sacrifice of equipment performance and reliability. Mitigation of these conditions is not only possible, but leads to more upside in the bottom lines of nearly every organization that has implemented a gearbox lubrication management program.

Proper gearbox lubrication means:

  • Maintaining headspace quality
  • Operating within the designed operating conditions
  • Use of dedicated and/or portable filtration for contamination control
  • A competent oil analysis program for maintaining the specific physical, chemical and cleanliness standards throughout the life of the lubricant.

Gearbox lubrication is only the beginning. Every aspect of the process from bringing lubricants into storage to adding them to the equipment and beyond can benefit from best practice utilization. Smart maintainers have explained this to us in great detail and we’ve been able to take nearly 100 years of industrial experience and boil that down to exactly what works in every situation. When you put your trust and confidence in Trico, you’ve made a choice to the up-side that will make your industry competitors think you’re moving to the next level.

In reality you have.

The crystal clear bottom line will be increased company profits by maintaining the functionality of the equipment for production.

Contact a business development member of the Trico team today to start to learn more about lubrication management practices that can elevate your maintenance operation to a new level.


Gearbox Lubrication Filtration – Part 5 | The Wear on Wear

Gearbox Applications | Part 5 - Filtration | The War on Wear

Gearbox Lubrication Filtration

High-Viscosity Filter Cart SystemOnce contaminants are in the fluid, settling, gearbox lubrication filtration/separation and fluid replacement may reduce contamination. For settling to occur, a contaminant must have a density greater than the fluid transporting it. The lower the density of a contaminant particle, the more buoyant it will be in a fluid. Many gearbox manufacturers have designed the gearbox housing to allow the contaminants to settle out in areas that will not allow them to be redistributed into the system. Removal of these contaminants requires thorough flushing of the housing during the replacement of the lubricant. The best way to flush is to use compatible low-viscosity base oil, or a low-viscosity variation of the service oil that can be applied in a method that ensures that all the dead zones are cleaned and any debris is dislodged.

Maintaining the lubricant throughout its in-service life requires some form of filtration for the removal of accumulated contaminants. A properly designed high viscosity filtration system must be utilized that will supply the correct flow rate to perform the function of removing the targeted contaminants in a reasonable time frame. Re-circulating, kidney loop or auxiliary filtration, consists of a pump, filter, motor, cooler (if required) and appropriate hardware connections. Fluid is continuously pumped out of the reservoir, through the filtration system, through an incorporated temperature regulating system (if required), and back to the reservoir ensuring fluid conditioning regardless of the operating condition of the main system. These systems can be either portable or permanently retrofitted to the gearbox/reducer housing. The choice comes down to the need for reliability, safety and severity/penalty of failure.

Smaller, portable filter carts, and hand-held pump/motor/filter units are ideal for pre-filtering, flushing or transferring fluids into reservoirs. These off-line portable carts can be adapted to service many different gearbox/reducer housing in the same family of lubricants by adapting quick-connect self sealing fittings on the drain and fill ports. Care must be taken in selecting the right pump flow rate, filters, and conductor sizes to operate at higher viscosity gear oils. A properly designed filtration system will minimize operating costs by reducing lubricant and equipment damaging contaminants while assisting in extending lubricant life and ultimately the mean time between failures.

High-Viscosity Filter Cart SystemTo measure and trend the contaminants and the effectiveness of the gearbox lubrication filtration system, an oil analysis program should be incorporated into the planned maintenance program. To initiate this program, strategically located test ports should be installed to provide trouble-free, repetitive and representative sampling of the lubricant contaminants along with consideration of monitoring the health of the equipment. This sampling method should allow the equipment to be tested under its typical operating condition while being non-obtrusive and maintaining a safe sampling method for the technician.

The Takeaway

Keeping your gearbox lubricant clean and free of wear debris will help lengthen the cycle of changes. Filtering and oil analysis when used as part of a normal lubrication management program, will not only keep your lubricant clean, but tell the tale of wear within the equipment. Smart maintainers have already incorporated these strategies, but if you have not, it is never too late. If you are not sure where to start with this, contact us and Trico will put you on the right track.