Three bearing lubrication mistakes

Friction enables us to do everything from drive a car to simply walk to the shops. However, when it comes to operating plant machinery, friction can present us with as many problems as it does solutions.

If you are involved in lubricating plant machinery, then you will probably be in a constant battle with friction that can cut the life of rolling elements within your equipment. This is particularly true if you are dealing with rolling element bearings, 40 percent of which never make it to their engineered end of life primarily because of poor lubrication practices.

Here are three of the most common mistakes people make when greasing bearings, which you should avoid at all costs:

Lubrication based on time and not condition

Many plants think that they are doing well by scheduling weekly or monthly lubrication for their machinery. However, this is not necessarily the best way you apply lubricant. You see, lubricant’s only use inside machinery is to reduce friction, so if it is doing its job, it does not need to be changed or added to.

A better way to go about lubrication is to only carry out the task when friction levels start to creep and this means that you should be monitoring friction levels on a constant basis, using a dedicated monitor.

Under or over lubrication

It might seem like no big deal to add slightly incorrect amounts of lubricant to your machinery, however it is a simple mistake that can lead to complex problems. For example, too much lubricant in the system will cause a build-up of pressure, which in turn will cause bearings to work a lot harder. This will increase operating temperature and can lead to malfunction and early failure. The same is true when too little lube is added.

The only way to be sure you have added the right amount of lube is to use ultrasound to monitor friction levels as new lube is added a little at a time.

Monitoring with a listen-only ultrasound instrument

Just listening to a bearing is not enough to determine how much lubricant is required – you also need to measure levels because, apart from anything else, everyone is different and no two people will hear exactly the same thing.