Lubricating systems are systems used to assist the smooth and healthy operation of rotating machinery parts like gears, bearings, dies, chains, spindles, cables, pumps, and rails. Without lubricating systems, many industrial and manufacturing processes would wear down from friction and require maintenance much more quickly.
Industries that take advantage of the benefits offered by lubrication systems include the automotive industry, food and beverage, mining, printing, and industrial machining. In addition, lubricating systems are often used in power plants, oilfields, and steel processing facilities, as well as in the home for computer and car maintenance. Lubricants can be a solid, a solid/liquid dispersion, a liquid, a grease, or a gas. Most often, lubricating systems use oil, which is considered a liquid, or grease.
Oil makes an excellent lubricant because, as a liquid, it does not adhere to surfaces, and because it has a fairly high level of viscosity. The best oils for these applications are mineral oils like petroleum because they resist degeneration much longer than organic oils. Grease is a semisolid that is even more viscous than oil. The grease used in lubrication systems is not the kind that comes from animal fat. Rather, it is a combination of soap and mineral or vegetable oil.
More and more frequently, grease is also being made with synthetic oils, such as silicones, hydrogenated polyolefins, fluorocarbons, and esters. This change is rooted in, one, the affordability of synthetic oils and, two, the broader range of viscosities, consistencies, and environmental impact that they offer. Either way, grease is used on parts that require less lubrication, since it lasts longer and requires less upkeep. Read More…
The majority of lubricating systems available for industrial applications are automatic, operating with preprogrammed settings rather than by the supervision of an individual. Automatic lubrication systems (ALS), also called centralized lubrication systems, deliver controlled amounts of lubricant to different locations on a machine as it runs.
These systems are able to provide simultaneous lubrication of different machine parts by attaching themselves to the machine. Note that, though automated, some systems may require the engagement of a manual pump or activation button to start. For the upkeep of stationary manufacturing equipment, like CNC milling machines, oil-based lubricating systems offer the best service. For mobile units like trucks, construction equipment, or mining equipment, grease systems work best.
Though automatic lubrication systems vary by compatibility and configuration, they all share five primary components: a controller/timer, a pump with a reservoir, a supply line, metering valves/injectors and feed lines. The controller, or timer, is the mechanism used to activate and shut off the lubricating system, either externally or from inside the pump.
The purpose of said pump is to transport lubricant into the main system from the reservoir, where it is stored. On its journey to reach its destination, the lubricant must first pass through the supply line, which is connected to the pump. From the supply line, the lubricant is carried to the metering valves, or injectors, where it is measured and dispensed into the feed lines. Via the feed lines, the lubricant is finally delivered to its predetermined application points.
Beyond this, there are a variety of systems designed for specific lubrication applications. These include chain oilers, air lubricators, gas pumps, and constant level oilers. Chain oilers are designed to work with rail or chain. Air lubricators, on the other hand, provide both lubrication and filtration to compressed air lines. They may be installed outside of the air system, but more often, they are built directly into the air line, where they are able to provide constant lubrication to all the mechanisms inside it.
Gas pump lubricators are designed to keep fuel pumps from becoming dry, which can cause permanent damage. Finally, constant level oilers are used to maintain the fluid level in different kinds of equipment. In particular, they help bearings, gearboxes, pump housings, and pillow blocks from losing too much moisture and generating friction.
Those interested in setting up one or more lubricating systems for themselves should take a few things into consideration. First, they must decide between oil-based systems and grease-based systems. Of course, if they have applications with different needs, they can always set up both oil and grease lubricating systems in their facility.
In addition, they must make sure that whatever lubricant they select is compatible with the temperatures, speeds, and torques at which their machines operate. Some oil bases have better stability than others. Also, for the same reason, they should take into account the environment in which they work. Customers must also decide what system configuration will best meet their application requirements.