Unlocking Gear Box Lubrication

We uncovered an insightful article by the vaunted lubricant-additives manufacturer Lubrizol that helps to set the record straight about the changing needs of gear box lubrication in the 21st century. In a nutshell, gear boxes aren’t what they used to be and so, neither can be their lubricants.

Quoting Lubrizol, “Today’s gearboxes are made from new materials, which results in a lighter weight of the gearbox. They are required to produce more power and to be more durable and reliable than their predecessors. In addition, the teeth and bearing loads are also higher.” On top of these developments, gear boxes today are smaller than in previous decades, which means there’s less room for lubrication than in previous years. This of course can lead to more oxidation and higher operating temperatures, both of which will affect the gear box as well as the lubrication’s longevity.

To address these issues, lubrication must evolve even as gear boxes themselves have evolved and continue to evolve. Indeed, changing specifications such as GM LS-2 require gear box lubrication to continue to develop. One of the best ways for these lubricants to evolve is through the use of additives – an area of expertise for Lubrizol since World War 1.

Additives for gear box lubrication can help hard-working lubricants to handle extreme pressure, deactivate metals, modify friction and viscosity and more. These lubricants can then go beyond mere mineral-based gear oils and manifest special attributes needed for specific industries – such as increased load-carrying capabilities or the power to operate in contact with food or even be used in conjunction with work in wind turbines.

As gear boxes continue to evolve, so will additives and additive technology.

Contact Stevenson Oil today to learn about industrial oil and other lubrication options.

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Make Your Machines Work Better through “Precision” Lubrication

Much as the quality and quantity of a person’s blood determines his or her overall health and ability to act and navigate and function in the world, so does oil quality and quantity affect industrial machines and their performance capacities.

While it’s not always been thought of this way, the science of lubrication continues to evolve and develop focus, and the best practices or “precision” applications of oil and grease are now being heralded as the best way to increase productivity, lengthen the lives of machines, and therefore maximize profits while reducing machinery downtime. Grease and oil, it turns out, make the mechanical world go around. We already knew this, of course.

As Jane Alexander, the managing editor at Lubrication Technology magazine reports it, “precision” lubrication – once called “world-class” or “best practices” lubrication – is the technical art of using the correct lubrication solution, at the right time and in the right amount, while managing its quality via contamination control and oil analysis. By practicing this program of precise lube management, costs are reduced both in terms of lubrication expense as well as machinery repairs, and productivity is maximized due to reduced downtime and increased throughput. It’s not rocket science, but it does require attention and awareness.

Her recent article on the Lubrication technology web site, “Optimize Machine Health with Precision Lubrication,” features an interview with lubrication expert Jarrod Potteiger of Des-Case. In the article, Potteiger explains that ‘precision lubrication’ is basically a four-step program.

First, there’s the selection of the appropriate lubrication for the job at hand, including not assuming that the highest quality lubes are always needed – as these are more expensive and may not be necessary.

Second, determine the correct amount of lube needed as well as the frequency of its application – OEM instructions should always be referred to here for correct oil quantities, as overuse of the oil or grease lubrication can actually inhibit the best performance of the machinery.

“Oil-replacement frequencies can also vary,” reports Alexander. “Typical recommendations are conservative because, to be on the safe side, the OEM must recommend for harsh operating conditions. Actual, useful oil service life, however, can vary dramatically. Factors such as high operating temperatures, wear debris, moisture and sludge can shorten oil life. In a given application, the severity of these items, or lack thereof, can alter useful service life by an order of magnitude. Nonetheless, most oil-change frequencies for similar equipment can fit into neat periods, such as three, six or 12 months, and should only be scrutinized when severe conditions exist. Use of oil analysis allows for oil to be replaced based on actual conditions, which, in turn, removes guesswork.”

Third, lubrication contamination control is of vast importance, as what’s in the lubrication or what gets into the grease or oil can be quite destructive. As Potteiger explains it, “Many maintenance professionals don’t realize they have a problem with lubrication-related failures because they don’t properly characterize the failure or root cause. Most equipment failures are, in fact, lubrication-related.” The article goes on to report that about 80% of mechanical wear in machinery is caused by particle contamination in the oil. Thus, screening-out contaminants that arrive with the lubrication as well as preventing site-specific contamination after arrival is tantamount for the success of mechanical operations.

Lastly, continued and ongoing oil analysis is essential to keep lubrication at the “precision” level. Like other technologies, to get the most from lubricant science, repeated monitoring and testing is required to manage the finite qualities inherent in lubes and greases and to ensure that these lubrication resources continue to perform at optimum levels. Awareness, coupled with this four-step process, will eventually bring your lubrication operations to the “precision” level in the years to come.

Learn about diverse industrial oils and other lubricants that are available from Stevenson Oil.

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Good Lubrication Practices (GLP) and Rabinowicz Law

It’s always a great time in our industry to start thinking about Good Lubrication Practices, or GLP, across the board. Literally, lubrication keeps the gears of industry turning, and without it machinery and mechanical systems would come to a grinding halt.

An insightful article from the online version of Lubrication Technology explains why GLP is so important and offers some fascinating stats and figures as to how our nation is doing in the use of lubricants proactively for most of the major industries in the USA. Let’s start with an understanding of the so-called Rabinowicz Law.

According to studies performed by the illustrious Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Dr. Ernest Rabinowicz, loss of bearing surface usefulness, or moving equipment failure as it is more commonly known, can be blamed up to 70% of the time on mechanical wear and corrosion. This corrosion and wear almost always can be traced back to ineffective lubrication practices, which are preventable through the awareness and use of GLP at all times.

Quoting from the Lubrication Technology reporting on interpreting the Rabinowicz Law in light of P&L figures, “In practical terms, the impact of lubrication is astounding. GLP translates into asset availability, reliability, uptime, throughput, energy savings, carbon footprint reduction and profit. The Rabinowicz law states that ‘every year, 6% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is lost through mechanical wear.’ Applying Rabinowicz’s law to the 2014 estimated third-quarter U.S. GDP of $17.5 trillion, mechanical wear losses could amount to more than $1 trillion this year!” That’s a tremendous amount of money being wasted that could be saved via smart applications of existing lubrication technology.

So what are some of the findings from the article on how industry is doing in America when it comes to proactive lubrication practices? Read on to see, below.

  • Out of a sum total of 100 points for various lubrication practices and processes that industries should be incorporating as GLP for their facilities, the average score for all American industries is 43. That’s not even 50%.
  • Natural Resources scored highest at 54 points, with Facility Management lowest at 41 points for known, identified industries.
  • Only 21% of industries have had their lubrication program audited professionally in the past three years, with the remaining 79% choosing not to do so or being unaware of the opportunity. The Automotive industry and Natural Resources sector (mining, paper & pulp, oil & gas, forestry) had the highest amounts of audits at 30% each.
  • Just 28% of all combined sectors used dedicated lubrication personnel for this all-important task group. Only 12% of all sectors combined had professionally certified (STLE, ISO, ICML) personnel.
  • 61% of respondents reported their lubrication-related instances of machine failure or downtime.
  • Just 30% of respondents used oil analysis to determine oil-change intervals based on oil condition. This means that oftentimes, oil supplies needed changed and weren’t, and sometimes, oil that was still functioning was replaced before its time.
  • 43% report that they perform regular quarterly (or less) cleaning and system checks on their automated lubricant-delivery systems. Again, that’s less than 50% of respondents, and one reason the Rabinowicz Law exists.
  • For contamination control of lubricants, 51% of all sectors use dedicated lubricant transfer equipment, but regrettably, only 22% of all sectors have a lubricant cleanliness agreement with their oil suppliers.
  • On a very positive note, 90% of all sector respondents have MSDS information accessible for all lubricants on their sites. 87% operate a formal spill program, while 76% operate a formal waste-lubricant program. These are promising stats for employee safety and conservation.

As any informed reader can see, industries in American have a long way to go when it comes to GLP and proactive lubrication management. The good news is, these numbers are going up and more and more savvy companies are realizing the core value of lubrication for vast efficiencies and less downtime at facilities. Read the entire State of the Lubrication Nation article.

Learn more about industrial oil and other outstanding lubricants that are available at Stevenson Oil.

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