The benefits of clean, contamination-free lubrication

11 October 2021

The lifeblood of modern industrial machines are their lubricants. These oils and greases work to reduce friction, dissipate heat, prevent corrosion, and carry away debris. But contaminated lubricants? They’re machine killers.

There was a time when industrial machinery was simpler and could withstand the years of abuse caused by limited lubrication options. Today’s modern machinery is more complicated and delicate. Finer tolerances in engineering have driven the need for superior lubrication systems. Without them, the health and efficiency of equipment is compromised and the success of your operations are at risk. 
The most effective way to protect equipment and keep it running for the long-haul is to ensure oils are clean and contamination-free.
 
In this post, we’re discussing the risks of dirty, contaminated lubricants and the benefits to your operations by eliminating them.

But first, what is contamination?

 

Contamination

Contamination is the introduction of any undesired element into lubricating oils or greases. Consider everything from dust to water a contaminant – even other lubricants.
 
There are two sources of contamination:
  • external sources — where foreign particulates and substances enter the lubrication system
  • internal sources — where debris and particulates from the machine contaminate the oil
 
The primary method of assessing contamination is by measuring particle counts with oil analysis. Particle count is referenced against the relevant ISO Codes to quantify a fluid’s cleanliness and suitability for use. This analysis is a valuable tool for proactive maintenance and should be performed regularly.

Common contaminates

  • water
  • air
  • wear particulates and debris
  • fuel
  • other lubricants
  • coolant
  • soaps and detergents

Learn more about oil analysis here and the ISO cleanliness codes here:

 

Risks

The primary function of lubricating oil is to reduce the friction and heat caused by machine surfaces sliding against each other. But contaminated oil starts losing its lubricating characteristics. Friction becomes unabated, and the rate of mechanical wear accelerates. This has direct effects on life expectancy and performance that include:
  • lowering energy efficiency
  • slowing response
  • increasing operating heat
  • jamming
  • cracking and leaking
  • adhesion, shearing and welding
…and eventually, catastrophic mechanical failure.
 
The critical danger of contamination is the complete and unexpected shutdown of operations. And the costs of unplanned downtime, financial and otherwise, can spiral out of control:
  • lost productivity
  • emergency repairs
  • replacement expenses
  • safety hazards
  • environmental impacts

 

Benefits

Contaminated lubricants result in high and unnecessary costs for industrial operations. But through regular servicing with contamination-free lubricants you can improve the health and performance of machinery and ensure the success of your operations.
  • Longer equipment life spans It’s estimated that 70-80% of loss of usefulness in industrial equipment is caused by mechanical wear. Clean lubrication reduces friction and subsequently mechanical wear.
  • Lower maintenance costs – With less mechanical wear comes less potential for breakdowns and the need to replace parts. Regular servicing with clean lubricants are the best way to avoid the costs of emergency repairs and unexpected maintenance.
  • Safer operations – When equipment fails, there is an increased likelihood of injury to operators and other personnel. Machinery that is durable and reliably performs is essential for a safe work environment.
  • Increased operating hours – Machinery that is down for maintenance or repairs costs your operation in lost operating hours. Clean lubrication increases productivity by running longer and more reliably.
  • Maximised performance and efficiency – High-performance lubricants are designed to increase power and reduce fuel-consumption. But to get the most performance out of any lubricant you must ensure it is clean and contamination-free.

 

Conclusion

There are many lubrication best practices, but they all begin with proper storage, handling and dispensing.

Our LUBESTATION® modules are engineered for fast, easy and contamination-free lubrication storage and dispensary.

  • Fully customisable to your requirements.
  • Supplied complete and ready to use
  • Self-contained and transportable
Learn more about our lubricant dispensing systems here.

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