Mechanical machinery needs frequent and proper amounts of lubrication to perform optimally. There are two essential words in that previous sentence: frequent and proper. Under-lubricating and overlubricating can cause many problems for equipment down the road, including component wear and tear, decreased efficiency, and even total failure.
An automatic grease lubrication system takes away the challenges of manual lubrication by ensuring the optimal amount of grease or oil is being applied at the right points and during the right times. In this article, we’ll cover some of the additional benefits of automatic lubricators, how they work, and what it takes to integrate one into your facility.
The primary benefit of switching to automatic lubrication systems is of course, proper lubrication, which we mentioned earlier. The frequent lubrication that these systems offer help to reduce machine wear and tear by keeping internal components (especially bearings and axles) greased while in motion.
Aside from reduced wear and tear, additional benefits of automatic oil and grease lubrication systems include:
- Fewer Maintenance Issues: Because automatic lubrication systems know when and how to lubricate components, there will be less maintenance issues to take care of down the road.
- Eliminates Downtime: Most of the time, manual lubrication requires a total shutdown of equipment. With automatic lubrication systems, you don’t need to shut down the equipment at all, which eliminates downtime.
- Lower Repair Costs: Machines that are kept frequently lubricated are less likely to have seal failures as well as issues from excessive heat generation.
- Increased Lifecycle: An automatic lubrication system also helps increase the overall performance and lifecycle of your machinery, which also saves you money down the road on replacement equipment.
- Less Waste: When machines are lubricated by hand, it’s harder to avoid grease and oil spills. Automatic lubricators do a much more clean and efficient job.
How Automated Grease Lubrication Systems Work: A Component Breakdown
The components of automatic lubricators function mainly to measure, pump, and control a precise amount of grease or oil at predetermined bushings, bearings, and other lube points within equipment. These components include:
- Metering Device: The metering device provides a feed path to ensure the liquid is not simply taking the path of least resistance.
- Pump: Automatic lubricators have a pump that provides the pressure to force flow oil or grease to the metering device. The system’s pump will also determine the flow rate and pressure of the closed loop system.
- Controller: The controller acts as the brains of the entire system, running the pump and opening the metering devices at a preprogrammed time. The controller may feature sensors to detect specific conditions within the system, such as pressure, temperature, flow rate, etc.
- Industrial Hose & Tubing: The entire automatic grease lubrication system is connected with industrial hose and tubing that can withstand the system’s pressure levels. The hose and tubing are also resistant to deterioration from oil and grease. The supply line tubing must be designed with the right diameter to not impede flow or increase system pressures.
Constraints & Limitations
Although automatic lubrication systems come with a wide array of benefits, it’s important that you also understand some of the challenges of implementing one into your facility.
First, you must choose the right type of lubrication system. The type of system you need will depend on your application. For example, a single-line parallel system is an easy, cost-effective automated lubrication system, but it is not ideal for cold temperatures or very long oil supply line runs. Additionally, the type of system you choose may have its own setbacks.
If you implement a single-progressive lubrication system, know that they can become temporarily disabled when there is a blockage. These blockages can be easily detected using system control and monitoring, but it is still a risk with these types of systems.
Next, dual-line parallel systems can handle long pumping distances, extreme temperatures, and extremely viscous/heavy greases, but they tend to be more expensive and are also less suitable for smaller applications.
Lastly, you may have to consider adding in more lube points and fine-tuning feed rates.
Regardless of these minor setbacks, there is no question that automatic lubricators are a valuable addition to any facility—you just need to make sure you’re selecting the right one.
Learn More About Automated Grease Lubrication Systems From DropsA
Have questions about automatic grease or oil lubrication systems? Turn to DropsA North America! Founded in 1983, we’re a U.S.-based and ISO 9001-certified automatic lubrication system manufacturer. We offer a wide array of solutions for facilities, including oil lubrication, grease lubrication, air/oil lubrication, oil recirculation lubrication, and MQL.