Single Line Lubrication Systems

single line lubrication systemsWhat Is a Single Line Lubrication System? As the name suggests, a single line lubrication system is one that delivers a lubricant to a target component using a single supply line. It features a central pump station that automatically sends lubricant to metering devices. Each metering device serves a single lubrication point and can be adjusted to suit the needs of the application. Single line lubrication systems are sometimes called progressive lubrication systems.

Single line setups are the most common type of automatic lubrication system. These automatic lubricators are used for machine tools, printing machines, steel industry, railroad, construction machines, forestry, industrial automation and more.

Typically, single line systems use consumption lubricant; however, circulation lubricant is also an option in some applications. Most systems can support up to 100 lubrication points and line lengths of up to 30 meters.

How Do Single Line Systems Work?

Lubricating with a single line system is the simplest setup for automated lubricated distribution. A pump pushes lubricant from a storage tank through the main line. Connected to that main line is a series of single line distributors. These distributors pump a certain amount of lubricant to the metering devices where it is applied to the target component. This is typically done on a volumetric basis, independent of viscosity and backpressure.

The distributors can be either pre-lubrication or relubrication distributors. In the case of the former, lubricant is pushed into the lines while pressure is building up in the system. For the latter, the lubricant is pumped after pressure has been built up.

Benefits of a Single Line Lubrication System

Beyond lubricating mechanical components, single line auto lube systems provide a variety of benefits. These are some of the key reasons why you may choose this system over other lubrication solutions:

  • Simplicity: A single line setup is simple compared to other such lubrication systems. It is easy to conceptualize and understand. Therefore, it tends to be one of the easiest options to install, manage and maintain. That conceptual simplicity also translates to operational simplicity.
  • Automated and Effective Lubrication: Your system can deliver lubricant to all the necessary parts rapidly, consistently and with no human intervention. While any lubrication system needs periodic maintenance, a single line system is as close to “set it and forget it” as you can get.
  • Compatibility With Many Lubricants: Single line systems can handle almost all lubricant types. Therefore, you can be confident that your system will likely work with whatever lubricant you are currently using and any that you may switch to in the future. More complex systems often cannot handle all types of lubricants.
  • Reliability: Thanks to the simplicity of single line setups, they tend to be highly reliable. They don’t break down often and, when they do, they can be fixed promptly.
  • Robustness: Furthermore, these single line systems are usually very robust against damage and failure. If part of the system fails, such as a distributor, the rest of the system can continue to operate. Of course, a blockage in the main line could have widespread effects; however, a failure at a more remote point will usually only affect the local area.
  • Ease of Expansion: When you want to add new components to your system, expanding is typically simple. Until you reach the load maximum of your pump, you can just keep expanding.
  • Broad Capabilities: Single line systems can pump long distances, support many lubrication points and handle a variety of temperatures. This dovetails with the lubricant compatibility to make single line setups extremely flexible.

Single Line vs. Dual Line Lubrication System

Dual line lubrication systems feature a central pump, metering devices and supply lines to deliver lubricant to target components, much like single line systems. However, unlike their single line cousins, dual line systems have two main supply lines. These are typically designed to work in alternating fashion with each line switching between pressurizing and venting (when line A is pressurized, line B vents and vice versa).

Additionally, there are multiple injector outlets throughout the system. These are able to work independently, unlike those in a single line progressive system. Therefore, they can be more spread out and more numerous.

Naturally, this is a much more complicated system design. Therefore, it lacks some of the ease of use and reliability of a single line design. However, dual line systems are less likely to become over-pressurized. Additionally, they can usually manage much longer lines and more metering devices. In some cases, they can be spread out over hundreds or thousands of feet. Dual line systems are also better designed for circulation lubricant.

Single line systems are often the better choice in situations that call for simplicity, reliability and flexibility. Dual line systems tend to outperform in situations that call for distance, performance and/or more consistent pressure.

Types of Single Line Systems

There are two major types of single line lubrication systems, differentiated by how they circulate lubricant: progressive and parallel. Single line progressive lubrication systems are more common than single line parallel systems. Below is a little specific information from industrial lubrication specialists DropsA USA about each option.

Single Line Progressive Lubrication Systems

Single line progressive systems are the simplest form of lubrication systems. They use the lubrication flow to empower the specific metering devices along the supply line. The primary metering valve along the supply line and the various secondary metering valves at lubrications points manage the system pressure. They ensure that the whole system is supplied with lubricant and that each target component is receiving the correct amount for its needs.

Single Line Parallel Lubrication Systems

A single line parallel lubrication system is something of a hybrid between traditional single line progressive systems and dual line systems. Like the former, it only has a single supply line. However, like the latter, it has injector outlets, meaning the system can be larger and more complex. These systems are sometimes called single line automatic lubrication systems.

Compared to a dual line system, a single line parallel lubrication system can handle more variable lubricant volumes. Additionally, it is somewhat less complicated, making it a potentially good compromise option between a single line progressive and dual line.

Common Applications for Single Line Systems

The number of applications for single line systems is almost as varied as the number of applications for lubricant. Any system that requires regular lubrication of various components can benefit from a single line setup. There are some situations that are better served by a dual line system; however, single line systems will always be able to get the job done. These are a few examples of common applications:

  • Industrial machinery
  • Cement industry
  • Railroad applications
  • Commercial vehicles
  • Construction machinery
  • Forestry applications
  • Steel industry
  • On/off-road machines
  • Food and beverage industry
  • Machine automation
  • Printing and binding machinery

There are many other uses for single line lube systems. Depending on the need, these systems are used to lubricate a single component, multiple components or even multiple machines simultaneously. They are highly flexible and capable of handling a broad range of requirements.

Lubrication Systems and Solutions

DropsA USA has a wide selection of lubrication systems and components. Check out our catalog to learn a little more about our lubrication solutions and how they can help your business.