Contamination control is the single greatest opportunity for gains in the average lube program. Significant gains in machinery reliability can be made with minimal investments.
To date, industry has treated the symptoms of oil contamination by filtering the lubricant, replacing the oil sooner than necessary, and rebuilding or replacing failed components at a very high cost.
Studies show it costs about 10 times as much to remove contaminants than it does to exclude it.
So, what are some of the ways you can keep contaminants from entering your system?
Filter new oil
Perhaps one of the most common misconceptions in maintenance and reliability is that the new oil we buy is clean enough for immediate use. The reality is new oil from drums or bulk deliveries usually contains anywhere from 2 to 20 times the amount of particles that is acceptable for most lubricated equipment.
Use good quality breathers
The desiccant breather replaces the standard dust cap or OEM breather cap on equipment, offering better filtration to protect against even the smallest particulates that destroy the effectiveness of your machinery.
Use sound application methods
When applying a lubricant to your machine it is important to make sure the lubricant is completely isolated from the environment throughout the entire transfer. Using a sealed oil transfer container with quick connects maintains best practice during application of the lubricant to your machine.
Implementing a color coding system also prevents adding the incorrect lubricant to a piece of equipment.
An oil seal’s primary function is to keep oil contained within the equipment, and its secondary function is to keep contaminants out of the oil. While they typically do a good job of keeping oil contained, dirt and moisture usually make their way around the lip of the seal and contaminate the lubricant. Because every application is different, consult an expert to learn what upgrade would be most beneficial to you.
Use hydraulic cylinder rod boots
When dirt, grit, metal chips, scale, and other substances impinge on exposed hydraulic or pneumatic cylinder rods, these contaminants not only shorten the life of the seals, but often can damage the rods themselves. Installing the proper protective rod boot can make a big difference in rod and seal life.
Utilize non-invasive inspection
Visual oil analysis, vibration analysis, and ultrasonic testing are all effective methods of proactive oil maintenance.
Use sound flushing practice for new or recently serviced equipment
New machines can have original fabrication debris and dirt that have entered the system during transport and storage. It is important to flush the reservoir prior to initial operation.