To avoid unnecessary errors, all grease guns should be clearly marked as to the grease it contains and personnel trained as to the proper use of each one. Likewise, all bearings should be tagged with the type of grease required.
How can lubrication deficiencies be detected? Lubrication charts and predictive maintenance programs provide only ballpark figures because they assume every bearing of the same size, running for an equal amount of time will use the same amount of grease. With testing it has been determined that this is not the case. All bearings are not created equal. Each one requires individual attention, with regard to lubrication, due to varying conditions of its use. Depending on its placement a bearing will be subject to different levels of stress, such as: varying weight loads, different levels of contamination, condition of bearing when installed, and temperature to name a few. Therefore, every bearing needs to be analyzed separately to determine the amount of grease required. To date, determining when a bearing needed grease and if, in fact, the grease reached it when applied, has been mostly guesswork correlated with the temperature rise of the bearing. Now with the diagnostic capabilities of the Ultra-Lube unit, improved ways to interpret the current condition of a bearing and what it requires to remain "healthy" are readily available.
As our plant started along the path of improved greasing with the Ultra-Lube unit, a startling discovery was made with our vibration analysis equipment. The "acceleration envelope" reading for early bearing detection, taken on the vibration monitoring data collector, displayed the increase in bearing noise level and thus signaled the need for grease. We could then see in detail what the Ultra-Lube was hearing. So then, why did we still require the Ultra Lube? The original vision saw every area of the plant using the Ultra-Lube unit in both mechanical and electrical maintenance. That vision still holds true, but the CM group (condition-monitoring group) became an integral part of the equation by identifying lubrication issues and reporting them to the area. It is then up to the maintenance technicians to carry out the greasing using UltraLube. The CM group supplies training by working with technicians on specific problems in their area as well as seminars. Once the technicians have a solid grasp of the basic concepts, they are on their own to grease those bearings reported with high noise levels, as well as other problem bearings they find on equipment not regularly monitored. To ensure success, occasional follow-up is important to keep the program on track and allow for exchange of new ideas.