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Machines and many mechanical systems rely on lubricants for their efficiency and to reduce friction among their gears. In fact, most companies strive for lubrication-enabled reliability, which requires them to achieve four big objectives, namely: correct lubricant selection, stabilized lubricant health, contamination control and a sustained and adequate lubricant supply.

Industrial Lubricants and the Unknown Dangers of Lubricant Starvation

Most machines fail because industries fail to achieve the fourth objective, namely achieving an adequate supply of lubricants, thus leading to other abnormal machine wear, including overheating, contamination and misalignment. These can often be ascribed to one overlooked root cause: lubricant starvation. Ignoring lubricant starvation can lead to further problems or even gradual damage, which is why having an adequate supply of industrial lubricants should never be overlooked.

Usual Signs of Lubricant Starvation

Lubricant starvation happens when a machine or a mechanical system is depleted of its lubricant supply, thus making the lubricant film that keeps bearings, gears and slides apart is no longer able to protect or support the surfaces. Once surface-to-surface contact occurs and these two surfaces rub together, friction is produced, which consequently produces heat.

Extreme heat is often the most telltale sign of lubricant starvation, but one particular way of establishing this event even before heat occurs is by vibration analysis. This is able to detect any subtle vibration changes with the machinery, thus identifying lubricant starvation even before extreme heat occurs. Aside from heat, a machine may also produce smoke and give off an oily smell, while your hands can also identify subtle changes with temperature that may be caused by lubricant starvation.

The Dangers of Lubricant Starvation

Lubricants have six functions overall, namely: wear and friction control, corrosion control, temperature control, contamination control and transmitting force and motion that’s vital in any machinery. Each of these functions are severely affected by starvation, more particularly wear, friction and temperature control. Gears that heat up more quickly than normal can lead to a machine’s failure, and in worst cases could even weld together and unexpectedly tear apart, thus producing large amounts of debris.

Starvation isn’t just regarded as a “silent destroyer” of machines; it also comes in varying degrees. The most severe form of lubricant starvation will almost immediately cause sudden failures, while more moderate forms will usually go unnoticed until serious problems arise, which will often be falsely blamed on other factors.

One way to avoid lubricant starvation is to always have an adequate supply of lubricants, available from companies like Apache Oil Company. The adequateness of lubricant supply might vary from a machine to another, but it’s an often overlooked objective among plants striving for lubrication-enabled reliability that should never be ignored.

 

Sources:

The Hidden Dangers of Lubricant Starvation, Machinery Lubrication

Signs of Lubricant Starvation, Machinery Lubrication

Posted on Jul 6, 2015

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Kenny Isbell

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