If you’ve ever needed an instruction manual for the instruction manual, you’re not alone. Too much information or not enough, the language used or distorted pictures. It can leave you with leftover parts, a product that doesn’t get used or worse, is used incorrectly.
Selecting the proper lubrication grease for your equipment is critical and the process can be equally as challenging. Here are some tips and information to help get you on the right track.
- Review the manufacturer’s equipment design specifications and lubrication recommendations.
- Determine the operating environment for the equipment; conditions affect how grease functions.
- Select the desired characteristics of grease that will be suited to the application.
- Check the product information sheet and compare tests to see which grease is most applicable.
- Pay attention to distribution; grease guns have high pressure and need a good pumping system.
- Understand each grease point; too much or not enough grease can cause a variety of problems.
- Grease attracts dirt; keep fittings clean and contaminants out as best as possible.
- Work with industry professionals who can advise you on the best lubricant for your equipment.
Different equipment, tasks and conditions will require the grease to perform in various ways, so taking the “one-grease-fits-all” approach is not necessarily the best solution. For example, if the viscosity is too low, metal-to-metal contact occurs and that leads to welding. Or, if the water resistance is too low, it causes rust.
Characteristics to be considered when selecting the right grease for an application:
- Pumpability – Ease which grease flows through a system – lines, nozzles, and fittings.
- Water Resistance – Ability to maintain lubricity in presence of water. Soap/water can wash it away.
- Consistency – Refers to the NLGI grade; firmness of grease tells how well it will stay in a joint.
- Dropping Point – Resistance to heat and the temperature it becomes fluid enough to drip.
- Oxidation Stability – Ability to resist mixing with oxygen, which can cause deposits & sluggishness.
- High Temp Effects – Ability to transfer high heat away to avoid oxidation or carbonization.
- Low Temp Effects – Too low causes grease to harden, affecting pumpability & operations.
It is also important to be aware that grease is applied only when using oil is impractical or inconvenient and the two cannot be used in place of one another. To further assist your selection process, it will also help to understand how grease functions and some of it’s more common applications.
Functional Properties include:
- Acts as a sealant to reduce leakage, keep out contaminants and maintain weakened seals.
- Suspends solid lubricants that are mixed with it for high-temp or extreme pressure applications.
- Due to its consistency, is more easily contained with less costly devices as opposed to oil.
- Fluid level does not have to be controlled or monitored.
Applications most suitable:
- Machinery used intermittently or stored for lengthy periods of time.
- Machinery that is difficult to access or is “sealed-for-life” such as gearboxes.
- Machinery functioning in extreme conditions, such as high heat or pressure, shock loads or slow speed under heavy load.
- Aging components that require more protection or need added life.