MRO Magazine

Holster that Grease Gun!

Whether you know it as an automatic lubrication system (ALS), an autogreaser or a centralized grease lubrication system, an ALS automatically lubricates multiple points on a piece of equipment from a ...


December 1, 2010
By MRO Magazine

Whether you know it as an automatic lubrication system (ALS), an autogreaser or a centralized grease lubrication system, an ALS automatically lubricates multiple points on a piece of equipment from a centralized pump/control unit that is mounted in an easily accessible location.

Such a system dispenses small, measured amounts of lubricant at frequent intervals, while your equipment is operating, thus maintaining the correct amount of grease in the bearing at all times and a consistent lubricant seal to prevent dirt and contaminants from migrating into bearings.

“In talking with people who don’t currently use automatic lubrication systems, we often hear statements like ‘Even if I use an autogreaser, I still have to do a walk-around to inspect the system’,” says Gabriel Lopez, a marketing specialist with Flo Components Ltd., Mississauga, ON. “This is absolutely correct. An automatic lubrication system will not replace your regular equipment maintenance inspection. You still have to check for loose or damaged lines and make sure that everything is operating smoothly.

“What an ALS does is take the grease gun out of your hand and replace it with a wrench. Then, you can use the grease lines as a guide and have the opportunity to focus on making any necessary adjustments or repairs as you conduct your regular inspection.”

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So you might ask, what’s the point of using an ALS? According to Lopez, there are eight reasons why you would use one:

1. Safety: An ALS helps to reduce or eliminate climbing over and under machinery or into difficult-to-reach areas. Whether you’re an owner/operator of a single piece of equipment, or the maintenance manager for a large operation, the safety of personnel in the workplace is a key consideration.

2. Efficient lubrication: An ALS applies grease while the machine is running, so you don’t have to stop what you’re doing or set aside time to lubricate it — in other words, less downtime. Furthermore, because the bearing is turning when it receives the grease, you get much better grease coverage on the bearing.

3. Better lubrication: Applying grease is often most effective when it is dispensed in small, measured amounts over short, frequent time intervals. Unfortunately, tight deadlines and manpower constraints, harsh environments, severe-service conditions or in some cases the location of the equipment often make this method of lubrication impossible.

Equipment gets greased when it’s available, and when we have the time and somebody available to do it. Clearly, this approach is not optimal for the point that requires lubrication. An ALS makes this problem go away.

4. Better housekeeping: How much grease is too much? According to Lopez, “If you’re old-school, you keep pumping it in until you see it oozing out of the bearing. This is called over-lubrication.” As previously stated, frequent and small, measured amounts will give your bearings the best protection.

In addition to no over/under lubrication, this also means that you get less spillage and leakage. The end results are less wasted lubricant and less mess on your equipment, floor, site, etc. Appearance aside, safety issues (from the danger of slipping) and environmental concerns are even more important problems resolved by using an automated lubrication system.

5. Less downtime and reduced maintenance costs: Time and manpower constraints often make it nearly impossible to keep up with the lubrication requirements of equipment, especially in the harsh Canadian climate. The preventive maintenance provided by an ALS is absolutely key to reducing maintenance costs and minimizing downtime by extending the life of the many pivots, bushings and components on equipment. This also means there will be also fewer replacement parts to stock.

6. Increased overall productivity: Higher productivity results from an increase in machine availability and a reduction in downtime due to breakdowns or general maintenance.

7. Longer equipment life: Because bearing areas are consistently protected and your machinery in general is better maintained, bearings are less likely to fail and need replacement.

8. Helps the environment: For the environment, reduced premature wear of bearings and other components means less landfill. Also, since you’re not over-greasing, you’re depleting fewer resources from the environment and you’re not contaminating the environment with dripping lubricant.

FLO Components Ltd. of Mississauga, ON, has been supplying automatic lubrication systems using components from Lincoln Industrial for over 30 years. For details, visit www.flocomponents.com,or use the reader service number below.

Reader Service Card No. 410


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