Save Time, Save Money

Done properly, manual lubrication is a time-consuming process. Grease guns have to be prepared with the correct lubricant(s) and in order to gain safe access to all of the lubrication points production processes may have to be stopped, guards opened and/or specialist equipment such as man lifts may be needed.

This has to be done regularly, perhaps every week, every fortnight or every month.

It is little wonder that, in many plants, the most difficult-to-access lubrication points often receive fewer visits and therefore less lubricant than planned.

Even when a comprehensive lubrication plan is in place and rigidly followed, the nature of manual lubrication can lead to problems. A simple grease gun can generate 200 bar or more of pressure, without undue effort from the operator. There is a strong temptation to pump quickly and move on, which can lead to overpressure in the bearings and the displacement or rupturing of seals. In a fast running bearing too much grease can be more dangerous than not enough; resulting in the rolling elements skidding instead of rolling and causing the bearing to overheat. Damaged seals allow contamination and moisture to enter and further accelerate wear. Contamination and water can also be drawn in to bearings that are under lubricated and be pumped in if the grease nipple or grease gun are not cleaned thoroughly before each application.

Can we quantify the results of these problems? Analysis by leading bearing manufacturers of bearings that failed earlier than anticipated are reasonably consistent. Around 15% fail due to damage caused by incorrect mounting*. Around 34% of failures are due to either too much or too little lubricant and another 16% or so because of contamination.  This means that fully 50% of early bearing failures are self-inflicted, attributable to the lubrication practices in use.

Imagine if a way could be found to ensure that all these manual lubrication points received a slow, continuous flow of the correct lubricant at a pressure that could not dislodge or damage a seal. Now imagine if this solution could do this for up to 12 months at a time without intervention. How many breakdowns would this save? How much more useful work could the maintenance crew do if they no longer had to go through the lubrication plan every week, every fortnight or every month?

You don’t have to imagine: the Swiss company simatec AG have been delivering such solutions for 25 years. The simalube single point lubrication system consists of a range of compact, self-contained oil and grease dispensers that can be mounted at each lubrication point. Construction and operation is similar to a syringe but with a patented electrochemical cell producing gas in place of a plunger. The cell is activated and set by means of an Allen key and, once the pressure behind the piston increases beyond the back-pressure at the outlet, lubricant begins to flow in a slow even manner.

The setting disc is calibrated 1 to 12, representing months to empty the dispenser. The setting can be adjusted at any time to find the ideal supply rate for each lubrication point. A simple smartphone app provides a suggested starting point based upon the characteristics of the application or the current lubrication plan data. By eliminating the waste inherent in filling grease guns and overfilling bearings, the ideal delivery from a simalube will almost always mean that lubricant consumption significantly decreases. This means less mess and a cleaner, safer workplace in addition to cost savings.

The dispensers are available in a range of five sizes containing between 15 ml and 250 ml of lubricant. They are all sealed to IP68 and intrinsically safe for use in ATEX zone 1. They can be safely used on machines surrounded by explosive gas or dust and underground in mines. They require no special handling in such environments.

The patented gas producing cells are compact but extremely powerful and can overcome back pressure of up to 5 bar. This is enough for most applications and allows the unit to pump NLGI 2 grease up to 0.6m through a 6 mm ID tube. This provides mounting flexibility and decoupling from vibration and sources of heat. Clamps with powerful magnetic fixtures mean that in many cases remote tube mounting is quick and requires no modification of the machine.

If the back pressure is higher or a longer tube is required then a battery-powered booster called IMPULSE can increase the output pressure up to 10 bar. This is sufficient to allow mounting the simalube unit up to 4m away from the lubrication point in any direction. This means the simalube can be mounted where it can be easily accessed from the safety of a stairway, gantry or walkway, thus eliminating the need for special access equipment and improving safety.

The IMPULSE unit fits between the simalube and the lubrication point. The simalube unit still controls the delivery rate and the grease in the reservoir remains at low pressure until it is boosted by the pump. Thus the IMPULSE itself requires no setting but it does use red/green LEDS to provide a status indication that can be seen at a distance. By locating the simalube reservoir away from heat and vibration and maintaining it at a low pressure the grease inside is kept in the best possible condition until it is pumped into the lubrication point.

The units are normally supplied pre-filled with one of a range of standard greases and oils designed to cover a wide variety of applications from quarrying to food production. They are also supplied empty to allow customers to use their own special lubricants for particular applications.

A comprehensive range of accessories is also available including brushes designed to both clean and lubricate chains, gears and guides.

Once empty the units are fully recyclable. The gas cell can be unscrewed and recycled with standard dry-cell batteries. The remaining housing goes into normal PET recycling like a drinks bottle.

So, in summary, by installing simalube single point lubrication there is a simple way to:

  1. Optimise lubricant delivery
  2. Prevent unexpected breakdowns
  3. Reduce lubricant usage
  4. Increase safety
  5. Free up maintenance staff for other tasks
  6. Reduce waste with a 100% recyclable product

All of these benefits ultimately lead to savings in both time and money and provide peace of mind.

*simatec AG also manufacture specialist equipment to make the mounting of bearings easy and safe.

The simatherm range of induction heaters and hotplates allows parts to be heated fast and efficiently allowing accurate placement before they shrink gently into position.

The simatool range includes a range of precision engineered rings that ensure force is transferred equally to the inner and outer rings of a rolling bearing and not transferred through the rolling elements. The force can be applied with a non-rebound hammer (FT-33) or by means of a press (FT-P).

The simatool range also includes tools for the removal of bearings and seals in a professional way. These ensure that the bores and shafts onto which they are mounted are not damaged or scored and so do not damage the replacement parts.