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Why Automatic Lubrication for General Industries?

Keeping industrial machinery up and running

An automatic lubrication system is one that provides your equipment with the right amount of lubricant at the right time and in the right place – usually while the machine is in operation. It replaces a conventional lubrication system such as a grease gun. 

Why is it necessary?

“The effects of under-lubrication are well-known: increased component wear, premature failure, higher energy usage, increased operating and maintenance costs,” says Charles Hartl, Global Product Marketing Manager Lubrication Equipment Division at Graco. “But the effects of over-lubrication can be just as harmful. It wastes lubricant, can lead to excess heat build-up, puts stress on lube points, and increases downtime. The solution is obvious: optimal lubrication.”

Main components

The pump and reservoir store and provide a steady flow of lubricant. Pumps come in all sorts and sizes, such as pumps for grease and oil with a wide variety of outputs to handle the smallest to the largest automatic lubrication jobs.

A controller is necessary to activate and monitor the system – although in many industrial in-plant applications Graco often uses machine PLCs. If not, Graco provides time- or cycle-based controllers for any industrial application, and are suitable for cycle completion, high system pressure, low lube indication, low pressure and more.

Metering is at the heart of an automatic lubrication system, to ensure that the right amount of lubricant is dispensed to all the lubrication points. A metering system has to be accurate, reliable and durable, and capable of meeting all requirements such as long-runs, high pressure, continuous lube…

Optional accessories to further enhance performance can include monitoring and detection accessories such as simple shut-down devices, low level switches, blow-out discs for high-pressure detection or performance indicators. And of course hoses and fittings are necessary to complete the system.

Graco provides a wide portfolio of complete automatic lubrication solutions that contain all the components necessary. Based on pneumatic, hydraulic or electric drives, they are suitable for all types of industrial application, and can be tailored for a specific application.

 

 

 

 

Which system to choose?

“In whatever industry and for whatever application you need automatic lubrication, it’s important to choose the right solution,” explains Hartl. “Graco lubrication experts can take you through a series of questions to help you work out which solution might be the best for you.”

Typical questions include:

  • How many lube points are there?
  • What kind of power source do I have?
  • How long is the lube line run length?
  • What type of lubrication material do I use?
  • What kind of feedback do I want?
  • Indoor or outdoor use?

Use the following guidelines to steer you towards the optimal automatic lubrication solution.

Case: Improved monitoring of stamping press

An industrial manufacturer was looking for a more advanced automatic lubrication system for their Bliss Clearing Niagara (BCN) stamping press. In particular, the system should provide better monitoring and feedback.

Their search led them to Airkye Fluid Power who was able to support BCN and their end user by providing an engineered solution with Graco products. The Graco lubrication systems were a perfect fit. Since the preferred power source was air, a Modu-Flo™ pneumatic pump package was selected. The Modu-Flo pump is used to feed MSP® series progressive divider valves equipped with Zero-Leak valves. These valves allow the system to be zone controlled, preventing over-lubrication of zones which do not require as much lubrication. Each master divider valve was equipped with a proximity cycle switch which precisely monitors the operation of the valves to ensure that all zones are working properly. Moreover, the MSP valve sections can be removed without dismantling the tubing, thus reducing downtime.

Their search led them to Airkye Fluid Power who was able to support BCN and their end user by providing an engineered solution with Graco products. The Graco lubrication systems were a perfect fit. Since the preferred power source was air, a Modu-Flo™ pneumatic pump package was selected. The Modu-Flo pump is used to feed MSP® series progressive divider valves equipped with Zero-Leak valves. These valves allow the system to be zone controlled, preventing over-lubrication of zones which do not require as much lubrication. Each master divider valve was equipped with a proximity cycle switch which precisely monitors the operation of the valves to ensure that all zones are working properly. Moreover, the MSP valve sections can be removed without dismantling the tubing, thus reducing downtime.

The system also provided the desired feedback that the customer needed to ensure their lubrication system was functioning correctly. System design allowed for easy feedback options for positive assurance of a successful lube event.

Case: Keeping conveyors running

Maintenance crew working in a steel mine were having to shut down production to manually lubricate the bearings on oscillating and straight line conveyors. This posed a problem not only because of the reduction in operating time, but also due to safety concerns for the maintenance crew.

The solution was to install Graco’s G3™ Max Control Pump along with Graco GL-1™ injectors to automate the lubrication cycle for all bearings on the conveyors. A total of ten GL-1™ injectors were installed as part of the lube system.

The customer experienced a reduction in downtime due to the elimination of the need to lower the conveyors and stop production to manually lubricate the bearings. This also resulted in a reduction in safety concerns as maintenance personnel no longer had to be elevated in the air during the disassembly process of the conveyors.

Case: Tailored lube system for material handling unit

A global material handling OEM was faced with the challenge of developing a cost-competitive lubrication system. They had used competitive lubrication systems in the past, and were unhappy with the performance and service they were receiving from their current lubrication equipment supplier. The challenge was not only that the equipment is in a demanding application and historically damaging for lubrication systems, but there was a time constraint to develop a new design and still meet the OEM’s delivery schedule.

Graco and their local distributor were able to offer a cost competitive lubrication system

based on the Graco G3 Pro Control model. MSP series progressive divider valves were chosen to make the system user-friendly and to provide the ideal amount of lubrication to all bearings on the material handling unit. After the design was established a schematic and parts list was provided to the OEM to assist with acquiring the right components and to aid in the installation process.

 

After installation was completed the OEM expressed appreciation for the support from Graco and their distributor. Fast response time and the open communication surrounding the multiple system options that Graco could make available to tailor the lube system to the OEM’s needs was especially valued. They were also highly satisfied with the lubrication schematic which aided in the installation process on their production line. The customer included the schematic drawing as an appendix in their machine manuals to provide easy troubleshooting assistance for end users.

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Graco since 1926

Founded in 1926, Graco is a world leader in fluid handling systems and components. Graco products move, measure, control, dispense and apply a wide range of fluids and viscous materials used in vehicle lubrication, commercial and industrial settings.