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machine maintenance

The Importance of Greasing Your Machines

Grease is the word if you want to extend the life of your equipment.

Sometimes it's the simplest tasks that get overlooked, like greasing heavy equipment on a consistent schedule.

Don't confuse greasing with lubricating a machine with oil. Grease performs the same function as oil but it’s thicker and lasts longer, so it's the better choice for hard-to-reach areas inside machinery that would be more expensive to lubricate regularly.

A coating of thick grease can also serve as a layer of protection for the equipment, catching dust and other debris before it reaches crucial components.

Start with the equipment manual to find out what type of grease is best for the machine, where to grease and how often.

The general rule of thumb, though, is to choose the right grease for the conditions. For example, in a wet environment, the grease needs to protect the equipment from rust. During heavy operations like earthmoving or drilling, the extreme pressure on parts require additives that will protect the machine if the grease is "squeezed out."

Take the season into consideration, too. Consistently cold weather requires a grease with lighter viscosity than summer weather operations due to the grease's performance in different temperatures.

Machines should be greased at least as often as the manufacturer's instructions suggest, but experience will tell you a more complete story. Depending on the use and conditions, the machinery may need greasing every day or even several times a day.

Both over-greasing and under-greasing can cause big problems, so talk to someone with expertise in this area for guidance. If you apply too much grease, seals and motor windings could suffer damage. Fluid friction can also happen, leading to overheating and higher energy use. Apply too little grease and the resulting friction on bearings could lead to above-average wear and contamination.

To make the job of greasing easier and eliminate guesswork, use special lube tags to mark grease points, and be sure to choose the right grease gun with the right attachment to allow you to get to hard-to-reach spots. Meters can also be installed on grease guns to measure how much grease is used at each point for future reference.

Greasing isn’t exciting, but avoiding the metal-to-metal damage and wear and tear on a machine, as well as the chance of debris entering expensive parts, is well worth the hassle.

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