An Automated Lubrication System (ALS) is very important to any preventative maintenance (PM) program for heavy equipment, machines or trucks. However, there is still a human component in designing a preventative maintenance program, but an ALS will greatly reduce the time taken on lubrication checks and much of the hands-on work.
It’s still important to have a Preventive Maintenance (PM) Schedule when you have an ALS
“maintenance that can be performed economically to prevent equipment breakdowns before they occur, shifting the greater portion of maintenance work to a planned basis”
The key questions to ask are what kind, how much, and how often? Knowing the correct answer to these questions is the best starting point for your lubrication preventive maintenance program.
Here are some basic steps which can be followed to achieve PM program success:
- The truck’s/machine’s manual is an important source of information for building your preventive maintenance schedules. The lubrication section of any machinery manual should indicate the locations on each machine that should be lubricated, what type of lubricant to use at each location, the amount of lubricant to be applied and how often to apply the lubricants.
- Verify that the lubricants being used meet the truck’s/machine’s recommendations for fluid type and viscosity. Never deviate from these recommendations.
- Keep maintenance records on each automated lubrication system as an aid in determining good preventive maintenance techniques. Records should be audited occasionally to ensure accuracy and thoroughness. Detailed maintenance records give you documented proof that your truck/machine has been maintained according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.
Check for signs of wear
Vibration, shock, high temperatures, friction and age all contribute to the breakdown of parts in heavy machinery and trucks.
- Vibration resulting from gears and belts that are out of sync.
- Shock that results from any accidents or from poor operator technique when handling.
- High temperatures arising from extended use, friction, poor lubrication and worn parts, among numerous other occurrences.
- Age affects many key components. Over time, belts will warp, seals will dry and crack, bolts will loosen and stretch out of shape. Age is a factor to monitor in equipment.
Should you discover wear and tear on any moving parts within your heavy equipment or vehicles, be sure to quickly perform the necessary replacement of any worn parts.
Observing any lubricating system at the actual activity/task panel location is a necessity, but does not assure that the lubricant is being delivered to the lubrication point. It means only that the heart of the system is in good operating condition.
The next step is to check the distribution system. Ruptured, plugged or kinked piping and tubing can make some portions of the system inoperative while other portions are operating efficiently. If this is the case, it can lead the control systems and warning devices to display satisfactory performance through the system when in actuality, some machinery points are not being lubricated.
The best way to assure that all lube points are being properly serviced is to visually check each header and any lines from the metering device to the lube point. This is, in many cases, time-consuming and consequently is not performed. If you skip this step in your PM check, a malfunction in the header and distribution lines is discovered only when the machinery doesn’t “work”.
In conclusion, an ALS becomes unhelpful if each metering device isn’t “visually” checked to assure proper operation. It is often an overlooked task in the PM check but is also super important. This activity or ‘visual check’ can be done intermittently or sparingly.