According to ALS Global (US), lubricant makes up just 3% of all agricultural machinery maintenance costs, and the negative impact of using cheap grease is rarely noticed right away.
It’s not just the costs of the actual price of grease/lubricant that should be looked at, but rather holistically considering the productivity of ALS (automatic lubrication systems) in the field and the duration or life of components that are properly greased causing machines to be in top condition with little downtime.
That’s the true cost to be thought of when considering getting an ALS for your agricultural application. In this post, we talk about the true cost of manual lubrication and how ALS saves you not only grease, time and manpower but improves productivity and the life of important components in your machines.
Creating an automated Preventative Maintenance Schedule
Good machinery managers – with the help of an ALS – can ensure each machine is lubricated efficiently and on time, and also following each machine’s product manual.
According to Industr.com, improper bearing lubrication or re-lubrication accounts for up to 40 to 50% of machine failures. Unplanned downtime can cause a ripple effect that impacts an agricultural production schedule.
Ideally, a strict PM schedule should be followed – both manually and with the help of an ALS. But let’s focus more on the labour intensive component of manual lubrication.
With manual lubrication:
- Incorrect quantity or quality of lubricant can be used. You can under lubricate and even OVER lubricate a bearing in a machine.
- You must include the costs of having a worker do a manual PM, which can take hours to do.
- Manual labour also leaves room for human error or contamination.
- Maintenance personnel are sometimes found to be not properly trained with each machine.
- And, a major downside of manual lubrication, lubrication points aren’t always easily accessible – this can be both dangerous and indicate some areas/bearings that may not have been lubricated at all.
Hidden Additional Costs
In the cases where manual lubrication malpractices occur, managers may have to make unnecessary purchases, such as gravity-fed oil reservoirs and lines; seals, wipers and felt wicks that help lubricants to stop spreading; plus spend additional money on lubricant disposal as it’s not easily dealt with in comparison to left-over lubricant found in an ALS (where ALS ensure the proper quantity of grease is used).