For the food industry, the impact of inefficient forms of lubrication can lead to a range of issues ranging from excessive downtime to ongoing maintenance costs and food safety risks.
The lubrication process was also found to impact a range of other key performance indicators, including uptime, speed and quality, as well as health, safety and environmental compliance.
In total, up to 20% of a company’s maintenance budget can be affected by lubrication.
Eva Otel, SKF global marketing and sustainability – food and beverage, said they identified three key approaches to lubricating and relubricating manufacturing equipment.
“One of the real foundations of plant reliability in the food and beverage industry is lubrication management. What we are saying is that lubrication management can be impacted in three ways, ”said Otel.
This applies to all levels of pressure washing in hot and cold areas as well as in contaminating environments.
Changes in traditional bearing relubrication approaches can impact food safety compliance, cost reduction, asset availability and environmental impacts.
“Basically the way we started is that the seven most cherished words in business are ‘we’ve always done it this way,’ and it’s very ingrained in food and drink,” Otel said.
The disposal approach is to trust new technologies to improve reliability and safety despite the differences from the traditional approach to lubrication and relubrication.
“Anytime you pressure wash all of the water and especially the cleaning agent is designed to soak in, they have low surface tension that gets into the joints and that’s something we’ve learned from many tests we have done, ”Hotel said.
“What happens is these washes, the cleaning media gets inside the bearing, the industry knows that the water content can be inside the bearing and then what they do is to relubricate the bleed just to make sure all that water content has been removed from inside the bearing, but a lot of times it gets corroded and sticky with grease.
Otel said it was understandable for manufacturers to be cautious when it came to eliminating the washing and relubrication process entirely, so several field studies were conducted for the proof of concept.
Meanwhile, the industry standard IP69 safety rating, the intrusion protection code for very high levels of protection with regard to enclosures, is not sufficient to ensure the safety of the products of the supply line, said Otel.
“What we are trying to say is what the conditions are, bringing arguments, concrete test results and experience in the industry, in order to have proof that it works, in order to eliminate this relubrication “said Otel.
“What we’re saying is that the IP69 rating is really a guarantee? Is this belief correct? Said Otel.
“Thanks to the tests we carried out for the detergent droplets, they tested what goes on inside the bearings and the confusion is that this is not enough, the IP69 rating protects against water but not against detergents, detergents get into the seals and get into the grease.
“So you need a different sealing solution than most manufacturers traditionally use. It makes a lot of sense, the more lips you put in the seal the more protection you give, you don’t allow water to get inside the bearing but what more lips do is not effective enough.
Over time, the relubrication process has been found to break down the factors that make up an IP69 rating, which in turn can lead to grease extraction through washing, ending up on the ground or in sewage, and causing damage. dangerous risks for workers, the environment and public safety.
“One argument is to have an effective grease that is detergent resistant but also to think of a sealing solution that does not rely on more lips for the seal. What they detected is that those lips are destroyed by extreme pressure and that’s where the water comes in, ”Otel said.
But research has shown that there are improved ways to keep bearings lubricated in cases where old systems are still in use, such as minimization and optimization.
SKF offers a range of modern sealing options, from the inside to the outside, which have been shown to be effective in combating the risks of corrosion and grease extraction during the cleaning process. The gutter seal is one example.
“When you get the pressure washing, the gutter seal places the lip against the surface and water is invited in. The water droplets penetrate, but thanks to the low surface tension and gravity, they are guided outward. It’s much better protection to work with the cleaner instead of working against it, ”said Otel.
Another problem addressed by SKF was the use of mounted spacers to combat any lubrication problem.
“They mount spacers in the hope that it will give a good hygienic design and better cleanability. This is also something that we have proven to be not really true. If there are bacteria inside the bearings, they can spread. said Otel.
“It is important to have a complete enclosure for the bearings if you have a high risk of food contamination. It is important to have a seal from the rear. Otherwise there would be a gap between the shaft in most conventional solutions, so it is important not to allow food residue to move inside the conveyor.
“Additional sealing solutions can be applied, we have custom gaskets and they can be machined according to the customer’s needs, and they can be done in one or two days with the profiles the customer needs.”
If not sealed properly, the risk of oil leaks is increased, which, again, can lead to risks of slipping on the plant floor and potential impacts to the environment if the The oil is absorbed in the wastewater.
“There are many ways that sealing solutions can help you keep that lubricant inside and keep contaminants out, so you can have external seals,” Otel said.
“With the right sealing and lubrication technology and insert bearing sealing… you can improve reliability and reduce replacement. You can eliminate the need for relubrication, saving on maintenance and operating costs.
These are just a few examples of why SKF believes that lubrication processes around manufacturing can be made more efficient or eliminated altogether.
SKF used its discoveries to create new sealing capabilities to solve these and many other problems focused on lubricating and relubricating bearings in manufacturing machines.