For industrial systems that have long or continuous duty cycles, there’s no better way of ensuring machine uptime than automatically lubricating key components like rack and pinions, gearboxes, ball screws and bearings. Unfortunately, many conventional central lubrication systems are big, difficult to install and can be hard to operate. Additionally, many of the lubrication choices are not ideal for a component but a compromise for all components.
Fortunately, newer and more compact systems are more straightforward in their design and operation, and they can simplify component lubrication. Let’s explore some of the problems associated with typical automatic lubrication systems, along with some of the innovative characteristics to look for in a truly effective system.
Common Automatic Lubrication System Challenges and Solutions
Conventional relubrication systems consist of a high-pressure pump, filters and metal tubing to the components requiring lubrication. The tubing diameter must be sufficiently large and the tube material sufficiently strong to allow for enough pressure to deliver the lubricant over long distances. Here is a list of some common automatic lubrication system challenges along with innovative ways they can be resolved:
- Central lubrication. In a conventional system, a central lubricator services a single piece of equipment. Not only is the lubricator typically very large, it also requires expensive, high-pressure lubrication lines. By comparison, a localized lubrication system such as the Andantex FlexxPump typically offers 10 outlets for multi-point lubrication — with as many as 40 lubrication points — at specific locations on the machine.
- Installation/retrofitting. The high-pressure lubrication lines of a conventional central lube system are a considerable capital expense and require extensive hand-fitting. FlexxPump is a localized lubrication system that uses nylon tubing with push-to-connect fittings to make installation fast and simple. In addition, FlexxPump requires just 24V DC to power the pump and communicate with a programmable logic controller (PLC). Together with the nylon tubing and a variety of applicators, retrofitting a lubrication system is easy.
- Applicators for open gearing and specialized lubrication points. Traditionally, lubrication of open gearing is accomplished with felt pinions. The use of felt material for lubrication pinions limits the viscosity of the lubricants. Andantex open cell polyurethane foam pinions and applicators can use higher viscosity lubricants and greases up to NLGI 3 class. The polyurethane foam is 76 percent open volume, allowing it to absorb and hold large amounts of lubricants. The sponge-like foam applicators ensure proper lubricant film thickness and can absorb excess lubricant. Furthermore, the open cell structure allows for higher viscosity lubricants that are better suited for open gearing and other applications.
- Contamination. Felt pinions can become congested with debris and will stop lubricating the gear teeth. Polyurethane foam applicators are not affected by debris and deliver better, more constant lubrication over time.
Additional Features and Benefits
Here are some additional features and benefits that make FlexxPump an attractive choice for automatic lubrication in dynamic, continuous-operation applications:
- Achieves 70 bar (1,000 psi) for pumping grease up to 10 meters.
- Onboard programming or PLC controlled; users control lubrication volume time intervals using the onboard electronics or by signals from the machine’s PLC.
- Convenient cartridges for fast and easy refilling of the pump.
- Multiple options for applicators, fitting progressive distributors and progressive distributors with monitoring.
Automatic Lubrication Without Complication
Automatic lubrication systems don’t have to be elaborate and bulky. It is now possible to automatically lube parts faster and with greater efficiency with a localized approach. Andantex FlexxPump combines all the essential benefits of an automatic lubrication system plus localized, multipoint convenience, a superior applicator, lightweight and flexible tubes, easily manageable user controls and simple connections. Taken together, you’ll save time and money while ensuring machine uptime and safety without complication.
For more information about the FlexxPump automatic lubrication system, visit our product page.