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Automatic Lubrication System Extends Life of Gears and Machines

Published on December 13, 2010 at 7:02 PM

SKF, the world's leading knowledge engineering company, has devised an automatic lubrication system for open gears and support rollers aimed at extending the mechanical lifetime of these large and often complex systems.

Developed to deliver lubricant efficiently and directly into gear teeth, rollers, pinions and other critical moving parts, this latest system increases the reliability and performance of machines used in a wide range of applications, including ball and grinding mills and rotary kilns in sectors such as mining, steelmaking, cement and fertilizer production.

This innovative modular system uses an integrated pneumatic pump and lubricant reservoir, which supplies specially designed distribution nozzles located above each lubrication point.

The spray lubrication system is fully automated, controlled and monitored using a dedicated control unit to enable continuous or cyclic functionality, making it ideal for open gears using both running-in lubrication and regular service lubrication. In addition, the control system, combined with the spray nozzle design, ensures that exactly the right amount of lubricant is applied, precisely where it is required and in the correct qualities. This reduces lubricant consumption and waste, allowing costs to minimised still further.

Just as importantly, this lubrication process creates a homogeneous film to avoid any direct metal to metal contact when the gear wheels and pinions mesh. This reduces the friction points and protects the mechanical components against premature wear and failure. The lubricant is also used to equalise the load bearing areas of the teeth, thus creating an even load distribution, with lower drive forces and reducing energy consumption.

It is no secret that proper lubrication is essential to the good functioning of large open gear drives. However, many conventional lubricating systems can be crude, relying on manual operations and on less than efficient delivery processes, often irregularly monitored. Yet according to a survey by FUCHS, 50% of all open gear damage is caused by inadequate lubrication, generating failures that can account for heavy financial losses and long downtimes.

SKF's new Open Gear Spray System is designed to prevent such costly mistakes, offering modularity, efficiency and simplicity aimed at cutting downtime, as well as reducing use of lubricants. The system is flexible enough to be configured according to process manufacturing requirements and even environmental conditions, with accurate safety devices designed to monitor dispersal and lubricant levels.

One such system, applied to a cement mill in the Dominican Republic, slashed downtime and increased process reliability, while also cutting the use of lubricants by almost 70%, which alone equated to over 10,000 USD a year. A company representative stated, "The arms of the transmission system had seven failures in the two months prior to the installation of the new SKF system and, since it was installed, there have been absolutely no failures."

With less downtime, less hazards, better machine life, lower maintenance and greater environmental benefits, the SKF Open Gear System is an essential component of all efficient manufacturing processes involving large gear drives.

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