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The book excerpt on which this article is based (see editor’s note below and link at end of this page ) focuses on a number of topics, including: 1) optimally applying lubricant to rolling element bearings; 2) explaining oil mist technology, application, and cost-effectiveness; and 3) bringing full equipment standby (standstill) protection and storage preservation strategies to the attention of those wishing to add value to their enterprise.

Since equipment protection is closely related to lube application, it was important for us to explain all of the above. W’e’re recapping elements of those discussions here.

Editor’s Note:
This article is based on a chapter in the author’s book
“Optimized Equipment Lubrication, 2nd Edition, 2021;”
De Gruyter, Berlin/Boston, (ISBN 978-3-11-074934-2).

Over the course of several recent book-chapter excerpts and many other full-blown articles for The RAM Review, we’ve given field-proven examples establishing that oil mist, in the more than six decades since 1960, has served best-in-class (BiC) users as an exceedingly cost-effective, safe, and totally dependable means of equipment storage protection. Such users include hundreds of oil refineries and other plants in the United States and overseas. Together, they have installed an estimated 3,400 oil mist units, each serving as many as 70 machines. As of 2021, the total number of pumps so lubricated stood at 160,000. An estimated 52,000–54,000 electric motors are lubricated with oil mist.

Oil mist is also an unusually cost-effective, safe, and totally dependable means of protecting standby equipment installed in modern industry. The protection of standby equipment differs little from storage preservation and vice versa. Other means of storage preservation exist but tend to be maintenance intensive. Oil mist will reach or inundate all corners and edges of the interior of many machines. Unlike conventionally applied viscous protective coatings that can be difficult to remove prior to re-commissioning a machine, no great efforts are needed to get from oil mist protection to full operation.

The scarcity of skilled maintenance personnel makes upgrading to a fully automated and reliable means of lubricant application a priority. Fully automated lubrication is one of the primary reasons for high reliability and profitability in companies that consistently enjoy best-in-class status. Bulk oil often arrives at plants with water and solid particle contaminants. However, solids drop out in the creation of oil mist, making oil mist generation the ultimate filter.

Considering opportunities to upgrade lubrication-related matters prompted us to cover both old and new approaches. It is possible that readers encounter seemingly new applications as they ponder their relevance. Please keep in mind that all of our material fully reflects the reliability-focused thinking of best-in-class performers in 2021 and, conceivably, the next few decades.

We hope that the collective, experience-based narrative given in the book from which this excerpt comes will motivate future lubricant users and purchasers. May they seek out, or perhaps even lead, the many highly desirable moves toward the best available technologies. The women and men determined to absorb and consistently apply only best available knowledge will be the ultimate winners.

That said, are the Reliability Professionals at your facility (or in your operating units) willing to do what others did close to half a century ago, which is understand the immense value of intelligently applying best-available technology and taking a stand for it? If the answer is “yes,” we commend you. If it is “no,” you might ask a few questions of your own, and include the most simple and important one: What are you and the organization planning to do about it? For example: Are you putting desiccant breathers on your bearing housings knowing full well that no such breathers would be needed if you lubricated with pure oil mist? Are you putting water and sludge-monitoring visual observation-cum-bleed valve assemblies at the bottom of your bearing housings or are you an advocate for oil mist, which means that neither water nor sludge would ever enter your bearing housings, to begin with?

As we have stressed in The RAM Review and elsewhere over the years (many times over the years), when manufacturers of plant equipment have no interest in upgrading the reliability of their products, it will be up to the end-user or owner-purchaser to demand better performance. Surely, solid, well-detailed end-user or owner specifications that include purchasing and upgrade measures adopted by best-practices facilities would do wonders here. But unless a corporation or facility has such specifications, it could find itself dealing with narrow-focus and repair-intensive responses from vendors/suppliers.

Since the final choice of a product offering is clearly up to the buyer, end-users or owner-purchasers must educate themselves. Unless they insist on quality, they will often receive maintenance or repair-intensive products. Relying entirely on engineering/procurement/construction contractors and OEMs is simply not enough. In the final analysis, the end users or owner-purchasers get what they deserve: either more downtime risk and bloated budgets, or higher equipment reliability and the profits that come with safely extended uptime.

So, what would you and others at your site choose? For greater safety, asset reliability, and profits, consider putting the book from which this article excerpt was taken into the hands of your fellow employees. And, if you’re a manager who periodically conducts employee-performance reviews, this same book will help you ask questions and judge the validity of the answers that flow in your direction.TRR

Editor’s Note: Click Here To Download A Full List Of Heinz Bloch’s 24 Books

Heinz Bloch’s long professional career included assignments as Exxon Chemical’s Regional Machinery Specialist for the United States. A recognized subject-matter-expert on plant equipment and failure avoidance, he is the author of numerous books and articles, and continues to present at technical conferences around the world. Bloch holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering and is an ASME Life Fellow. These days, he’s based near Houston, TX. 

Tags: reliability, availability, maintenance, RAM, pumps, bearings, bearing housings, lubrication, lubricants, oil mist