How to minimize unplanned conveyor downtime using automatic lubrication

GREASOMATIC conveyor advantages
Remotely mounted Greasomatics lubricate the bearings of a sand tripper conveyor.

Conveyors, used in aggregate, mining, farm and other material handling applications, have it rough. They’re exposed to a variety of environmental challenges, including dust, dirt and the rugged, abrasive materials they often transport.

In most cases, conveyors are the connective tissue in a production ecosystem, transferring materials from one process to the next, or from processing to storage. When a conveyor goes down, it tends to bring the processes surrounding it to a screeching halt. Downtime is often measured in thousands of dollars per hour. Because of that, conveyor operators are always on the lookout for ways to extend equipment life and prevent unplanned downtime.

The problem

In these challenging environments, reliable lubrication of bearings is a must. But they’re often located in elevated, hard-to-reach locations, which creates potential safety hazards. Many of them can only be accessed using an aerial lift.

Prior to lubricating its bearings, the conveyor must be shut down and strict lockout/tag-out procedures must be followed to ensure employee safety. Guarding that protects workers from the moving parts of the conveyor must also be removed to access the lubrication points, a process that is often quite time-consuming.

Because lubrication can cause a major negative impact on productivity, it’s sometimes ignored or overlooked. Maintenance personnel may not clean off grease fittings prior to manually lubricating bearings, driving abrasive contaminants into them and drastically shortening their service life. A lack of available manpower can also lead to inconsistent lubrication of conveyor bearings.

Greasomatics remotely lubricate inaccessible bearings on a quarry conveyor.

But as time-consuming as proper lubrication is, downtime caused by bearing failure can be much worse.

Unplanned downtime may cost some material-handling operations up to $20,000 per hour in lost productivity, according to one conveyor manufacturer.

The solution

An ideal solution is to automatically lubricate the conveyor bearings at precise intervals while the equipment is running. This not only helps to protect bearings from dirt, moisture and contaminants but also represents a best-case scenario for minimizing wear. That, in turn, helps to prevent expensive bearing failures and extends their service life.

Automatic lubrication also frees up maintenance personnel’s time to focus on other, higher-value tasks, improving labor productivity.

In addition, remote placement of lubricators often eliminates the need to lockout/tag out the conveyor and to remove the guarding to access its bearings. This benefit alone saves maintenance crews many hours of time, while also keeping them out of harm’s way.

Greasomatics with FM grade grease lubricate bottling conveyors.
Greasomatics with FM grade grease lubricate bottling conveyors.

A growing number of customers in the aggregate, mining, farming and material handling industries have discovered that GREASOMATIC® lubricators solve these problems simply and cost-effectively. This rugged, self-contained, programmable lubricator delivers a predictable amount of lubricant over a predefined period of time.

The GREASOMATIC® lubricator is powered by a simple chemical reaction. Upon activation, a combination of the patented adjustable galvanic element and electrolyte creates a steady release of internal gas. This powers a piston, which discharges the grease or oil of your choice. A translucent window in the body enables maintenance personnel to easily monitor the lubricant level and eliminates potential waste.

The GREASOMATIC® also has a unique blocked-line indicator. This integrated pressure release vent provides visual evidence of blocked lubricant flow to the bearing.

With no batteries, electronics or wiring necessary, the GREASOMATIC® lubricator can be easily programmed with the turn of a dial. It delivers 120cc of lubricant in a controlled, continuous flow over a pre-selected period. It offers seven settings, which enable you to program it for operation from one to 12 months, depending upon your need and the conveyor’s operating temperature.

GREASOMATIC® lubricators can be mounted up to six feet from the lubrication point using flexible nylon tubing. This enables conveyor maintenance personnel to place them in optimal locations for easy and safe access.

These single-use lubricators are affordable and reliable and help conveyor operators solve one of their toughest challenges: Maximizing uptime and production in harsh environments.