What Are Industrial Lubricants & How Are They Used?

In this article, we explore an overview of everything manufacturers need to know about industrial lubricants, including best practices for using them, our recommended choices and much more!

Table of Contents

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What are Industrial Lubricants?

Industrial lubricants are oily or greasy substances that are applied to moving machine parts, such as gears or bearings, to reduce friction and wear. Lubricants act as a boundary layer between two surfaces, enabling smooth and efficient movement.

The global lubricants market is estimated to reach a worth of £120 billion by 2027. This growth is accounted for by the increasing popularity of long-lasting and extreme-temperature lubricants in the industrial and automotive sectors. As both industries continuously advance to reach new limits, performance lubricant technologies are opening doors for premium operational efficiency and long-lasting products.

Benefits of Industrial Lubrication

Industrial lubrication can lead to significant benefits for manufacturers, including:

  • Reduced downtime
  • Increased machine efficiency, and therefore sustainability
  • Reduced friction and wear
  • Extended equipment life
  • Safer equipment and working conditions
  • Reduced maintenance costs
  • Corrosion and oxidation protection
  • Heat dissipation
  • Keeping the moving parts clean by transporting contaminants away

Where are Industrial Lubricants Used?

Industrial lubricants can be used in any industry and on any application that uses mechanical machinery composed of moving parts. This includes the:

Main Types of Industrial Lubricants

The main types of industrial lubricants range from:

  • Gear oil – used in the transportation industry.
  • Bearing oil – used across various industries.
  • Motor oil – ideal for cleaning moving parts within motors.
  • Heat-proof greases – protective against corrosion and oxidation.
  • Chain and cable oil – for improving chains and cable performance, e.g. in agricultural equipment.
  • Compressor oils – for protecting compressors.
  • Hydraulic oils – for brakes, pumps, excavators and other hydraulic systems.

Manual vs Automatic Lubrication

Lubricants can be applied in two ways, manually or automatically.

Manual lubrication requires a technician with a grease gun to manually apply the lubricant to the machinery. Although some people prefer this technique, manual lubrication often leads to inconsistent lubrication and increased machine downtimes.

Automatic lubrication utilises automated lubricating machines to apply the exact amount of lubricant required to the parts requiring it. It’s advantageous to manual lubrication as it’s more consistent, efficient, environmentally friendly and safe; leading to reduced maintenance costs and downtimes.

Factors for Choosing an Industrial Lubricant

Before choosing an industrial lubricant, it’s important to consider the environment and application where the lubricant is to be used. Specifically, factors to consider before choosing an industrial lubricant include:

  • Water contact
  • Axis operating speed (fixed or variable)
  • Pressure
  • Load
  • Temperature
  • Industry standards
  • Type of friction (rolling or sliding)

For example, when lubricating bearings that function at low speeds and high pressures, a lubricant of a higher base oil viscosity and load-carrying capability would be chosen. When lubricating a bearing in high exposure with water, a lubricant of low-water washout and high-corrosion resistance would be chosen.

Common Mistakes in Choosing Lubricants

It’s easy to make mistakes when trying to choose lubricants for your application, which is why many people choose to have a technical specialist on hand to provide support for all lubrication queries and applications. Common mistakes when choosing an industrial lubricant include:

  • Missing important information regarding industrial specifications and standards. Always double-check the industrial requirements of the application with the technical data sheet of the lubricant, or get in contact with us and we’ll give you our expert advice.
  • Choosing unqualified or unreliable lubricant suppliers
  • Choosing lubricants based on price and not suitability. – Quality lubricants pay off in the long run by reducing downtime and improving component and machinery performance.
  • Re-using the same lubricant for different applications. Every application is different; one lubricant that works for one application may not work for another.

Best Lubrication Practices

It’s important to adopt good lubrication practices to get the most out of industrial lubricants. For example, it’s possible to over-grease or under-grease applications, or re-greasing too frequently or not enough. These mistakes can lead to component failure and energy losses. Here we outline some of the best lubrication practices:

  • Determining the exact amount of lubricant required and applying precisely that. We explore this further in our article on cleaning and greasing bearings.
  • Determining the required frequency of re-lubrication for every application.
  • Implementing a lubrication plan within your maintenance procedures that outlines the lubrication procedures for every piece of equipment in your plant.
  • Training your staff members to carry out lubrication procedures flawlessly.
  • Reviewing and maintaining records of storage and handling conditions.
  • Recording and tracking Mean Time Between Failure (MTBR) and Mean Time Between Maintenance (MTBM).

Most Used Lubricants in Different Industries

Krytox™ Performance Lubricants

Our performance lubrication brand Krytox offer fluorinated synthetic oils and thickened PTFE greases for different industries. Krytox lubricants have been used in automotive, textiles, medical applications to provide life-long lubrication resistant to high-temperatures; making them a reliable option in demanding environments.

Molykote® Smart Lubrication™

Molykote Smart Lubrication offers lubricating pastes, anti-friction coatings and greases for different industries. Take a look at our case studies to see how Molykote lubricants are continuously used to avoid microwelding of pipes and seal industrial furnaces.

Kajo Biodegradable Lubricants

Biodegradable lubricants brand KAJO offer lubricants and greases tailored to the agricultural, railway and marine industries. KAJO’s biodegradable lubricants, certified by the EU Ecolabel and Blue Angel environmental labels, are sustainable solutions to your lubrication needs. Take a look and see how KAJO lubricants have been used in smart agriculture, tractor restoration and eliminating repair needs.

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