Centralized Lubricating Systems, known as CLS also, have found favor, especially in large industries as of late. It provides noteworthy advantages to manual lubrication of course, to wit,
- Eliminate the possibility of using the incorrect lubricant,
- Minimize the entry of contamination into the oil or grease,
- Optimize lubricant usage and minimize wastage,
- Allows re-lubrication for maintenance purposes without the need for stopping production, and,
- Reduce labor costs, as well as decrease the risks of manpower accidents in lubrication points that are highly inaccessible.
Ultimately, such systems are ideal for the primary purpose of lubricating properly, at the right frequency, intervals, and quantities, to prevent premature failures of mechanical components requiring lubrication.
CLS typically consists of a.) a reservoir or tank to hold the lubricant (it could be a 200-liter drum, too), b.) a pump to generate flow into the system, c.) a control valve to regulate to which lines the lubricant will flow to, d.) metering valves per lubrication point to control and monitor the lubricant quantity, and e.) an over-flow valve the returns any excess oil and grease to the reservoir.
While single point lubricators, taken up in the preceding paper, are an option, CLS is more appropriate for industrial settings wherein there are, 1.) larger bearings used running at lower speeds, 2.) multiple, consecutively aligned bearings to be lubricated, and 3.) major distances involved from the first bearing in sequence, up to the last bearing. Such industrial settings would include steel mills, sugar mills, as well as cement factories.
© Uwe Niggemeier
CLS poses a few disadvantages though.
In general, it creates a false sense of security to the maintenance practitioner who may neglect monitoring the CSL. As with any other machinery, the CLS and its components need to be maintained and inspected at regular intervals, to ensure that it is properly working.
In addition, it is key that any CLS set-up is designed correctly from the get-go. Barring that, the right lubricant at the right quantities and frequencies may not reach the lubricating points, making the whole exercise moot.
Lastly, there is a limitation in that only one (1) lubricant is used for the whole system. In most industrial settings, a small percentage of bearings or mechanical components looped into the CLS, may require a different or higher specification lubricant, owing to differences in speed, temperature, or load as compared to most of the bearings in the system. A CLS cannot address this requirement.
In our next blog, we shall speak about the 3rd alternative to automatic lubricating systems – direct lubricating systems.