One technology in automatic lubrication widespread in the market are single point lubricators. These are designated as “single-pointers”, as one device is designed to lubricate one (1) single bearing or mechanical component alone.
These devices are relatively small and handy, a bit larger than a can of soda, providing ease-of-use and installation. The grease reservoirs are typically built-in, from volumes of as little as 120 cc up to a maximum of 250 cc. Protected by a plastic casing, these lubricators utilize either (expanding) gas, or batteries, to power up the downward-push motion of a piston to dispense grease through an orifice, that is normally directly installed or screwed-down on a bearing. The backpressure generated by gas or batteries is only between 3-5 bars though, while lubrication intervals can be pre-programmed, before use, from durations of one (1) month, to as long as twelve (12) months.
These devices are certainly capable of providing distinct benefits in lubrication programs as compared to manual lubrication, as reviewed in our prior paper.
Its small reservoir size, however, relegates its use to smaller bearings, while the low back-pressures generated creates certain limitations,
- The lubricator cannot be installed in environments that are too hot, too humid, or in conditions with excessive vibrations, as the lubricator cannot be placed at a location distant from the lubricating port
- Single pointers will have a difficult time dispensing higher penetration greases (ex NLGI 3) as 3-5 bar may be insufficient to push out the lubricant consistently, if at all
In closing, the maintenance practitioner should consider the use of single-point lubricators as a viable option compared to manual lubrication, but make a good determination on which applications it is suitable for, given its advantages and limitations.