The Importance of Mechanical Skills in the Data Center: Lubrication

Another important skill a data center maintenance worker needs is an understanding of the fundamentals of lubrication.

Although lubrication may seem simple, there is a good deal of skill behind knowing proper lubrication methods, quantities, and the difference between over and under lubrication.

And because under or over lubrication can cause serious problems such as bearing overheating, seal failure, introduction of contaminants into the bearing, motor overheating, and more, it’s essential to know the fundamentals of lubrication.

Some important things to keep in mind when implementing a lubrication plan:

  • After a machine or bearing is lubricated, give it some time and then recheck it to see if the problem was solved.
  • Pay attention to what type of lubricant you are using.
  • Make sure the lubricant is contaminant-free and preferably is filtered before use.
  • Always confirm that lubrication levels are correct and that you aren’t under or over lubricating.

Also, it’s important to remember that sometimes you may think a problem is due to lubrication when it is actually due to an outside factor. This is why it is important to check for problems such as contamination, seal or shield failure, or bad bearings. Once you have eliminated these things, you can adjust your lubrication plan if needed.

Proper lubrication techniques can get lost in the busyness of the daily process of keeping the data center functioning. That is why we recommend utilizing any downtown you have to solidify (pun intended) your lubrication routine.

We are used to thinking of downtime as bad, and of course it does slow down productivity, but it can increase productivity in the long run if you know how to make the most of it, especially when it comes to lubrication.

Consider these things during the next downtime at your facility:

  1. Although it may not sound glamorous, during your facility’s next scheduled downtime, take the opportunity to clean machine surfaces and lubrication system reservoirs, replace damaged lubrication lines and fittings, and ensure dirt, dust, and grime are not contaminating your lubricant. You’d be surprised what a little focused spring cleaning can do.
  2. Next, change the oil and filter. Just like your car needs a regular oil change in order to run at optimum efficiency, so do the machines and equipment in your data center.
  3. If you really want to go all out, you could set yourself up for success by taking an inventory of all your facility’s lubrication supplies and then organize them so that they are easy to find and access when you need them. This will increase the chances that your facility will consistently put a lubrication routine into practice.

Once you have done steps one through three, you may realize that the way you are currently carrying out a lubrication plan (or perhaps lack thereof) may need to be tweaked or scrapped altogether. Again, downtime is the optimal time to put your energy into solving this problem. Research the best lubrication methods and products and upgrade as needed. We highly recommend our Smart Machine Checker (SMC) to ensure proper lubrication of bearings. You can read more about how the SMC serves as a lubrication tool here.

What’s next…

Our next blog in this data center maintenance series will go over shaft alignment–we hope you’ll keep reading!

by Acoem contributor | June 13, 2022
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