Reducing the cost of poor lubrication

Manufacturers’ Monthly speaks with the John Sample Group and SKF Australia about educating customers on good industrial lubrication practices through their business partnership.


According to industry studies and data, lubrication contributes approximately one to three per cent of the overall cost of a manufacturer’s maintenance budget.

However, the impact that poor lubrication can have on equipment in terms of premature failures can amount to 50 per cent at its highest and become very costly, causing unnecessary downtime for manufacturers.

The John Sample Group, through its JSG Industrial Systems subsidiary (JSG) uses its vast application engineering resource base, as well as OEM factory specifications, to determine the correct lubrication system needs for customer applications.

The company provides access to a complete service for the supply of lubrication systems covering system scoping, design, installation and commissioning through a national installation network with comprehensive after sales support.

JSG has been a distributor for SKF’s Lincoln lubrication systems since 1961, and is SKF’s largest lubrication system partner globally. 

JSG takes to market, the complete range of SKF lubrication solutions and combines this with inhouse engineering expertise and extensive application experience to deliver solutions tailored specifically to address customers’ needs,” JSG Industrial Systems national sales manager, Italo Marcantonio, said.

JSG became strongly linked with SKF when SKF acquired the Lincoln Group in 2010. JSG has been involved in the delivery of high-quality lubrication systems to various markets for more than 50 years.

Since the acquisition, SKF has maintained a strong relationship with JSG – forming a business partnership that has flourished and grown over the past ten years.

SKF south-east Asia manager, David Antonelli, said JSG’s engineering expertise and design capabilities, installation and servicing – as well as its stockholding and presence in the Australian and South East Asian regional markets – are factors that make the company valuable as a distributor.

“The only way to approach a lubrication problem is to understand the application, know the options available to address the problem, and then have the capability and expertise to design and engineer a system solution,” he said.

“JSG Industrial Systems has vast experience and knowledge in all facets of industry, and when they’re onsite with a customer can identify the right lubrication practices for that customer.”

One of the key causes of machine failure occurs when incorrect quantities and type of lubricant make its way into a machine, Antonelli said.

He believes not enough attention is paid to good lubrication practices.

“Correct quantities of lubricants are essential for optimum bearing performance. If you over lubricate a bearing, it can cause increased heat due to the bearing having to work harder to push through the grease,” he said. “Over lubricating can also cause seals to fail, thereby, starting to introduce contamination. Conversely, under lubrication can cause increased heat due to metal to metal contact.”

Antonelli said achieving optimum lubrication is all about preventing metal to metal surface contact. The two main ways to improve lubrication are associated with storage and handling, and the correct application of the lubricant.

Educating the customer

SKF strives to educate its customers about the importance of good lubrication. The company has conducted studies for as long as they have manufactured bearings to investigate the causes of premature bearing failure.

“Our studies and other independent studies indicate that up to 50 per cent of premature bearing failures are a result of poor lubrication,” Antonelli said. “So, what is poor lubrication? Basically, it’s contamination of the lubricant, it’s over and under lubrication, it could be incorrect storage of lubricants, incorrect handling of lubricants and any cause of cross contamination.”

SKF, in conjunction with its distributors, provides knowledge in relation to handling and storage of lubricants.

“One of the things I’ve noticed since working in this industry is that lubrication is extremely important for the operation of machinery and rotating equipment,” Antonelli said.

“Delivery can come simply in the form of a grease gun, or a single point lubricator, or it could be a fully automatic lubrication system, depending on what the application is and what the customer’s expectations are. “In terms of storage and handling, it’s trying to eliminate the introduction of contaminants into the lubricant prior to being introduced into the rotating parts of a machine”.