Why grease is key to getting the most from your machinery

The correct lubrication is vital for the optimal functioning of heavy mining equipment. Viva Energy Grease Technical Specialist Mick Castle talks about how to ensure you’re getting the best out of your excavators.

When it comes to lubrication for heavy mining equipment, making sure that the grease being used is appropriate for the machinery is of primary importance. It’s also important to check that the grease is within the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) recommendations and guidelines for the lube system and settings, to avoid any impact on warranties.

Factory-installed automatic lubrication systems (ALS) are designed to dispense the right amount of lubricant to all points on the machine, when it is needed. For optimal performance, however, the systems need to be correctly set up and monitored regularly.

When setting up, every point on the system needs to be physically checked, and the amount of lubricant being dispensed to each point noted. That information should then be measured against the OEM specification and setting to ensure the correct amount of grease is being dispensed relative to the metering device setting. If there’s a discrepancy in output higher or lower than the specification, you may need to change out that injector. Certain injectors, such as Lincoln SLVs and SL-V XLs, can be configured with colour-coded spectrum sleeves; this makes it easy to maintain the correct injector output settings during future injector change outs.

Environmental factors will also affect how a system is set up and maintained. It might be that the OEM recommends a specific amount of grease to a point, but fine dust or really coarse or wet materials can wash the grease out of pins and bush joints. In that situation, it’s advisable to adjust the amount of grease being applied, to ensure that those points are being adequately lubricated.

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Maintenance saves money

It’s important to schedule routine checks for wear, and carry out preventative maintenance. Just a day of working under stress with insufficient grease can cause significant damage and put the machine out of use, resulting in unnecessary down time and extra financial outlay.

There should be a fresh, uniform bead of grease around each of the inspection points, including the bottom seal on the swing bearing, boom foot pins, boom-to-stick pins, stick-to-bucket and all other bushes and pins around the attachment.

If there are any dry points, the problem could be a broken grease line, an injector not functioning properly or even that the whole system was not set up correctly in the first place.

The performance of a machine can be greatly reduced if any of the injectors are under-lubing and there’s not enough product getting down to the pins. For instance, you might find you’re only getting 1500–2500 hours out of a set of bucket pins and bushes, when you would normally expect 12,000 hours or the life of your bucket.

On the other hand, if the injectors are worn out and ‘bypassing’, or dispensing extra grease to every point, you will quite likely find that far more grease is being used than is necessary, and it’s all ending up on the ground. It is possible under these circumstances that a 600-tonne machine that should be using around 1.5 kilograms of grease an hour might in fact be consuming up to four kilos in the same amount of time.

There should be no need to change components such as boom foots pins or swing bearings during the life of the equipment, so long as:

  • The right product is being used.
  • They are being lubricated correctly.
  • The lubrication system is functioning properly.

A quick, regular audit has the potential to save considerable wastage and cost, especially if you have multiple excavators working on site.

The role of lubrication experts

Viva Energy has a large technical division, with experts located all around Australia, from mining regions to major cities. Our LSEs (lubricant service experts) will inspect machines on site to ensure that the products are doing the job that they are supposed to do, that the lube systems are set up correctly, and that customers are getting the best performance they can expect to achieve from their machines.

With a long history of working with the mining industry, Viva Energy offers a full range of services around lubrication products and systems, including:

  • Product recommendation or rationalisations.
  • Plant assessments.
  • Surveys.
  • Condition monitoring.
  • Support and interpretation.
  • Oil analysis.
  • Oil cleanliness and filtration.
  • Centralised lube systems inspections and audits.
  • Root core analysis / failure investigations.

For technical support and advice on the set-up and maintenance of your lube systems, please call Viva Energy on 1300 134 205 or

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