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Ask the Expert — Proper lubrication takes precedence in production quality

Too often, food processing equipment owners overlook the importance of lubrication. Even those who keep machine parts well-lubricated can harm their machinery and endanger product quality by not using the proper kind of lubricant, resulting in premature failure of the equipment, elevated maintenance costs and production downtime.

Choosing the proper lubricant and applying it correctly will extend the life of processing equipment and ensure production quality.

JBT FoodTech has been involved in the development of food-grade lubrications for more than 15 years and now offers more than 60 kinds of high-performance lubricant to suit the needs of different types of processing equipment. Jerry O’Connor, aftermarket technical manager for JBT FoodTech, discusses the dangers of improper lubrication and how to avoid lubrication-related problems.

Q: How does improper lubrication damage processing equipment and what are some warning signs of improper lubrication?

A: Excess friction may occur when components are inadequately or excessively lubricated. Under lubrication can result not only from an empty oil reservoir, but also from lubrication system failure or cleanup procedures that wash away lubricant. Excess friction leads to premature wear, limiting the service life of equipment.

Signs that an improper lubrication has been used on equipment include:

  • Excessive noise and vibration
  • An excessive amount of oil or not enough oil used, causing drag
  • Foaming in the gearbox
  • An incompatibility with seals
  • Gumming of components
  • Energy spikes caused by elevated amperage draw

Lubricants are available in multiple formats, from spray cans to 275-gallon plastic totes.

Lubricants are available in multiple formats, from spray cans to 275-gallon plastic totes.
Q: What is the best way to determine the right lubrication for individual processing equipment?

A: Some factors to consider when selecting a lubricant include the parts and components where lubrication is required and the operating temperature of the processing equipment.

For example, the JBT FoodTech family of lubrication products covers a wide range of formulas, including silicone, grease, synthetic oil, gear oil, compressor oil and hydraulic fluid.

Processing equipment typically operates at extreme temperatures, and it is very important that the selected lubricant is rated for the temperature of the application. If the operating temperature of the equipment is lower than the lubricant temperature rating, the lubricant will not flow freely. If the operating temperature is above the lubricant temperature rating, the lubricant will exceed its flash point and will deteriorate.

Always consult the equipment user manual or an JBT FoodTech skilled service consultant before lubricating.

 Q: Are there advantages to controlled lubricator systems?

A: Yes. Controlled lubricator systems automatically apply a precise distribution of lubrication to parts and components. When applying lubrication manually, the lack of control can result in inconsistent distribution, potentially causing product contamination and accelerated wear.

JBT FoodTech offers an 8-point lubrication system for its GYRoCOMPACT® freezers to quickly and evenly distribute lubrication oil onto the entire ball rail to double its lubrication points. The Low Tension Bull Chain Lubricator spray system is available for Northfield™ LST freezers. It applies a precise distribution of lubrication at the pin and roller area of the bull chain, reducing wear on the teeth of the cage drive ring and reducer sprocket.

Do you have a question about food processing technology that you would like an JBT FoodTech expert to address in the next issue of FoodTech Report?  Submit your question.

 ™Northfield is a trademark and ®GYRoCOMPACT is a registered trademark of JBT FoodTech. ©2008 JBT FoodTech. All rights reserved.

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