Categories: Machinery Maintenance,Other Topics


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By on May 18, 2016


Lubrication is sometimes incorrectly thought of as a job for unskilled workers, apprentices, or operators.  When I hear a maintenance person say, “I’m just an oiler”, I cringe a bit.

lube guy

Proper lubrication methods, formulations, quantities, and procedures are essential to machine reliability. A machine can no more do without lubrication than it can do without power.

When lubrication is diagnosed as a vibration problem, it often has already caused a secondary problem, such as wear, bearing or shaft damage, seal damage, or overheating.

It is very common to assume that a vibration diagnosis of “lubrication” must be followed by lubricating the component is question.  While this is a common response, and often a good diagnostic procedure, many times it just temporarily “masks” the real problem.  Modern lubricants can provide long term quality lubrication.  If re-lubrication is happening frequently, there must be a reason for it.

While under-lubrication is common in many facilities, over-lubrication can be just as problematic.  It can cause bearing overheating, bearing seal/shield failure, ingress of contaminants into the bearing, motor overheating, and product contamination/quality issues.

electric motor lube 2

Plus, it can be a waste of time and lubricants.  A good maintenance program should research proper lubricant types, levels and intervals, and implement them.

Pump Lube

And the lubricant system must be CLEAN.  That includes clean oils/greases. Clean fittings, clean storage and delivery devices.  Wipe fittings off before and after greasing.  Don’t put clean oil into a dirty bucket.  Be mindful of cleanliness, condensation, and proper lubricant storage.


  • Lubricate, and recheck. The recheck should not be done immediately after lubricating, but after some period of time to see if lubrication solved, or temporarily masked the problem.
  • Sample the lubricant for proper formulation, cleanliness, wear metals, moisture, etc. In addition, it is good practice to filter lubricants, such as bulk oils, before use.
  • Check seals. Seals keep lubricant in, and contamination out.
  • Perform testing to determine of the lubricant being used is correct for the application.
  • Confirm proper lubrication levels and amounts. Over-lubricating a bearing can be as detrimental as under-lubricating.


  • Contamination
  • Seal or shield failure/damage
  • Bad bearings or gears
  • Rubs

If you are interested in looking at tools and equipment that can help you achieve proper lubrication, browse our online store here.

About the Author

Stan Riddle joined VibrAlign in 2008. He has over 35 years experience in aligning industrial machinery. Stan received his AAS Degree in Machinist Technology from Surry Community College in Dobson, NC, and also holds a diploma in Industrial Systems Technology from Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem, NC, where he was also an instructor in the program.

Stan began his maintenance career working as a machinist and millwright for companies such as Weyerhaeuser, R.J. Reynolds, and Tyco Electronics. He also has over 25 years experience in Predictive Technologies, such as vibration analysis, thermography, oil analysis, and ultrasonic inspection. He is a certified Level III Vibration Analyst with the Vibration Institute, and is a Past Chairman and Board Member of the Piedmont Chapter.

Stan and his wife live in Yadkinville, NC.

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