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Effective lubrication and maintenance is key to long-term efficiency

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African Review of Business and Technology - August 2015
 
A lack of maintenance on electric motors in African industry has resulted in excessive failures, which ultimately lead to unnecessary downtime costs and production stoppages. According to a wear control specialist at Filter Focus, the majority of smaller scale electric motors operating locally are never greased or lubricated. He said, "In my experience, most maintenance engineers are not even aware that there are bearings on electric motors. As a result, no lubrication is done, and costly and easily avoidable failure occurs."
 
He added that an electric motor is typically lubricated once at the manufacturing facility. "Generally it is a medium to low quality lubricant that is applied once only, and this is simply not sufficient for the operational lifespan of the motor. Due to the fact that these motors are often found in confined and hard-to-reach places that are located at-height or under moving conveyor belts, they are unwittingly neglected by site supervisors too;' he said. Lubrication softens the harsh metal-to-metal contact between gears. During this contact, air bubbles are formed when cheap, low-quality lubricants are applied. Experts observed that this is one of the countless forms of destructive contamination. The specialist said, "There is often the belief that using cheaper lubrications will save the operation money, however, the expenses associated with the long-term maintenance and wear problems will prove to be exceptionally costly and disruptive."
 
Due to the harsh operating conditions in Africa, motors and gearboxes become particularly susceptible to rust, corrosion or deterioration. The specialist said, "These threats arise from the climate, dirty operational environments, as well as low level artisans and cleaners that spray the equipment with water during cleaning, inadvertently damaging the equipment, due to a lack of training and knowledge."

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