The lessons we acquire as we grow and as we learn often provide us with the knowledge we end up using in multiple aspects of our life. One of the most valuable lessons is that of Preparedness. Probably the most widely known conveyance of that is attributed to the Boy Scouts of America. It became their motto at its inception in 1910. BE PREPARED.
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And we are all familiar with the customary announcements and declarations that come during the seasonal changes in weather… “Wear Sunscreen!”, “Hydrate!”, “Take a Raincoat!”, “Check Your Car’s Anti-Freeze!”, “Dress in Layers!”, etc. All are forms of preparedness to enable us to avoid complications and hazards.
When it comes to keeping your equipment healthy that same type of preparedness is necessary to reduce the cold weather pitfalls that can deter you from achieving Optimal Lubrication on your equipment. There are multiple steps that companies and operators take to combat these cold-weather difficulties and they vary based on the operation, the lubricants in use, and of course the extremity of the cold.
It begins with awareness of the conditions and of the forecasting of conditions. In critical operations, the significance of being able to continue their production dictates extensive planning to prepare for cold weather. Not operating impacts revenue generation, sometimes in the thousands, and hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As an example, processes are put in place based on temperature expectations and conditions.
The interpretation of what would be viewed as a Cold Weather Alert is and will be dependent on the operation and the location. In the example above 32° F (0° C) is the trigger for Cold Weather. This would certainly differ in a northern climate that experiences temperatures well below zero.
So, with that variability in mind there will also be Preparations involved regarding the operation of equipment and the lubricants, fluids, and systems involved. In the case of a mining operation that involves the movement of many pieces of equipment including draglines, haul trucks, end dumps, loaders, conveyors, crushers, etc., here are some of the preparations and processes that may take place:
Lubrication products in many cases are designed and formulated with the environmental conditions as a prerequisite to their characteristics and properties.
Greases are made in different NLGI grades to accommodate lower temperature conditions, like automobile engine oil, gear oils may be chosen with decreased viscosities to handle lower temperature conditions. In Southern climates a product like the Whitmore Caliber 3M grease may handle any seasonal changes as it will work well in temperatures down to -20° F (-29° C), depending on the grade chosen.
In Northern climates a product like the Whitmore Legacy M grease may be the option as it can be used in temperatures down to -35° F (-37° C). A Jet-Lube product like the NCS-30® Arctic thread compound can be used on drilling applications down to -40° F (-40° C) and in industrial anti-seize applications down to -65° F (-54° C).
The choice of lubrication system design and type may also be a consideration based on the environmental conditions that the equipment may be operating in.
A FARVAL lubrication system uses hydraulic movement to direct pistons to dispense the lubricant and typically can handle heavier greases in colder weather. The LINCOLN injector systems depend on a product venting to allow for the injectors to reload with lubricant and be ready for the next lube cycle.
Here are some of the steps that are taken to prevent and resolve issues with the cold weather.
Lubricant containers or tanks are insulated or heated using heat blankets, heat bands or space heaters around them. Piping of the lubricant may be wrapped and insulated or traced with heat tape.
Many gearing applications are designed with case heaters that will warm the gear oil within them. They are turned on at an appropriate time to prepare for expected cold weather. Circulation pumps are kept running even during idle times of the machine or gearbox to keep the oil circulating.
If the equipment is shut-down for periods of time during the evening until normal operations begin again in the morning start-up procedures may include:
There are products on the market like the Whitmore All-Season Open Gear products that has worked well in temperature ranges from - 30° F (-34° C) to 100° F (38° C). Use of this type product virtually eliminates the seasonal product issue, but it too should also be monitored.
Jet-Lube has pipe thread lubricants for the Oil & Gas industry that can be applied in weather as cold as 40° F (-40° C). Anti-Seize lubricants down to -65° F (-54° C).
The lubrication process begins with the selection of The Right Lubricant… It does not end until that lubricant reaches its destination. Whitmore | Jet-Lube has been providing lubricants and specialty products globally for decades. From Siberia to the Yukon we understand what it takes to lubricate equipment in cold weather.
So, remember the Scout motto… Be Prepared.
It’s Cold Outside.