Skilled industries in supply, manufacturing and construction are lynchpins of the UK’s economy, providing a key majority of employment as well as the wide variety of goods and services on which we as a country rely. If you are relatively new to leadership to manufacturing or construction, you may be familiarising yourself with the various processes that keep your business ticking. One crucial aspect of this is equipment maintenance – in particular, lubrication. But why is it so important to oversee?
What is Lubrication?
To understand the importance of proper equipment maintenance, we must first understand the very basics of said maintenance. Lubrication is a fundamental provision in mechanical and industrial equipment, and has been deployed to great effect since the early adoption of mechanised systems.
Lubrication, in essence, is the application of a substance to moving parts that enables their ease of movement. This substance is often an oil or grease, which can form a slick surface on parts to enable the smooth passage of materials across each other.
Lubricating moving parts ensures that friction is minimised, which has two principal effects in itself. Firstly, friction can cause parts to wear and break down; lubrication reduces the rate at which parts wear. Secondly, friction can be an impediment to optimal operation, requiring additional force to overcome; lubrication improves the efficiency of equipment.
Adding lubricants to systems can also have other long-term benefits, especially where lubricants are mixed with materials that have additional properties. When a lubricant coats a part, it creates a barrier between that part and the air. As such, the part is protected from humidity and oxygen, preventing corrosion and oxidation. As part of an active lubrication system, whether through internal equipment or the regular injection of lubricants via DeWalt grease guns, lubricants can also have cooling and cleaning effects.
The general purpose of lubrication is now clear, but what makes it an essential activity in industrial and manufacturing settings? There are two key motivations for regular lubrication as part of a maintenance programme: safety and longevity.
Equipment safety is the primary concern for businesses in the short term, legally obliged as they are to provide a safe working environment for their staff. Poorly maintained equipment is more likely to suffer catastrophic breakdown, and pose a serious injury risk to employees. Regular lubrication ensures parts are looked-after, and the possibility of accidents minimised.
Looking at the long term, businesses are also incentivised to ensure their equipment runs optimally for the longest possible time. Equipment breakages and faults cost both time and money to repair, in a number of ways; not only is there the cost and labour of repairs to consider, but also the downtime and employee wage costs in tandem. Regular lubrication keeps equipment running as it should, maximising effectiveness.
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