Importance of Lubricants for Machine Maintenance

Importance of Lubricants for Machine Maintenance

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Machine failures caused by the lack of lubrication are the most preventable type of failures for rotating machinery, yet, it's an area of the industry that isn't allocated the appropriate level of attention. Many people believe that lubrication is a menial job, even though lubricating your equipment correctly is one of the most crucial elements in a reliability programme and one reason why such an important job may be underrated by those who are supposed to do it, is that some technicians fail to recognize the critical importance of what it does for their machines.

Lubricating your machinery with suitable oils and following a carefully constructed maintenance programme can make all the difference in its performance! Remember, lubrication makes your systems run more smoothly and cleaner and helps keep them from wearing out so quickly; it also enables you to save money in the long term by extending their lifespan.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • What is a Lubricant
  • Why are Lubricant necessary in Machine maintenance
  • Different types of Lubricant and their Applications
  • Best Recommended Lubricants that improve car Performance
  • Frequently Asked Questions 
  • Conclusion

What is a Lubricant?

Lubricants are oils, fluids, greases, and other compounds that reduce friction, binding, wear or exclude moisture. The primary function of a lubricant is to displace solid surfaces with a fluid film. They modify surface properties, regulate temperature, or remove debris. Additives help deliver reduced friction and wear, increased viscosity, improved viscosity index, resistance to corrosion and oxidation, aging or contamination, etc. Lubricants usually contain less than 10% additives and 90% base oil (mostly petroleum fractions and mineral oils). Vegetable oils such as hydrogenated polyolefins, fluorocarbons, silicones, and esters, can also be used as base oils.

Why are lubricants necessary in machine maintenance?

Proper lubrication keeps equipment operating at an acceptable temperature and friction level, vastly reducing the potential for unexpected maintenance requirements. Lubrication allows for more consistent operation by helping absorb shock and vibration and keep equipment running as expected. Lubricants perform many purposes, but ultimately they reduce unwanted friction (the type of resistance that comes when solid surfaces slide against each other).

Beyond friction reduction, lubricants can also provide:

1  Heat control :

When heat is generated by friction, it is absorbed and transferred by the flowing lubricant; thus, heat generation is reduced by the lubricant's reduction of friction.

2. Contamination control :

The use of lubricants and greases is used to create a seal between a machine's internal components and the external environment, which prevents the ingress of contamination. When oils are circulated, the device carries contaminants to a sump, tank, or filter, where they can be removed.

3. Protection against chemical attack :

Lubricants and their additives serve to coat the surfaces of machine components, thus protecting them from corrosion.

4.Transfer of energy : 

The best lubricant for the transfer of energy within a hydraulic system is Hydraulic oil because of its incompressible nature.

Different Types of Lubricant and their Applications

Lubricants are helpful for reducing the friction between two surfaces but bear in mind that each oil is unique, and the lubrication process is a relatively simple task; thus, having an understanding of the various types of lubricants ensures that the incorrect lubricant is never used for the incorrect application because this will undoubtedly reduce machine downtime and failure.

Listed below are some common lubricants and their applications:


Greases are created by combining oils (typically mineral oil) and thickeners (such as lithium-based soaps). Lubricants such as graphite, molybdenum disulfide, and others may be combined with additional particles. Greases and lubricants work well together because greases are capable of mixing with lubricants, which contributes to the stickiness of the lubricants, causing them to collect on surfaces.

Grease can act as a shield, protecting surfaces from contaminants that can so easily damage the surface. Several greases and oils, for example, came in a variety of consistencies. Grease has a disadvantage in fast-running devices due to its extreme thickness and sticky nature, which can easily cause resistance.


They are thin liquids made of long polymer chains with additional additives. Such as antioxidants, which prevent the oil from oxidizing, corrosion inhibitors, which prevent corrosion, and detergents, which prevent the formation of the deposits.

There are different weights of oils which is based on their viscosity, and even though they are difficult to squeeze out between surfaces of the long chain, the application of oils creates a slippery barrier between them.

Penetrating Lubricants

This type of lubricant serves as a shield for varieties of stuck bolt contaminants. They are not designed for long-term lubrication because of their low viscosity. They are designed for one purpose: to infiltrate the small cracks on the surfaces, increase lubrication, and split up the rust.

Dry Lubricants

This type of lubricant is known for its slippery molecular nature, which reduces friction between surfaces, and they are also available in spray form, where they are mixed with alcohol, water, or other volatile solvents that evaporate after application. Components such as silicon, graphite, molybdenum, and PTFE, are present in dry lubricants.

Best Recommended Lubricants that improves car performance

1. Shell Helix HX3 20W-50 1L

  • Product type: Engine oil for passenger car
  • Specification: API SL/CF
  • SAE Grade: 20W-50
  • Multi-fuel capability: Can be used for gasoline, diesel and gas engines.
  • Premium mineral Oil with Superior quality
  • Active cleansing technology
  • Helps to protect against harmful sludge and varnish deposits
  • Anti-wear additive
  • Multi-fuel capability
  • Provides reliable wear protection
  • High viscosity
  • Helps to reduce leaks in older, high-mileage engines
  • Capacity: 1L

2. LubeMax Wire Rope Grease 18Kg

Applications of LubeMax Wire Rope Grease 18Kg

  • Quayside ship to shore cranes
  • Container handling equipment including straddle carriers and reach stackers
  • Marine Deck and Winch ropes
  • All lifting and hoist ropes in mining and construction industries
  • Lift and drag ropes used in logging and forestry

3. Hyundai XTeer Gasoline Engine Oil G500 20W50 4L

Tikweld Welding Supplies and Services is the distributor of Hyundai XTeer Engine Oil in Nigeria. This Hyundai XTeer Gasoline Engine Oil G500 20W50 4L is a gasoline engine oil product made of high-quality base oil and premium additives. It is compliant with API SL Grade and applicable to gasoline engines. Our Hyundai XTeer Gasoline Engine Oil G500 20W50 4L has outstanding protection and lubricity in all gasoline vehicle (both naturally aspirated and turbocharged engines).

Everest 0W-20 Full Synthetic Motor Oil 1Ltr

Our Everest 0W-20 Full Synthetic Motor Oil 1Ltr meets or exceeds car manufacturers’ ILSAC GF-5 and American Petroleum Institute (API) Resource Conserving SN PLUS service classifications and is compatible with all prior API categories.  Everest 0W-20 Full Synthetic Motor Oil has been field tested to be comparable to most American, Asian and European manufacturers’ standards including ACEA A1/B1 & A5/B5, GM 6094M, Chrysler MS6395, Ford WSS-M2C947A, and many other OEM’s specifications where a full synthetic API SN/GF-5 motor oil is recommended.

LIQUI MOLY Super Diesel Additive 250ml

Properties Liqui Moly Super Diesel Additive 250ml

  • Keeps the fuel system clean
  • For low-sulfur diesel fuels
  • Keeps injection nozzles clean
  • Tested for catalytic converters
  • Prevents seizing and the injector needles from gumming up
  • Boosts the cetane number
  • Optimizes engine performance
  • Increases the lubricating effect
  • Excellent cleanliness
  • Prevents the build-up of deposits
  • Good corrosion protection
  • Guarantees low fuel consumption
  • High wear resistance

Important steps in Maintaining Machines

1. Keep Daily Records of Use and Oversee Operation

When machines are handled by unskilled workmen, the tendency of breaking down is high, and taking proper records of machinery use can help pinpoint when and where the machinery is being used by inadequately skilled operators. The time the machine is out of services will also be monitored, and what's causing this, which is sometimes overlooked during runbooks or reports.

In recent times a new way to oversee the operations of large machinery is via GPS. Where the device tracks the machine movement and records it in digital records that are organized to be easily retrieved, problems can be caught early, and breakdowns can be prevented.

2. Maintain a Schedule of Planned Maintenance

Because components break down, and wear is inevitable. It is good to establish forecasts for the expected life of all components and replace them on schedule. Part replacement must also be done by knowledgeable technicians.

Bearings are key components of heavy machinery equipment and can be easily damaged or worn, so the Bearing housings should be regularly maintained, including inspection for corrosion and wear, and replaced when necessary. A maintenance log should also be kept to ensure regular checks are not missed and compliance is measured.

3. Lubricate and Clean Frequently

Working with machinery requires daily maintenance. Some components need to be lubricated on a regular basis, especially when in contact with moving parts like engines and power trains. Components, such as the hydraulic lifts and bearings, must be monitored and lubricated at the first sign of need.

Contamination can lead to machinery breakdown. Water is a major source of corrosion. Lubrication prevents corrosion. Maintaining seals and replacing filters will help keep lubricants free of contaminants.

4. Inspect and Monitor Components for Wear and Damage

To easily monitor machines, a planned maintenance schedule is best to predict component wear which should be done on a daily basis to monitor wear and prevent equipment failure. The machine components that must be replaced ahead of schedule may signal a larger problem that needs to be diagnosed. Ensure to always check belts, chains, and pulleys for alignment and condition. Inspect gears and sprockets for broken teeth, cracks, and misalignment.

Fluid analysis should also be part of a regular maintenance schedule: The Analysis of used lubricants and other fluids is an excellent way to diagnose problems and prevent machinery wear and breakdown. Identifying contaminants in the fluids can lead analysts to the source of wear and damage.

5. Protect Equipment During Storage

Large machinery should be stored under cover whenever possible. Motors, turbines, mixers, and other equipment should be rotated frequently. Inspect idle machinery for rust, condensation, and contamination. Don't forget to check all lubricants. Oil-mist lubrication is a good solution for the damaging effects of warm, humid environments.

Frequently asked questions

1. What are the two most important properties of a lubricant?

The properties of lubricants are given in the technical specifications of the production, but there are some properties that stand out depending on their main characteristics. They are viscosity, Viscosity index.

2. Why do we need lubricants?

A lubricant has different uses, including reducing the friction caused between two solid surfaces. In other words, a lubricant reduces the resistance when solid surfaces slide against each other. This friction reduction can be accomplished by separating two surfaces with a thin layer of lube or sticky substances.

3. Why is an engine oil's ability to cleanse important?

Keeping engine components clean is essential as it keeps them in good condition. If your engine components are dirty, the oil may not be lubricating and protecting the engine properly. Dirt build-up can also lead to premature engine damage. Shell Helix engine oils are designed to clean and protect engines for improved performance.

4. Why is the choice of engine oil so important?

Oil is the lifeblood of your car. Using the wrong engine is at risk of increased wear and corrosion. The formation of blockages can also lead to engine seizures. By putting Lubricants oil in the engine, you can carry on motoring with confidence and experience the feeling that your car has just been serviced – all for less than the cost of a tank of fuel.

5. How does oil protect my engine?

In many ways:

By cleaning the engine – Lubricants are designed to clear away debris, dirt, and deposits from engine components, thus preventing blockages in important oil ways. The oil helps to lock up the dirt and render it harmless until it is removed at the next oil change.

By reducing friction and minimizing wear – Lubricants form a protective film over the engine components and also possess special additives that act between the moving surfaces to prevent contact and reduce drag. This helps your engine to operate as quietly and effectively as the designers intended.

By removing heat – Lubricants carry heat away from hot areas in the machines, such as around the piston rings, where the temperature can reach up to 320°C and redistribute it around the engine.

To prevent corrosion and rust – Lubricants help to protect your engine components from corrosion beyond the normal oil-change interval. Benchmarking studies show that the above-mentioned lubricants provide best-in-class protection and help to extend your engine's life and avoid some expensive repairs.

6. What is engine oil made from?

The engine oil in your vehicle is made up of three important ingredients: base oils, viscosity modifiers, and performance additives. All three components must be appropriately balanced to provide maximum engine protection from damage.

7. Is it important to change oil, and  how often should I do this?

Yes! It is vital to change your oil and filter before the end of oil-change intervals indicated by your vehicle manufacturer, which is also determined based on the distance traveled or time. Regular oil changing helps to keep your engine oil in good condition and provides the best protection for all of your engine components.

8. How should I dispose of used oil?

Disposal of lubricants after use is very important because used oil can pollute the environment, so it should never be poured down the drain, which is illegal. Instead, take your waste to the official oil disposal or recycling bank located at local refuse collection points. You can also ask your local authority recycling officer for guidance.

9. Why is there a range of engine oils, and how do I know which one to choose?

The car owner guide specifies the minimum oil specification. Also, note that choosing the correct engine oil for a vehicle depends on the following;

  • The car's type – Every high-performance car definitely needs a higher performance oil.
  • The car's age – High performance coupled with fuel efficiency is common with modern cars, and advanced oils have been developed to help keep pace with increased engineering demands. For example, modern cars have blow-by-gas recirculation that can cause extreme oxidation in old-technology oils and sensitive exhaust gas after-treatment devices that can be poisoned by inappropriate oils.
  • The driving environment – modern motorway driving and heavy stop-start traffic requires higher quality oils to prevent increased engine wear and tear.

You may prefer one of our application-based products, such as Shell Helix HX7 K, which is specifically designed for cars that have been driven more than 100,000 km.

10. Will I really notice the difference if I don't make frequent oil changes?

When the oil is not changed on a regular basis, it will significantly reduce the level of protection provided against engine wear. Engine oil acts as a reservoir for all kinds of by-products that form when the fuel burns, including sludge, soot, water, and acidic material, as well as unburned and partially burned fuel. At the same time, the stress placed on the oil during engine operation gradually depletes the components that determine the oil's performance. Refreshing the oil on a regular basis ensures that the right balance of components is present in the oil.

It efficiently removes the waste materials that might otherwise result in increased deposit formation, corrosion of metal components, and increased wear in the machine.

11. Why not just keep topping up the engine oil?

If you keep topping up your engine, you put more stress on the older oil that remains in the engine, and this stress issue has become worse in recent years as lighter and modern engines now run with about 25% less oil in their sumps. Lubricants have a powerful ability to clean up your engine components and go on keeping engines clean through to the next oil change.


Lubricants have a role to play in improving the energy efficiency of both automotive and industrial machinery. However, care is needed, both by the machine designer and by the lubricant formulator, to ensure that any reduction in lubricant viscosity does not result in decreased durability. 

23rd Jun 2022 Chibueze Umeokolo

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