Automatic Lubricator Reaches Remote Locations

J. Mike Weiksner, Savannah River Site J. Mike Weiksner, Savannah River Site
Tags: automatic lubrication, bearing lubrication, greases

The Savannah River Site is located in the southeastern coastal area of the United States. Located in South Carolina, it is bordered to the west by the Savannah River. As a U.S. government Department of Energy facility, it provides safe management of nuclear materials and the environment. The Site Utilities Department (SUD) is a department within Solid Waste and Infrastructure that is within the Operations business unit of the Savannah River Site.

In 2002, the SUD installed single-point automatic lubricators on the coal transfer screw conveyor in the powerhouse and on the primary cooling water pump in the pumping station. The coal transfer screw conveyor is located on the sixth floor of the powerhouse (Figure 1) and is difficult to access for lubrication rounds because of the number of stairs and location of the ladder. To access the primary cooling water pump at the river pumping station (Figure 2), a mechanic must travel approximately 10 miles from his normal work location, unlock a security gate and walk down several flights of stairs to perform lubrication activities.

Prior to installing the automatic lubricators on the coal transfer screw conveyor, the line shaft journal bearings had a history of squealing that caused concern for shaft wear and unplanned outages due to shaft seizure. Six automatic lubricators were installed on the screw conveyor at a cost of approximately $1,100. Savings are estimated to be approximately $500 per year in labor. Cost avoidance of an unplanned outage of the screw conveyor is estimated to be more than $30,000 because it would be necessary to have a bucket crane temporarily load coal to the boiler coal feed hoppers while performing repairs on the screw conveyor assembly. Installation of the automatic lubricators eliminated all bearing squeal and assured that the screw conveyor was regularly lubricated.

Four automatic lubricators were installed for lubrication of the antifriction bearings on the primary cooling water pump - two on the motor and two on the pump. In this application, two different greases were used because of the operating temperatures of the bearings. The remote access of the primary cooling water pump at the river made it difficult for mechanics to include them in their lubrication rounds. Installation of the automatic lubricators gave both operations and maintenance personnel the satisfaction that the pump bearings were being lubricated and eliminated the question, “Did the pump and motor get greased?” For remote or hard-to-reach locations, automatic lubricators offer a cost-effective alternative to periodic manual lubrication with a grease gun, which can improve lubrication, reduce preventive maintenance costs and improve equipment reliability.


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