A member from Lincoln Lubrication SA's maintenance team checks the Quick Lube in a centrifugal machine.

Progressive Lubrication Systems Keep Sugar Farmers in Business

One company's South African branch equips farm equipment with automatic lubrication systems to improve operating costs and reliability.

With Sub Saharan sugar farmers already facing droughts and depressed sugar prices, downtime in agricultural machinery can be the deciding factor that forces them to close down their mills. To address the needs of this market, Lincoln Lubrication provides its automatic lubrication systems through its South African branch to improve the longevity and operating costs of crop sprayers and sugar milling trains.

The sugar industry is an integral part of the Sub Sahara socio-economic system. According to the South African Sugar Association, “Sugar mills and accompanying cane farms form the backbone of the nearest rural town. They are also major contributors to the development of secondary economic activity, services, and infrastructure.”

Lincoln's full lubrication solutions help farmers increase their overall profits by keeping their machinery up and running. Often, farmers will maintain their own lubrication systems using components and services from various suppliers. But without proper consultation, they may choose lubricants based on their initial price points, and not consider potential damage it could have on moving parts. For example, lubricants that are not inert with certain metals at high temperatures and mixing conditions can result in build-up, and others may thicken in contact with sugary residue on mill bearings. It is also important to consider that lubrication reaches all the necessary grease points to reduce wear. 

Lincoln showed its automated lubrication and Muster II fire suppression system on a crop sprayer at Nampo 2017. The metering device ensure lubrication flows to all grease points from a single location.

Lincoln Lubrication SA showed its automated lubrication and Muster II fire suppression system on a crop sprayer at Nampo 2017. The metering device ensures that all grease points are lubricated by sending oil from a single location. 

The company installs its progressive lubrication systems to allocate flow to individual mill bearings. It sends high volumes of oil to metering devices that divide flow to send oil to individual grease points. Serving 14 sugar mills in South Africa and 3 in Swaziland, the company also installs digital monitoring systems that send real time data to the company’s maintenance team. 

The company's high-pressure, high-volume ZPU/-02 progressive system is a common one used to lubricate mill bearings on the front of the sugar mill trains. It uses a Powermaster 4 high-volume drum pump with a 50:1 ratio to send oil, grease, and other lubricants to one or more metering device. 

Meanwhile, a PLC sends diagnostics and analog alarm signals to a mill control room so they can be addressed by a maintenance team. Analog alarms are set up on the pump drum to monitor grease levels, and others sense pump vibrations to ensure safe operation. 

Courtesy of SKF

Progressive systems consist of a high-volume pump (orange, right) attached to metering devices (black, left) that deliver oil to mill bearings and other grease points. A programmable logic computer (blue, center) sends data and analog alarm signals to a control room for monitoring.  

Analog sensors at grease points signal dryness, over lubrication, and blockages of flow. The team can adjust the flow rate through the metering device to ensure healthy operations. The diagnostics system stores data so farmers can track long-term performance.

By ensuring healthy operation of sugar mill trucks, farmers can save a lot more money than they could by choosing low-cost lubricants. In the end, consistent monitoring and a close relationship with the local lubrication company helps farmers stay competitive in the global sugar industry, all while improving the health of their local economy. 

TAGS: IoT
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