In this article, a case will be made for automatic lubrication as a true necessity, rather than an option. Here are just five of many reasons why automatic lubrication is so valuable.


To maximize productivity, increase performance and keep repair costs low proper regular maintenance of equipment is required to prolong the life of the components. Reliable lubrication at the right intervals and amounts helps ensure the life of a fleet and the quality of work it can perform. With an automatic lubrication system equipment gets consistent lubrication more frequently than a manual application process.  This frequency is important as having too little lubrication creates wear and heat, while too much can create drag, heat and wear, and damaged seals.

“The effects of under-lubrication are well known – increased component wear, premature failure, higher energy usage, and increased operating and maintenance costs,” says Charles Hartl, Industrial Lubrication Sales Manager at Graco’s Lubrication Equipment Division. “But the effects of over-lubrication are just as harmful. It wastes lubricant, leads to excess heat buildup, puts stress on lube points and increases downtime. The solution is obvious: optimal lubrication.”

Ideal machine and vehicle performance requires maintaining a minimal lube film to separate the moving surfaces under all speeds and loads. For most grease applications, the volume of grease required is equal to an average thickness of 0.001 inch (1/1000 inch) of the surface area, applied every four hours. For oil applications, the same thickness is applied hourly. Even with an acceptable variance of +/- 20 percent, achieving this film thickness with manual application is next to impossible. However, for metering devices in modern automatic lubrication systems, this is an easy task.


Environmental concerns are another factor. First, a well-lubricated machine is more energy efficient. This benefits the environment as well as the bottom line. Second, most lubricants are derived from the same crude oil used to produce fossil fuels, so using less lubricant is better for the environment. Automatic lubrication applies less lubricant more frequently, reducing waste and therefore protecting the environment.


Reliability is always a concern. A manual lubrication plan can result in points being missed occasionally or forgotten entirely until something breaks. With automatic lubrication, you can trust that the right amount of lubricant is reaching critical pivots, bearings and joints at the right frequency. Automatic lubrication systems also offer system monitoring options, alerting you to a problem with the lubrication supply.


In many operating conditions, there are natural contaminants present, which can negatively impact lubrication points and cause more wear and tear, especially when manual lubrication methods are used. Most often, lubrication points are not properly cleaned prior to manually lubricating, and the coupler used to attach to the point is often dirty too. Contaminants such as chemicals, rocks, sand and other particles are then forced into the lubrication point. With automatic lubrication, the grease is pumped through a filter before it enters the reservoir of the lubricator, limiting the penetration of contaminants into these lubrication points.


The optimal time to lubricate a bearing is while it is moving, which is an unsafe condition for the people applying the lubricant. Lubricant points are also often in very hard-to-reach locations, which can cause technicians or operators to put themselves in risky situations. In general, automatic lubrication provides a safer method of supplying the required lubrication.

Modern automatic lubrication products – such as those offered by Graco – help equipment owners overcome the cost penalties of conventional manual lubrication. By applying the right amount of clean lubricant at frequent intervals and monitoring lube system performance, optimum lubrication is ensured.

Protect your equipment and your employees by utilizing automatic lubrication in your operation.

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