Relation between lubrication and vibration analysis

August 14, 2020

Oil analysis, as well as vibration analysis, are two predictive techniques widely used in the maintenance of industrial machinery and equipment.

While oil analysis is used to detect wear on moving parts and the presence of contaminating substances, vibration analysis allows the detection of potential failures such as unbalance, misalignment, wear on gears and bearings, among others.

Continuous monitoring and vibration analysis has been a recurring theme in the texts published on this blog, so this blog focuses more on the lubrication aspects.


Oil leakage or lack of lubrication can cause several losses, among them:

– Cost of the wasted oil itself: This is the direct and most obvious cost in case of an oil spill.

Some machines may require specific, higher-priced lubricants, so the impact of this waste should not be underestimated.

– Reducing component life: Lubricants reduce friction between solid parts, i.e., they form a fluid layer that prevents direct contact between components.

In general, industrial components have a natural wear process as they are operated.

However, abnormal wear can be directly related to insufficient oil quantity in the lubrication. This is the case in figure (3) of the following example:

The figure shows the action of the fluid layer, called the lubricating film.

In the latter case, when there is no lubrication or when it is already dry, accentuated wear occurs, and may even result in welding points, due to excessive heating of the surfaces, which stick together and weld.

– Increased unhealthiness on the factory floor. In case of leaks, the lubricants can reach people’s passage points, such as corridors or even areas walked on by the maintenance staff, making the floor slippery and accident-prone.

Furthermore, depending on the temperature and composition of the lubricants, when they come into contact with human skin, burns, allergies, and other injuries can occur.

– Soil contamination. In extreme cases of leaks, seepage can occur and contaminate the surrounding soil.

This, in addition to the environmental impact, can result in fines and criminal penalties.


Considering the problems that arise from a lack of lubrication, it is important to pay attention to the best practices for proper lubrication.

– Choosing the right lubricant: This task may seem simple, but there are a multitude of options available in the market, and each one of them has different characteristics.

Lubricants can vary according to viscosity (flow resistance), relative density, combustion point, etc.

On the other hand, machines and their components also have different lubrication requirements.

It varies depending on factors such as operating speed, load conditions, friction types, and industry standards.

Therefore, choosing the proper lubrication system is critical for the smooth operation of the machinery, reducing the possibility of the problems mentioned above.

– Investigate: In case of leaks or machines consuming oil excessively, identifying the source and ascertaining the causes must be a priority, in order to avoid problem repetition and get to know the machinery better.

– Cleaning: The cleaner and more organized the shop floor, the easier it is to visually detect lubrication-related problems.

In this way, the operator himself, or employees on the machine route, may be able to visually identify problems such as oil leaks or overheating of components, in the case of the presence of smoke, for example.

History of leaks or excess consumption: After identifying leaks or excessive consumption of lubricants (lack of lubrication), it is advisable to record the points of occurrence, as well as details about the cause and resolution.

This results in a basis for tracking and tracing the problem, enabling more accurate and efficient supervision.


In components where lubrication is present, continuous monitoring of vibration and temperature can be an important ally in the detection and consequent prevention of failures.

As shown in the previous figure, in the absence of lubrication, the components present greater friction, due to direct contact between solids.

This, on the other hand, generates a higher level of vibration.

In addition, this direct contact can also heat up the components, resulting in a rise in system temperature.

The faster the operating speed of the machine, the faster this heating of the parts tends to be.

Continuous vibration and temperature monitoring allows these changes to be identified and action can be taken before an actual failure occurs.

Usually these are subtle changes, but they can be identified through a history of data, analyzing the trend and evaluating changes in the expected behavior.

Therefore, the Solution, which performs continuous monitoring of machines and their components, can be an important ally in tracking your lubrication.

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