The differences between lubrication and dispense are a little nuanced. Dispensing is the process of putting grease or oil on an assembled part, while lubrication is the process of lubricating a machine that assembles parts. In lubrication, the goal is to extend the life of the bearings, which extends the machine's life. Both processes have become more automated over the last decade. Cost of material, labor shortages, and reliability issues have been the most significant driving factors in the automation trend. The greases used are incredibly costly, especially specialty greases. So, instances of incorrect or over-application are expensive.
Dale and Tim discuss the various dispensing solutions for manufacturers – manual, automated, or a combination of the two. Systems can be completely automatic and driven by a PLC, or they can be partially automated where a foot pedal or gun is used. In these partially automated systems, the volume is controlled, but it does not remove the potential for human error regarding placement. Manufacturers can track dispensing volumes with flow meters or volume counters, which provide feedback on what is dispensed and how much.
Manufacturers also have the opportunity to associate lubrication details to part numbers through a sophisticated but straightforward barcoding system. Now, manufacturers have proof of specific stages in production, which is critical in avoiding warranty and liability issues.
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