The Reality of Multipurpose Greases

Greases can be considered the lifeblood of a machine. Proper grease and lubrication practices, reduce the risk of damage or malfunction. But budget limitations happen, timetables change, and sometimes processes need adjusting. Often, this includes swapping out individual greases for a multipurpose grease in the hopes of simplifying the process and saving money.

But not all greases are created equal. In this article, we will delve into what a multipurpose grease means for you, your employees, machinery, and budget.

Let's start with understanding what a grease lubricant is.

The purpose of grease lubrication is to ensure your machines are operating safely and at the highest quality standard possible. By adding grease to your machines, you are reducing the wear and tear that would occur naturally through friction and exposure to outside elements such as temperature, pressure, and the environment.

Normally when selecting the appropriate grease for your machines, you would look at the three main components of a lubricating grease - the base oil, the thickener, and the additives. Each of these components comes with their own set of rules and specifications, and depending on what your original equipment manufacturer (OEM) states are the proper lubrication requirements for your machine, you can select the best variation that accurately fits your needs.

Multipurpose grease was developed with the idea of simplifying the lubrication selection process with an all-in-one grease.

Multipurpose greases combine the features of two or more specialized greases used for more than one function. They are great for preventing rust and oxidation while reducing wear, damage and friction in machines that operate at normal temperature, load, and speed conditions.

This helps your machines operate at the highest quality standard possible.

Multipurpose grease is also known for easily staying where the lubrication is needed instead of seeping out. Grease can act as an extra adhesive around the seals of the machines, providing extra protection from the elements.

Since a multipurpose grease does the job of many individual greases, it can help eliminate the need of having to store and use multiple greases. By reducing the overall number of lubricants in an industrial facility, you minimize the risk of accidentally using the wrong grease or improperly handling different greases. This can save you a significant amount of time, money, and resources.

Multipurpose greases tend to be made with either a lithium or calcium soap, which improves stability and resistance to factors such as pressure, water, corrosion, and even varying temperatures, typically -20°C to 130°C.

Despite these benefits, some industry professionals claim that multipurpose greases have the potential to cause more harm than good.

It is nearly impossible to find a single grease that can meet all the diverse applications typically required with heavy machinery. The concept of one universal lubricating grease does not carry weight for some industry leaders for several reasons.

  • The term "multipurpose" is not clearly defined or universal, and is sometimes considered as marketing jargon as opposed to a scientific statement. This is because there are no industry standards or benchmarks that must be met to qualify as "multipurpose". Without an industry standard, these greases can vary widely in their performance and efficiency.
  • When analyzed, multipurpose grease chemical compositions can differ widely. This makes it difficult to analyze how your machines are reacting to the grease. If they are reacting negatively, it can be challenging to identify what specific chemical is causing the adverse reaction. With a standard grease set-up, you would be able to properly monitor each grease component effectively and select specific properties that work well with your machines.
  • Multipurpose greases may not operate efficiently under extreme fluctuating conditions, such as excessive heat, speed, and load. This can have catastrophic repercussions for you, your team, and your equipment.
  • Multipurpose grease application assumes that multiple machines have the same lubrication needs. Each machine can have varying grease requirements, and by treating them the same, you run the risk of experiencing severe negative outcomes. Each machine is normally assigned a specifically formulated grease to help reduce wear and damage. By taking this out of the equation, you run the risk of breakdowns. Resulting malfunctions and shutdowns can cost you precious time and money, not only to fix the problem, but to try and figure out which component of the multipurpose grease caused the failure.

While multipurpose greases have several positive features and can make a difference in certain machinery, it may not be the best solution for your needs. One product cannot deliver the same caliber of results as a specifically-tailored grease formula designed for your machines and the unique conditions they operate in.

While lubrication should be a part of everyone's maintenance process, over-reliance on multipurpose greases may not result in optimal performance and return on investment as with a carefully customized grease.