Reliability program helps brick and concrete block operations avoid downtime

Brick Making Facility

At Lubrication Engineers, we understand the important role lubricants play in brick and concrete block facilities. We have a wide range of high-performance greases and oils that will protect your equipment and help you avoid downtime. However, we don’t just sell enhanced lubricants; we sell lubricant reliability.

LE’s comprehensive lubrication reliability program can have an immediate impact by increasing machine life and decreasing maintenance costs and downtime. LE’s program focuses on the use of correct lubricants as well as the proper care of these lubricants, which means ensuring that they are kept contaminant-free to extend the life of the lubricants as well as the expensive equipment they protect. Additionally, employee satisfaction and safety are enhanced when a lubrication reliability program is in place.

Critical equipment requires reliable lubrication solutions

The brick and concrete block industry has multiple pieces of critical equipment that can cause immediate downtime if there are problems, in particular kiln carts; mixer, pug mill and extruder gearboxes; exhaust and dryer fans; and hydraulics. Failures of these four applications can be catastrophic because if they shut down, production may also have to stop. In an industry with 24/7 production, it is extremely important for everyone involved – from the corporate office to the plant floor – to have solutions to any challenges they face with these four critical applications.

With knowledgeable personnel, years of experience in the industry, lubricants that significantly outperform the competition, and a wide range of lubrication reliability solutions, Lubrication Engineers has achieved demonstrable results with each of these four critical applications. Following are these four applications and the challenges they present for brick and concrete block operations, along with our recommended solutions.

  • Kiln carts

    Kiln carts

    Kiln carts

    A typical brick and concrete block facility has 70 to 140 large kiln carts (aka kiln cars) for transporting raw, wet bricks through the hot kiln tunnel where they are fired. Each cart has between 12 to 16 bearings and has a load of 12 to 60 tons riding on those wheel bearings. This means a facility could have more than 2,000 kiln cart bearings needing to be relubricated on a regular basis, requiring an excessive amount of grease consumption and maintenance hours. These heavily loaded carts operate in extreme heat, so the use of a reliable, high-temperature grease that won’t drop out of the bearing is extremely important. Bearing failures can be catastrophic, especially if a wheel bearing fails while the cart is in the kiln – a “train wreck” – making it impossible to roll the cart out of the kiln. The whole brick-making process comes to a halt if the kiln must be shut down, with an extremely costly loss in production.

    Under these hot, heavily loaded conditions, many greases will melt and run out of the bearing or the oil will bleed out of the grease, leaving an unprotected bearing and a hardened residue that must be chiseled out before the bearing can be properly lubricated. This is a time-consuming process. Not so with LE’s Almasol High Temperature Lubricant (1250-1251), which has a track record of exceptional performance in kiln cart bearings. It has no dropping point and will not melt. With this grease, mechanics will no longer have to chisel hard grease out of bearings and zerk fittings. In addition, Almasol 1250-1251 stays soft in the drum and is easier to pump for facilities that keep their drums above the pit.

    After switching to Almasol 1250 or 1251, facilities can extend their relubrication intervals from weeks to months, depending on the number of times the cart goes through the kiln and the temperature to which the wheel bearings are exposed. More importantly, the facilities will have fewer bearing failures and production stoppages.

  • Exhaust & Dryer Fans

    Exhaust & Dryer Fans

    Exhaust & Dryer Fans

    At brick and concrete facilities, large exhaust and dryer fans are used to draw air through the kiln to get an even heat on the bricks. They are an essential part of the process of producing quality bricks; if fans aren’t operating, you aren’t going to get a proper cook on the bricks, leading to a lost batch. The correct flow and direction of air is critical. Many of these fans are on top of the kilns, making them a challenge to get to for maintenance. These fans also operate in an environment that is often warm and constantly full of abrasive contamination. Failures of these fans cause immediate downtime with a halt to the entire brick-making process.

    LE has two recommended greases for this application: Almasol® High Temperature Lubricant (1250-1251) and Monocal® GP Grease (1499), both of which have exceptional performance in this application. Due to their remote locations, LE’s single- or multi-point automatic lubrication systems may be recommended to reduce maintenance time and enhance safety. For top- and side-mounted fans, our Xport® Star Vario Single-Point Lubricators are an excellent choice; their visual indicators enable operators to see from a distance if there’s a problem.

    LE’s experienced personnel can help with your facility be successful by recommending the best grease for your needs as well as guide you through what points should be lubricated, the selection of single- or multi-point lubrication systems, and what type of mount should be used. In addition, they can assist with bearing calculations, which are essential to determining the right lubrication amounts and intervals.

  • Mixers, Pug Mills & Extruders

    Mixers, Pug Mills & Extruders

    Mixers, Pug Mills, Extruders

    In brick and concrete block facilities, the gearboxes of the mixers, pug mills and extruders often fail due to the significant abrasive contamination that occurs in these dusty environments. Gearbox failures on these critical pieces of equipment can cause a complete stop in production. To avoid catastrophic production losses associated with unplanned downtime, facilities usually resort to frequent oil changes. Although planned, these frequent oil changes are also costly, requiring downtime as well as excessive maintenance hours, oil consumption and waste oil disposal. In short, you’ve got gearbox problems.

    Not to worry, LE has gearbox solutions! We start with our extremely popular high-performance gear oil – Duolec® Industrial Gear Oil – which has shown excellent performance and oil life extension in this application. However, to extend oil change intervals while continuing to protect this critical equipment, LE recommends a program approach – not just a lubricant switch.

    We recommend Xclude® Breathers and Xtract® Adapter Kits for mitigating ingression of particulates and limiting moisture in the gear oil reservoir. We recommend an Xtract® Filter Cart when draining and filling the gearbox to remove the ever-present particulate contamination in these facilities. And finally, a robust reliability program should include Xamine® Oil Analysis, the key to peace of mind and safely extending drain intervals.

  • Hydraulics



    Most brick and concrete block operations have a variety of hydraulic equipment scattered throughout their facilities, including the hydraulics that load or unload bricks from the carts. The challenges associated with hydraulic equipment include the constant threat of abrasive and moisture contamination. When contamination causes the equipment to stop, that means the facility cannot load or unload the kiln carts, which causes an immediate stop in production. Because of the high contamination in the hydraulic reservoirs, the facilities often resort to frequent oil changes or they use the oil too long and failures occur. Either way, downtime results.

    Every time a piece of critical equipment stops in a brick or concrete stone facility, everything else stops. That’s why LE recommends a lubrication reliability program approach, instead of just drain and refill whenever you have a problem. A program approach helps you make wise decisions on if and when to change the oil and enables you to extend the useful life of the oil.

    To start, proper hydraulic oil selection is important, and LE offers a wide range of hydraulic oils, including our Equipower and Equipower Ultra Hydraulic Oils – to meet the needs of the application. Next, oil analysis is key, as it will help reveal the challenges you are facing and enable you to chart a path for improvement and to start safely extending your oil change intervals. In addition, we recommend Xclude® High-Humidity Check Valve Breathers and Xtract® Adapter Kits for mitigating ingression of particulates and limiting moisture in the reservoir, and an Xtract® Filter Cart when draining and filling to remove the ever-present particulate contamination in these facilities.