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CODES and STANDARDS

For Piping Systems proper selection of Material of Construction along with


Specifications, Adherence to Codes and Standards is essential. Standardization
reduces cost, confusion and inconvenience. Standards are published by Professional
Societies, Committees and Trade Organizations. It is also accepted by
Governments. The main objective is to have Standardization and Safety.

CODE : A group of general rules or systematic procedures for Design,


Fabrication, Installation and Inspection methods prepared in such a manner that
it can be adopted by legal jurisdiction and made into a law.
STANDARDS : Documents prepared by a Professional group or Committee
which are believed to be good and proper Engineering Practices and which
contain mandatory requirement.
RECOMMENDED PRACTICES : Documents prepared by professional group
or committee indicating Good Engineering Practices but which are optional.

Companies also develop Guides in order to have consistency in the documentation.


These cover various engineering methods which are considered good practices,
without specific recommendations or requirements.
Codes and Standards, besides being regulations, might also be considered as Design
Aids since they provide guidance from experts.
Each country has its own Codes and Standards. On global basis, American National
Standards are the most widely used and compliance with those requirements are
accepted world over. In India, other than American Standards, British and Indian
Standards are also used for design and selection of Piping Systems.
1. AMERICAN STANDARDS :
Not all American Standards are issued directly by American National Standards
Institute. The Material Standards are covered under ASTM (American Society
for Testing and Materials) and Dimension Standards under ANSI (American
National Standards Institute). Most of these Standards are adapted by ASME
(American Society for Mechanical Engineers).
The American Standards referred by Piping Engineers are:
o The American Petroleum Institute (API) : The Standards referred by
Piping Engineers are:
1. API 5L - Specification for Line Pipe
2. API 6D - Pipe Line Valves, End Closures, Connectors and
Swivels

3. API 6F - Recommended Practice for Fire Test for valves


4. API 593 - Ductile Iron Plug Valves - Flanged Ends
5. API 598 - Valve Inspection and Test
6. API 600 - Steel Gate Valves
7. API 601 - Metallic Gaskets for Refinery Piping
8. API 602 - Compact Design Carbon Steel Gate Valves
9. API 604 - Ductile Iron Gate Valves - Flanged Ends
10. API 605 - Large Diameter Carbon Steel Flanges
11. API 607 - Fire Test for Soft Seated Ball Valves
12. API 609 - Butterfly Valves
13. API 1104 - Standard for Welding Pipeline and Facilities
The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) : These specify the material
by its Chemical and Physical properties. When specific model of
manufacture of the element is not to be specified, then the material can
be identified by ANSI Standards. The most commonly used AISI
specifications are :
1. AISI 410 - 13% Chromium Alloy Steel
2. AISI 304 - 18/8 Austenitic Stainless Steel
3. AISI 316 - 18/8/3 Austenitic Stainless Steel
American National Standard Institute (ANSI) and The American Society
for Mechanical Engineers (ASME) : The American National Standards
Institute's standards used in the design of the Piping Systems are :
1. B31.1 - 2001 - Power Piping: Piping for industrial plants and
marine applications. This code prescribes minimum requirements
for the design, materials, fabrication, erection, test, and inspection
of power and auxiliary service piping systems for electric
generation stations, industrial institutional plants, central and
district heating plants.
The code covers boiler external piping for power boilers and high
temperature, high pressure water boilers in which steam or vapor
is generated at a pressure of more than 15 pounds per square inch
(PSIG) or 1 Kg per square centimeters, and high temperature
water is generated at pressures exceeding 160 pounds per square
inch (PSIG) or 12.5 Kg per square centimeters and / or
temperatures exceeding 250 degrees F. (120 degrees C.)
2. B31.2 - 1968 - Fuel Gas Piping : This has been withdrawn as a
National Standard and replaced by ANSI/NFPA Z223.1, but
B31.2 is still available from ASME and is a good reference for the
design of gas piping systems (from the meter to the appliance).
3. B31.3 - 2002 - Process Piping : Design of chemical and petroleum
plants and refineries processing chemicals and hydrocarbons,

water and steam. This Code contains rules for piping typically
found in petroleum refineries; chemical, pharmaceutical, textile,
paper, semiconductor, and cryogenic plants; and related
processing plants and terminals.
This Code prescribes requirements for materials and components,
design, fabrication, assembly, erection, examination, inspection,
and testing of piping. This Code applies to piping for all fluids
including:
Raw, intermediate, and finished chemicals
Petroleum products
Gas, steam, air and water
Fluidized solids
Refrigerants
Cryogenic fluids
Also included is piping which interconnects pieces or stages
within a packaged equipment assembly.
The principal design codes used for piping design are the
ANSI/ASME B31.1(Code for Power Piping) and ANSI/ASME
B31.3 (Code for Process Piping). Complementing these codes are
ASME VIII (Code for Pressure Vessel) and British Standard
BS5500 for unfired fusion welded pressure vessel.
The basic consideration of B31.1 Code is safety. It includes:
a. Material and component standards
b. Designation of dimensional standards for elements of piping
system
c. Requirements for design of components, including supports
d. Requirements for evaluation and limitation of stresses,
reactions and movements associated with pressure, temperatures
and external forces
e. Requirements for fabrication, assembly and erection
f. Requirements for testing and inspection before and after
assembly.
Pipes: For pipes, the materials used in geothermal application are
normally A53-B, A106-B and API 5L-B pipe , with mill
tolerance. Commercial available pipes normally have a mill
tolerance of 12.5% and pipe schedule numbers based in B36.10.
Fittings: For elbows, tees, and reducers, the material used in
geothermal application is normally A234 WPB. All dimensions
are in accordance with B16.9. Flanges and valves rating Flanges
are rated to ANSI B16.5 standard, For those up to 24 diameter,

they are rated to ANSI 150, ANSI 300, ANSI 600 and ANSI 900.
For flanges of 26 and bigger , ANSI B16.47 applies. The flanges
are usually classified series A and series B. The material used for
these flanges are A181 grade I and A105 grade I. Valve rating is
similar to the flange rating selected for the pipe.
4. B31.4 - 2002 - Pipeline Transportation Systems for Liquid
Hydrocarbons and Other Liquids : This Code prescribes
requirements for the design, materials, construction, assembly,
inspection, and testing of piping transporting liquids such as crude
oil, condensate, natural gasoline, natural gas liquids, liquefied
petroleum gas, carbon dioxide, liquid alcohol, liquid anhydrous
ammonia and liquid petroleum products between producers' lease
facilities, tank farms, natural gas processing plants, refineries,
stations, ammonia plants, terminals (marine, rail and truck) and
other delivery and receiving points.
Piping consists of pipe, flanges, bolting, gaskets, valves, relief
devices, fittings and the pressure containing parts of other piping
components. It also includes hangers and supports, and other
equipment items necessary to prevent overstressing the pressure
containing parts. It does not include support structures such as
frames of buildings, buildings stanchions or foundations.
5. B31.5 - 2001 - Refrigeration Piping and Heat Transfer
Components : This Code prescribes requirements for the
materials, design, fabrication, assembly, erection, test, and
inspection of refrigerant, heat transfer components, and secondary
coolant piping for temperatures as low as -320 deg F (-196 deg
C), whether erected on the premises or factory assembled, except
as specifically excluded in the following paragraphs.
Users are advised that other piping Code Sections may provide
requirements for refrigeration piping in their respective
jurisdictions. This Code shall not apply to:
1. any self- contained or unit systems subject to the
requirements of Underwriters Laboratories or other
nationally recognized testing laboratory.
2. water piping
3. piping designed for external or internal gage pressure not
exceeding 15 psi (105 kPa) regardless of size
4. pressure vessels, compressors, or pumps, but does include
all connecting refrigerant and secondary coolant piping
starting at the first joint adjacent to such apparatus.

6. B31.8 - 2003 - Gas Transmission and Distribution Piping Systems


: This Code covers the design, fabrication, installation, inspection,
and testing of pipeline facilities used for the transportation of gas.
This Code also covers safety aspects of the operation and
maintenance of those facilities.
7. B31.8S-2001 - 2002 - Managing System Integrity of Gas
Pipelines : This Standard applies to on-shore pipeline systems
constructed with ferrous materials and that transport gas. Pipeline
system means all parts of physical facilities through which gas is
transported, including pipe, valves, appurtenances attached to
pipe, compressor units, metering stations, regulator stations,
delivery stations, holders and fabricated assemblies. The
principles and processes embodied in integrity management are
applicable to all pipeline systems. This Standard is specifically
designed to provide the operator (as defined in section 13) with
the information necessary to develop and implement an effective
integrity management program utilizing proven industry practices
and processes. The processes and approaches within this Standard
are applicable to the entire pipeline system.
8. B31.9 - 1996 - Building Services Piping : This Code Section has
rules for the piping in industrial, institutional, commercial and
public buildings, and multi-unit residences, which does not
require the range of sizes, pressures, and temperatures covered in
B31.1. This Code prescribes requirements for the design,
materials, fabrication, installation, inspection, examination and
testing of piping systems for building services. It includes piping
systems in the building or within the property limits.
9. B31.11 - 2002 - Slurry Transportation Piping Systems : Design,
construction, inspection, security requirements of slurry piping
systems. Covers piping systems that transport aqueous slurries of
no hazardous materials, such as coal, mineral ores and other solids
between a slurry processing plant and the receiving plant.
Of the above, the most commonly used code is ASME B 31.3. Refineries
and Chemical Plants are designed based on the same. All Power Plants
are designed as per ASME B31.1. Other major ANSI / ASME Standards
refereed for the piping elements are :
10. ANSI B 1.1 - Unified Inch Screw Threads
11. ANSI / ASME B 1.20.1 - Pipe threads for general purposes

12. ANSI / ASME B 16.1 - Cast Iron Pipe Flanges and Flanged
Fittings
13. ANSI / ASME B 16.3 - Malleable Iron Threaded Fittings
14. ANSI / ASME B 16.4 - Cast Iron Threaded Fittings
15. ANSI / ASME B 16.5 - Steel Pipe Flanges and Flanged Fittings
16. ANSI / ASME B 16.9 - Steel Butt Welding Fittings
17. ANSI / ASME B 16.10 - Face to Face and End to End dimensions
of Valves
18. ANSI / ASME B 16.11 - Forged Steel Socket Welding and
Threaded fittings
19. ANSI B 16.20 - Metallic Gaskets for Pipe Flanges - ring joint,
spiral wound
20. ANSI / ASME B 16.21 - Non Metallic Gaskets for Pipe Flanges
21. ANSI / ASME B 16.25 - Butt Welding Ends
22. ANSI / ASME B 16.28 - Short Radius Elbows and Returns
23. ANSI / ASME B 16.34 - Steel Valves, Flanged and butt welding
ends
24. ANSI / ASME B 16.42 - Ductile Iron Pipe Flanges and Flanged
Fittings - Class 150# and 300#
25. ANSI / ASME B 16.47 - Large Diameter Steel Flanges - NPS 26" to 60"
26. ANSI / ASME B 18.2 1 and 2 - Square and Hexagonal head Bolts
and Nuts (Inch and mm)
27. ANSI / ASME B 36.10 - Welded and Seamless Wrought Steel
Pipes
28. ANSI / ASME B 36.19 - Welded and Seamless Austinitic
Stainless Steel Pipe
American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) : These consist of 16
sections on definitions and classifications of materials of construction
and Test methods. Most of the ASTM Standards are adapted by ASME
and are specified in ASME Section II. The Section II has four parts.
Part A - Ferrous Materials
Part B - Non-Ferrous Materials
Part C - Welding Materials
Part D - Properties of Materials
In Section II, the materials are listed in the index based on the available
forms such as plates, castings, tubes etc., and also on the numerical
index.
The selection of ASTM Specification depends on the manufacturer, form
of material, its mechanical strength and corrosion properties.

The specification number is given an Alphabetical prefix "A" for ferrous


and "B" for non-ferrous materials.
ASTM also specifies standard practice for numbering metal and alloys as
Unified Numbering System.
Unified Numbering System (UNS) establishes 18 series numbers of
metals and alloys. Each UNS number consists of a single letter prefix
followed by 5 digits. In most cases the alphabet is suggestive of the
family of the metal identified.
A00001 - A99999 - Aluminum and Aluminum alloys
C00001 - C99999 - Copper and Copper Alloys
E00001 - E99999 - Rare earth and rare earth like metals and
alloys
L00001 - L99999 - Low Melting metals and alloys
M00001 - M99999 - Miscellaneous non-ferrous metals and alloys
N00001 - N99999 - Nickel and Nickel Alloys
P00001 - P99999 - Precious Metals and Alloys
R00001 - R99999 - Reactive and Refractory metals and alloys
Z00001 - Z99999 - Zinc and zinc alloys
D00001 - D99999 - Specified mechanical properties of Steel
F00001 - F99999 - Cast Iron and Cast Steel
G00001 - G99999 - AISI and ASE Carbon and alloy steels
H00001 - H99999 - AISI H Steels
J00001 - J99999 - Cast Steel
K00001 - K99999 - Miscellaneous Steels and Ferrous alloys
S00001 - S99999 - Stainless Steel
T00001 - T99999 - Tool Steel
W00001 - W99999 - Welding Filler Metals and Electrodes
American Welding Society (AWS) : These standards provide
information on the welding fundamentals, weld design, welder's training
qualifications, testing and inspection of the welds and guidance on the
application and use of welds. Individual electrode manufacturers have
given their own brand names for the various electrodes and the same are
sold under these names.
American Water Works Association (AWWA) : These standards refer to
the piping elements required for low pressure water services. These are
less stringent than other standards. Valves, Flanges etc., required for
large diameter water pipelines are covered under this standard and are
refereed rarely by piping engineers.
C-500 : Gate Valves for Water and sewage system
C-504 : Rubber Seated Butterfly Valves

C-507 : Ball Valves 6" to 48"


C-508 : Swing Check Valves 2" to 24"
C-509 : Resilient Seated Gate Valves for water and sewage
C-510 : Cast Iron Sluice Gate Valves
o The manufacturers Standardization Society of Valves and Fitting
Industry - Standard Practices (MSS-SP) : In addition to the above
standards and material codes, there are standard practices followed by
manufacturers. These are published as advisory standards and are widely
followed. The most common MSS-SP standards referred for piping are :
MSS-SP-6 : Standard Finishes for contact surface for flanges
MSS-SP-25 : Standard marking system for valves, fittings, flanges
MSS-SP-42 : Class 150 corrosion resistant gate, globe and check
valves
MSS-SP-43 : Wrought stainless steel butt weld fittings
MSS-SP-56 : Pipe hanger supports - Material, design and
manufacture
MSS-SP-61 : Pressure testing of valves
MSS-SP-67 : Butterfly Valves
MSS-SP-68 : High Pressure off seat butterfly valves
MSS-SP-69 : Pipe hanger supports - selection and applications
MSS-SP-70 : Cast iron gate valves
MSS-SP-71 : Cast iron check valves
MSS-SP-72 : Ball Valves
MSS-SP-78 : Cast iron plug valves
MSS-SP-80 : Bronze gate, globe and check valves
MSS-SP-81 : Stainless steel bonnet-less knife gate valves
MSS-SP-83 : Pipe unions
MSS-SP-85 : Cast iron globe valves
MSS-SP-88 : Diaphragm valves
MSS-SP-89 : Pipe hangers and supports - fabrication and
installation practices
MSS-SP-90 : Pipe hangers and supports - guidelines on
terminology
MSS-SP-92 : MSS valves user guide
MSS-SP-108 : Resilient seated eccentric CI plug valves
2. BRITISH STANDARDS : In many instances, it is possible to find a British
Standard which may be substitutes for American Standards. For example, BS
2080 (British Standard for Face to Face or End to End dimensions of valves) is
identical to ANSI/ASME B16.10. Similarly BS 3799 and ANSI/ASME B 16.11
also compare.
There are certain British Standards referred by Indian Manufacturers for Piping

and Valves. The most commonly referred British Standards in the Piping
Industry are :
o BS 10 : Flanges
o BS 806 : Pipes and Fittings for Boilers
o BS 916 : Black Bolts, Nuts and Screws
o BS 970 : Steel for Forging, Bars, Rods, valve steel, etc.
o BS 1212 : Specification for Float Operated Valves
o BS 1306 : Copper and Copper alloy pressure piping system
o BS 1414 : Gate Valves for Petroleum Industry
o BS 1560 : Steel Pipe Flanges
o BS 1600 : Dimensions of Steel Pipes
o BS 1640 : Butt Welding Fittings
o BS 1740 : Wrought Steel screwed pipe fittings
o BS 1868 : Steel Check Valves for Petroleum Industry
o BS 1873 : Steel Globe and Check Valves for Petroleum Industry
o BS 1965 : Butt welding pipe fittings
o BS 2080 : Face to Face / End to End dimensions of Valves
o BS 2598 : Glass Pipelines and Fittings
o BS 3059 : Boiler and Super-heater Tubes
o BS 3063 : Dimensions of Gaskets for Pipe Flanges
o BS 3381 : Metallic Spiral Wound Gaskets
o BS 3600 : Dimensions of Welded and Seamless Pipes and Tubes
o BS 3601 : C.S. Pipes and Tubes for pressure purposes at room
temperature
o BS 3602 : C.S. Pipes and Tubes for pressure purposes at high
temperature
o BS 3603 : C.S. and Alloy Steel Pipes and Tubes for pressure
purposes at low temperature
o BS 3604 : Alloy Steel Pipes and Tubes for high temperature
o BS 3605 : SS Pipes and Tubes for pressure purposes
o BS 3799 : Socket Weld / Screwed Fittings
o BS 3974 : Pipe hangers, Slides and Roller type supports
o BS 4346 : PVC pressure pipe - joints and fittings
o BS 4504 : Steel, Cast Iron and Copper alloy fittings
o BS 5150 : Cast Iron Wedge and Double Disc Gate Valves for
general purposes
o BS 5151 : Cast Iron Gate (parallel slide) Valves for general
purposes
o BS 5152 : Cast Iron Globe and Check Valves for general purposes
o BS 5153 : Cast Iron Check Valves for general purposes
o BS 5154 : Copper alloy Globe, Gate and Check Valves

BS 5155 : Cast Iron and Cast Steel Butterfly Valves for general
purposes
o BS 5156 : Diaphragm Valves for general purposes
o BS 5157 : Steel Gate (parallel slide) Valves for general purposes
o BS 5158 : Cast Iron and Cast Steel Plug Valves for general
purposes
o BS 5159 : Cast Iron and Cast Steel Ball Valves for general
purposes
o BS 5160 : Flanged Steel Globe and Check Valves for general
purposes
o BS 5163 : Flanged Cast Iron Wedge Gate Valves for general
purposes
o BS 5351 : Steel Ball Valves for Petroleum Industry
o BS 5352 : Steel Gate, Globe and Check Valves, smaller than 2"
NB
o BS 5353 : Specifications for Plug Valves
o BS 5391 : Specifications for ABS pressure pipes
o BS 5392 : Specifications for ABS fittings
o BS 5433 : Specifications for underground stop valves for water
services
o BS 5480 : Specifications for GRP pipes and fittings
o BS 6364 : Specifications for Valves for Cryogenic services
o BS 6755 : Testing of Valves
o BS 6759 : Safety Valves
3. INDIAN STANDARDS : Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) have so far not
developed an Indian Standard for the design of Piping Systems. Hence, ANSI
Standards ASME 31.1 and 31.3 are widely used for the design. These standards
also accept materials covered in other standards. Unlike American Standards,
Indian Standards cover dimensions and material specifications under the same
standard number. There are no groupings based on branch of engineering.
Some of the most commonly referred Indian Standards by Piping Engineers are
:
o IS 210 : Grey Iron Castings
o IS 226 : Structural Steel (superseded by IS 2062)
o IS 554 : Dimensions of Pipe Threads
o IS 778 : Specification for Copper Alloy Gate, Globe and Check Valves
o IS 780 : Specification for Sluice Valves - 50 NB to 300 NB
o IS 1239 (Part I and II) : Specification for Mild Steel tubes and fittings
o IS 1363 : Hexagonal Bolts, Screws and nuts - Grade C
o IS 1364 : Hexagonal Bolts, Screws and nuts - Grade A and B
o IS 1367 : Technical supply conditions for threaded steel fastners
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IS 1536 : Centrifugally Cast Iron Pipes


IS 1537 : Vertically Cast Iron Pipes
IS 1538 : Cast Iron Fittings
IS 1870 : Comparison of Indian and Overseas Standards
IS 1879 : Malleable Iron Pipe Fittings
IS 1978 : Line Pipe
IS 1979 : High Test Line Pipe
IS 2002 : Steel Plates
IS 2016 : Plain Washers
IS 2041 : Steel Plates for Pressure Vessels used at moderate and low
temperature
IS 2062 : Steel for general structural purposes
IS 2379 : Color Code for Identification of Pipelines
IS 2712 : Compressed Asbestos Fiber Jointing
IS 2825 : Code for Unfired Pressure Vessels
IS 2906 : Specification for Sluice Valves - 350 NB to 1200 NB
IS 3076 : Specification for LDPE Pipes
IS 3114 : Code of Practice for laying pipes
IS 3516 : Cast Iron flanges and flanged fittings for Petroleum Industry
IS 3589 : Seamless or ERW Pipes (150 NB to 2000 NB)
IS 4038 : Specifications for Foot Valves
IS 4179 : Sizes for pressure vessels and leading dimensions
IS 4853 : Radiographic Examination of Butt Weld Joints in pipes
IS 4864 to IS 4870 : Shell Flanges for vessels and equipments
IS 4984 : Specification for HDPE Pipes
IS 4985 : Specification for PVC Pipes
IS 5312 : Specification for Check Valves
IS 5572 : Classification of Hazardous area for Electrical Installation
IS 5822 : Code of practice for laying welded steel pipes
IS 6157 : Inspection and Testing of Valve
IS 6286 : Seamless and Welded pipes for Subzero temperatures
IS 6392 : Steel Pipe Flanges
IS 6630 : Seamless alloy steel pipes for high temperature service
IS 6913 : Stainless Steel tubes for food and beverage industry
IS 7181 : Horizontally cast iron pipes
IS 7240 : Code of Practice for Cold Insulation
IS 7413 : Code of Practice for Hot Insulation
IS 7719 : Metallic spiral wound gaskets
IS 7806 : Stainless Steel Castings
IS 7899 : Alloy Steel castings for pressure services
IS 8008 : Specification for molded HDPE Fittings

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IS 8360 : Specification for fabricated HDPE Fittings


IS 9890 : Ball Valves for general purposes
IS 10221 : Code of Practice for coating and wrapping of underground
MS pipelines
IS 10592 : Eye wash and safety showers
IS 10605 : Steel Globe Valves for Petroleum Industries
IS 10611 : Steel Gate Valves for Petroleum Industries
IS 10711 : Size of Drawing Sheets
IS 10805 : Foot Valves
IS 10989 : Cast / Forged Steel Check Valves for Petroleum Industry
IS 10990 : Technical drawings - Simplified representation of pipelines
IS 11790 : Code of Practice for preparation of Butt welding ends for
valves, flanges and fittings
IS 11791 : Diaphragm Valves for general purposes
IS 11792 : Steel Ball Valves for Petroleum Industry
IS 12709 : Specifications for GRP pipes
IS 13049 : Specifications for Diaphragm type float operated valves
IS 13095 : Butterfly Valves
IS 13257 : Ring type joint gasket and grooves for flanges

There are certain other international standards, which are also referred in Piping
Industry. These are DIN standards of Germany and JIS standards of Japan. DIN
standards are more popular and equivalent.
Periodic review of the standards by the committee are done and these are
revised to incorporate the modified features based on the research and feedback
from industry. It is, hence, necessary that the latest editions of the codes and
standards are referred for the design.

Understanding and maintaining an effective


lubrication system
08.04.2009 | DeBaecke, J., Philadelphia Gear Corp., King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
Follow these guidelines to improve gearing equipment life
Keywords:
For gearing equipment owners and operators, the ultimate goal is to achieve a return on their
investment; this is done by both maximizing the output, reliability and efficiency of their machinery, and
minimizing downtime and operating costs.

Continued reliability, successful operation and long life of power transmission equipment largely depend
upon the constant supply of lubrication oil of proper quantity, quality and condition. The lifeline of the
gearbox is its lubrication system, critical for supporting the drive under all modes of operation.
The purpose of a gearbox lubrication system is to provide an oil film at the contacting surfaces of all
working components to reduce friction and wear. In addition, the oil serves to remove and dissipate heat
from where it is generated, preventing gearing component temperatures from rising to excessive levels.
Other lubrication functions include the transfer and/or removal of wear particles, as well as the filtration
of rust and corrosion and any other undesirable contaminants.
However, failure of the lubrication system to perform any one or more of these functions may result in
premature equipment failure.
Understanding the role and importance of a lubrication system in the overall life of a gearbox serves as a
foundation for understanding the needs for maintaining such an effective system. And that is what this
article aims to doprovide maintenanceprofessionals with the tools to properly understand the
lubrication needs for extending overall life of their gearbox. This article examines the number of lubricant
types available, as well as the systems used to supply such lubricant throughout a gearbox. In addition,
proper maintenance functions are provided for sustaining a functional, effective lubrication system.
Understanding lubrication. Lubrication can be defined as the control of friction and wear between
adjacent surfaces by the development of a lubricant film between them, called an elastohydrodynamic
(EHD) oil film.
EHD film thickness between gear tooth surfaces is quite small, usually less than 1.25 micrometers
(0.00005 in.). Oil film thickness is significantif the adjacent surfaces are not fully separated, the EHD
film leaves local areas of contact between those surfaces, making them vulnerable to surface fatigue.
Viscosity is a characteristic of fluids to resist flowing freely. It is one of the most important characteristics
of a lubrication fluid. Lubricating oil viscosity changes appreciably with temperature, and is generally
stated at two temperatures: 40C (100F) and 100C (210F). Viscosity is usually expressed in terms of
the time required for a standard quantity of a fluid at a given temperature to flow through a standard
opening.
Fatigue life of contacting components of a gearbox, such as gear teeth and bearing rollers, is determined
by a complex combination of speed, load, lubricant temperature, clearance and alignment. The lubricant's
role in this interaction is determined primarily by speed, viscosity and temperature. The effect of these
factors on the fatigue life of elements can be dramatically altered at higher temperatures with lower
viscosity, and thinner resultant oil films. Selecting the correct lubricant for any application requires a
careful study of expected operational and environmental conditions.
Gear lubricants. Several factors must be considered before choosing a gear lubricantthe unit's
operating speed and load, temperature range and lubricant availability, to name a few. However, the most
important parameter in selecting a lubricant is viscosity. High-speed units produce an acceptable oil film
at the tooth contact area even with a low-viscosity oil; at lower operating speeds, a thinner oil film is
generated, requiring more viscous oils to separate contacting surfaces. Still, often a gearbox will contain

both high- and low-speed gear meshes. In these cases, a compromise must be obtained (though in such
cases, performance of these gear meshes may be reduced).
There are two basic types of lubricants used in gear drive systems: petroleum-based mineral oils and a
general category known as synthetic lubricants.
Petroleum-based lubricants. Petroleum-based mineral oils are complex mixtures derived
from refining crude oil. Petroleum products have been found to excel as lubricants in most applications.
Mineral oils are usually compounded with different chemical additives to improve specific properties such
as increased lubricant life, resistance to rust and oxidation and even increased load-carrying capacity.
High-load oils, called extreme-pressure (EP) gear lubricants, contain selected additives that increase the
load-carrying capacity of gearing by forming a film on the metal that provides component separation
under higher load conditions. EP lubricants are ideal for use when severe operating conditions are
anticipated. Often these lubricants will contain more than one chemical additive for load capacity
enhancement over a wide temperature range, most commonly compounds of phosphorous and sulfur.
However, EP gear lubricants should not be used in gear units containing an internal backstop or an
internal friction clutch unless the lubrication types used have been specifically approved by the gearbox
manufacturer.
Synthetic lubricants. Synthetic lubricants consist of base fluids manufactured by chemical synthesis or
molecular restructuring to meet specific physical and chemical qualities desired for certain operating
parameters, such as high-temperature thermal and oxidation stability, low-viscosity variation over a
broad temperature range, low-temperature capability and/or long service life.
Care must be taken when synthetic lubricants are substituted for previously utilized lubricants.
Compatibility with other gearbox components like rubber lip seals, rubber O-ring seals and housing paint
must be established. Synthetic lubricants can be up to four times more costly than petroleum-based oils,
and are thus generally reserved for problem applications such as extremely high or low temperatures,
equipment subjected to frequent overloads and equipment with a marginal lubrication system.
The largest class of today's synthetic lubricants is the estersmaterials containing the ester chemical
linkage. Esters have wide operating temperature ranges and high viscosity indicesthus permitting lowtemperature operation, as well as providing good lubrication characteristics at high temperatures. A
lubricant's viscosity index is a measure of how much that oil's viscosity varies with temperature.
Another class of synthetic lubricants is the synthesized hydrocarbonsthese lubricants contain many of
the advantages of esters (to a lesser extent), but have a similar structure to mineral oils, making them
compatible with mineral oils while not being detrimental to seals and paints (esters have low
compatibility with some polymeric materials such as those used in seals and paints).
Lubricant viscosity selection. In general, the lowest viscosity oil capable of forming an adequate oil
film at all operating conditions should be chosen. However, in practice, the lubricant chosen is often a
compromise between the requirements of the various lubricated componentssuch as gears and
bearingsand the particular application requirements such as large ambient temperature differentials.

Lubrication systems. There are two types of gearbox lubrication systems in use: splash lubrication
systems and force-feed lubrication systems. The intent of both types of systems are the same, to distribute
oil to each component of the gearbox sufficient for lubricating and cooling that component yet minimizing
heat generation by oil churning.
Splash lubrication. Splash lubrication systems require that the gearbox be filled to a predetermined
lubrication oil level. Rotating gear elements within the gearbox must dip into the oil and "sling" it into
troughs, pockets or directly to bearings and gear meshes requiring lubrication and cooling oil. Feed
troughs are employed to capture oil that is "slung" onto the upper gearbox housing wall by a dipping gear
element. This oil drips into the trough which, in turn, distributes that oil to the bearings. Such systems are
better suited for gearboxes containing rolling-element bearings than those with journal bearings, which
require far more oil.
A splash lubrication system requires at a minimum, oil troughs, bearing oil pockets, an oil fill location, an
oil drain and a breather. In cold ambient temperatures, an immersion heater should be provided in the
sump. Cold starting temperatures can cause oil viscosity to be too high to properly distribute oil upon
startup.
Splash lubrication systems are far simpler and less expensive than force feed, but are applicable only to
low-speed gear units. As shaft operational speeds increase, the heat generated in the gearbox becomes
excessive, requiring an external, force-feed system to supply larger volumes of lubricant to lubricate and
cool gearbox components. In addition, higher-speed units require oil to be precisely introduced at the gear
and bearing interfaces; this is accomplished through strategically placed jets to properly lubricate the gear
meshes and dedicated bearing oil supply lines.
Temperature control/thermal rating. The second primary function of the lubrication system is to
provide heat removal. Adequate cooling is necessary to maintain oil viscosity control and oil quality.
Conversely, for every gear drive there is a thermal rating; the average power that can be transmitted
continuously without overheating the unit and without using any special external cooling method. If the
thermal rating is less than the mechanical ratingthe load a gearbox can transmitadditional cooling
supplied by a force-feed lubrication system is required.
Auxiliary cooling can be used in combination with splash lubrication to increase the thermal rating of a
gearboxfor instance, air can be forced past the radiating surfaces of the gear casing by strategically
placed fans internal to the gearbox and located on a high-speed pinion shaft. In addition, the unit can be
cooled by a water jacket; water passages are built into the gear housing, usually at the high-speed end, and
heat is carried away by a cooling water flow that is isolated from the lubrication oil sump.
To operate a gear unit at maximum efficiency, auxiliary cooling schemes should include thermostatic
controls so that the oil is not cooled unnecessarily. Operating with too cool a lubricant increases churning
losses. Adding cooling fins to increase the surface area of the gearbox casing can increase the heat transfer
from the gear casing to the ambient air.
Force-feed lubrication. In a typical force-feed lubrication system, a shaft- or a motor-driven oil pump
draws oil from the gearbox sump through a suction pipe. The oil is directed from the pressure side of the
oil pump through a filter to cleanse the oil, and through a cooler employed to cool the oil. A pressure relief
valve is typically located before this filter to protect the system from too high an operating pressure. If the

filter becomes clogged, the relief valve will permit the unfiltered oil to bypass the filter so the gearbox will
continue to receive lubrication and cooling oil albeit unfiltered (unfiltered oil is better than no oil).
Another relief valve is often located at the inlet to the gearbox to limit the oil feed pressure if the system
contains both shaft- and motor-driven pumps, and both are running at the same time. A shaft-driven oil
pump is driven by one of the rotating gear shafts of the gearbox. Some lubrication systems will include
both motor- and shaft-driven oil pumps. The motor-driven pump can be activated prior to gearbox
startup to supply full oil flow requirement to the gearbox prior to shaft rotation until the attached lube oil
pump is running at a speed sufficient to supply full lubrication oil flow to the gearbox, during gearbox
coast-down or as a backup in case of failure of the main shaft-driven oil pump.
Check valves are located so that the main pump does not pump through the auxiliary system and that the
auxiliary pump does not pump into the pressure side of the main oil pump. A bypass is provided at the
cooler serving as both a pressure relief valve and/or a thermostatically controlled valve set so that the
pressure drop across the cooler is limited during times when the oil is cold; additionally, temperature and
pressure sensors are located at various critical points throughout the system.
Relatively little oil is required for lubrication using a force-feed system provided it is properly applied. The
bulk of the oil flow is required for cooling the gear tooth flanks and bearings. For demanding high-speed
applications, gear tooth meshes are sprayed on either in-mesh or out-mesh sides or, in some instances,
both sides.
System components. A typical force-feed lubrication system consists of the following major
components:
Pumps. The gearbox oil pump delivers a given quantity of oil over a wide range of oil temperatures and
viscosities. In addition, the gearbox pump must be capable of priming itself and overcoming pressure
drops in the line between the oil reservoir and the pump suction port.
The most common method of lubricant delivery is the positive-displacement lube-oil pumpthese pumps
deliver a given quantity of fluid with each pump rotor revolution. A positive-displacement pump's output
is directly proportional to its operating speed and offers practically constant oil flow at any particular
speed regardless of downstream conditions.
Gearbox lubrication pumps can be mounted to the unit and driven by one of the gearbox shafts, or
independently mounted with an electric motor or other prime mover driving. When the pump is shaft
driven, oil flow will vary directly with shaft speed. In a gear pump, as the gears rotate, fluid is trapped
between the gear teeth and the case, and is carried around the pump casing to the pump discharge oil
port.
Filtration. Gearbox lubrication systems are subject to contamination due to a variety of causesinternal
component wear generates particles washed into the oil stream; foreign particles find their way into the
system during assembly, maintenance and everyday operation. These contaminants, if uncontrolled, will
cause wear and even failure of bearings or gear elements.
Lubricant cleanliness is a major concern when looking to maximize geared equipment service life. The
lubrication filters play a key role in ensuring that abrasive particles are removed from the system.

In addition to the filtration of fluids, the lubrication filters often incorporate a bypass for clogged element
conditions, a magnetic drain plug to collect metallic particles and a visual and/or electrical cleanliness
indicator.
In force-feed lubrication systems, the oil must be supplied through a filter media that is compatible with
the lubricant, meets the viscosity requirements without excessive pressure drop and removes particulate
matter consistent with the rotating equipment design.
The oil filter should be located on the pressure side of the pump so warmer, less viscous oil is being
filtered. Filter elements can be either cleanable and reusable or disposable. Cleanable filter elements are
usually made of wire mesh, with cleaning commonly accomplished using an ultrasonic liquid bath.
Coolers. In force-feed lubrication systems, the oil inlet temperature to the gearbox is controlled by
passing hot sump oil through a cooler. Such a cooler must be capable of achieving the required oil
temperature drop when exposed to the maximum ambient air temperature anticipated for the application.
However, a generous temperature margin should be applied during design to account for cooler
deterioration.
The two types of coolers used are liquid-to-liquid and liquid-to-air. In oil-to-water (liquid-to-liquid)
coolers, hot oil gives up heat to cooler water, resulting in cooler oil and hotter water. Where water is
unavailable, radiators are used to blow cooling air over oil tubes. However, air-to-oil (air-to-liquid)
coolers require larger envelopes than oil-to-water coolers; in addition, hot days will limit the amount of
cooling a radiator can achieve.
Oil reservoir. The oil reservoir may be integral with the gearbox or separately mounted and connected
to the gearbox by piping. The oil level in the reservoir will vary from a maximum when the unit is
shutdown and oil has drained from lines and components to the minimum permitted during operation.
At shutdown, when lines and components such as coolers and filters drain back into the reservoir, the oil
level will be higher than the maximum operating level; thus, the reservoir tank must have sufficient
volume to accommodate the drain backflow and still retain some air space at the top. To ensure complete
draining for cleaning and oil changes, the unit should be fitted with a drain connection located at or near
the bottom of the sump. The oil pump suction line should be located slightly above this reservoir bottom
so that any sediment on the bottom is not pulled into the pump suction line.
Oil return lines should be piped into the reservoir near the maximum operating level away from the area
around the pump suction connection so that the incoming oil must travel the maximum distance to the
pump suction. By maximizing this dwell time, the oil has more time to lose any entrained air before it is
again circulated through pumps, filters and coolers. To facilitate reservoir inspection and cleaning,
sufficiently large access openings must be provided.
Breather. The gearbox breather is used to vent pressure that may be built up in the gearing unitsuch
pressure may result from air entering the lubrication system through seals or the natural heating and
cooling of the unit. When a cold gearbox starts up, the heat generated during operation will cause air
pressure to build within the gearbox housing.

Piping. The lubrication system piping is intended to distribute lubrication oil in accordance with system
design requirements and should be as simple and direct as practical. The piping connections for a gearbox
can cause problems at assembly and startup since often the responsibility for supplying piping and
lubrication system components is split between the gear manufacturer and user. If this is the case, care
must be taken to avoid piping complications at installation.
It is good practice to have only one external oil feed connection with all other oil passages placed inside
the system casingthis means that any slight leaks in the piping connections will be internal and
harmless. This also means there will be less chance of damage during installation. In all, the piping
arrangement must be carefully designed to minimize pressure drops and leak sources.
Lubrication monitoring. In providing reliable service, the lubrication system must incorporate
sufficient sensors to allow continuous and complete system condition monitoring.
Resistance temperature detectors (RTDs). RTDs allow continuous temperature monitoring at key
locations, such as oil supply and drain temperatures, as well as sump temperature. RTDs should be of the
duplex type to obtain redundant readings for accuracy or to supply a backup.
Temperature switches. Temperature switches are typically used as a trigger to alarm or shut down the
gearbox prime mover when excessive temperatures are experienced, and can be permissives for cold
temperature startup. These switches are typically located in the main oil reservoir and lube-oil supply
lines.
Pressure switches. Pressure switches are used as a mechanism to trigger the operation of auxiliary
back-up pumps, as well as to initiate a signal for system shutdown when pressure is lost at the main oil
inlet to the gearbox.
Flow switches. Flow switches are used as a trigger to signal loss of flow below the minimum oil demand
requirements of the system.
Water detectors. Water detectors act as a means to detect the presence of unwanted water in the
lubrication oil system.
Lubrication system maintenance. Given the integral role that the lubrication system plays in overall
gearbox life and longevity, it must be continually maintained so that the system is functioning at peak
performance. It is important to develop a systemic inspection method, condition verification and
documentation to avoid any unexpected lubrication system failures, and ultimately equipment damage.
The following are areas of concern for maintaining a properly functioning lubrication system.
Cleanliness. Dust, dirt, grit and wear particles in the lubricant supply must be kept to a minimum.
Filters and strainers should be serviced regularly to avoid circulating contaminants within the oil, as well
as to avoid excessive pressure drops that can reduce the quantity of oil supplied to the gear drive.
Lubricant condition. The service life of a lubricant is negatively affected by a number of factors,
including high temperatures, water and/or emulsions, solid contaminants and operating environment. An
oil sample should be drawn from the oil sump at scheduled intervals and analyzed by the lubricant

supplier or a reputable maintenance provider. The lubricant supplier should be consulted for typical oil
changeout limits for the particular oil used.
Sensor/switch settings. An annual check of all switches and sensors should be performed to verify
operation as per lubrication system schematic specified settings. System vibration and environmental
conditions can alter settings, ultimately affecting critical timing and initiation of sensor functions.
Auxiliary pump function. Pumps and other motorized accessories should be checked at scheduled
intervals to verify operability, proper oil delivery, pressures and motor power draw. Relief valve settings
should be checked to ensure that the required oil delivery is supplied to the gear drive at the proper
pressure.
Flow and pressure check. Flows and pressure drops at the cooler, filters and inlet to the rotating
equipment should be routinely monitored and recorded to identify any adverse trends that might be
developing.
Cooler condition. An annual check of cooler condition is important to maintain cooler efficiency.
Water-cooled heat exchanger coolant ports should be checked for any fouling or blockage. All sacrificial
anodes should be replaced. Air-oil cooler core fins should be checked and cleaned of any dirt buildup that
would affect heat transfer efficiency.
Breathers. Oil breathers should be checked frequently since they will become dirty. Any blockage in the
breather could potentially lead to leakage elsewhere in the drive to relieve pressure.
Visual component check. The entire lubrication system should be checked daily for all indicator gauge
readings, pipe connections, vibration, bolted connections, oil leaks or seepage, loose accessories and
wiring connections.
Sound levels. The operating sound level of the pumps should be routinely noted. Any increase in sound
level could indicate the presence of air in the lube system, blockage at the pump intake, air leaks in the
pump shaft seal, worn or loose parts in the pump, filter blockage or high oil viscosity from the pumped
fluid being too cold.
Greased points. Some motors and pumps are equipped with greased bearings that must be lubricated at
manufacturer recommended intervals. HP