Automatic grease jockey smooths the way for uptime

ATLANTA, GA – Dan Jensen admits that talking grease isn’t sexy.

The global product marketing manager for Graco was at the North American Commercial Vehicle Show to promote the latest in the company’s line of automatic lubrication pumps, and said that the crowds he often speaks to at trade shows are small, because grease just isn’t as fun a topic as shiny new trucks or tires.

In the end though, grease is what makes everything go.

There are more than 81 lube points on a snowplow, and each one of those needs to be hit before and after every time it faces winter weather to distribute a mix of salt of brine – something the folks at Minnesota-based Graco know all too well.

Those 81 lube points increase on a tractor-trailer hauling goods through the same mixture of snow, ice, and metal-destroying chemicals lining winter roads.

Ensuring more uptime has come to mean big bucks, and the lubrication business is no different.

Maintenance downtime for trucks now averages three days, according to Volvo. Jensen says eight of those 72 hours alone can be spent waiting for the inspection of lube points and the application of grease.

Weighing less than 20 pounds and holding up to five pounds of grease at a time, Graco’s new electric grease jockey can be ordered as an option on a new truck from an original equipment manufacturer, and will attach right to the frame rail.

Although the grease is automatically metered and dispensed, there are controls mounted inside the driver door, making the system easy to operate, says Jensen. The door panel also alerts the driver should there be a problem with the system, or if the tank needs refilling. Jensen says the average unit only needs to be refilled about once every five months, with the average truck going through about a US gallon of grease in a year.

Cables attach to every lube point except those on the drive axles. Even with those points still requiring manual lubrication, Jensen says the electric grease jockey can reduce a 45-minute walkaround to just five minutes, maximizing uptime.

Jensen claims that time has significant value for fleets, saying the average grease jockey shows a return on investment in just 12 months.

The equipment can be installed by a mechanic trained on the device in just six hours, and will last for the lifetime of the truck, or about 10 years.

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