Wood Business

Features Equipment Sawmilling
Lubrication innovation

Saw guide lube system

May 28, 2024  By Brad Farynuk

Photo: Annex Business Media.

Early in the development of the ProSaw profiler/curve sawing gang product line, Real Performance Machinery (RPM) recognized the many shortcomings of the existing saw guide lube systems. Hence, the IdealLube saw guide lube system was developed.

As with many plumbing systems, varying water pressures result in unpredictable amounts of water being delivered to the saw guides. Water quality was often known to be poor, often leading to hardwater scaling and clogged manifolds and piping. Significant variations in air pressure were also resulting in inadequate saw lubrication and was often challenging to diagnose. Most existing saw guide lube systems were primarily manually controlled and lacked suitable feedback devices to monitor performance and make quantifiable adjustments.

RPM’s engineers made advancements to address the water pressure variations. First, a large water tank was designed to store water and serve as the backbone on which all other IdealLube devices are mounted. The tank includes an inlet water flow and tank level sensors, and a float switch to ensure water level is appropriately maintained. Should there be a malfunction with the float switch, a top-mounted breather tube is included to provide a safe path for overflow water to be removed. Second, and a key design feature, is the use of servo motor controlled fixed-displacement pumps to deliver reliable and infinitely variable water-oil-air mixture flow to each of the saw lube zones. To ensure the water utilized by the system is suitably pure, a high-capacity filter is mounted on the inlet side of the water tank. The tank is designed to be large enough that should any contaminants enter, they can settle to the bottom. The water outlet is placed high enough to avoid any potential sediment. Large 3-inch cleanout holes are installed in the vee-shaped bottom of the tank to allow periodic inspection and cleanout. A water flow sensor is installed to monitor water consumption ensuring it remains within the expected range.

Standard mill air is delivered to the system through a state-of-the-art proportional flow/pressure regulator. Dynamic and configurable air pressure control provides optimal saw cooling and lubrication. An air flow sensor measures the instantaneous flow rate of mill air into the system. Abnormal air flow readings picked up by this sensor can indicate a blocked or plugged lube line. 


The system provides an easy tie-in point for the pressurized oil supply. An easily replaceable oil filter protects the system from possible oil contamination.  Saw lube oil is metered to the individual lube zones through an oil divider block. The control system energizes the coil and monitors the divider block’s cycle input to control the amount of oil delivered to the saw guides. The water, oil and air are combined in a stacked manifold assembly, which includes water and air headers to feed each lube zone. Oil is injected into the water through the injection port and fed into the pump to get thoroughly mixed and pressurized. The pressurized water/oil mixture is mixed with pressurized air at the output of the manifold. From there the saw lube mixtures are transported to the saws in each of the saw lube zones.

The system is provided with a dedicated mini-controller for all the valves and servo motors. It readily communicates with the existing machine center’s supervisory PLC via ethernet. Customer-designed user interface screens allow mill personnel to monitor and control the system. These screens can be either integrated into the Human Machine Interface or provided as a stand-alone system. Either configuration allows the system to be monitored and adjusted locally or remotely. With its controller-centric design, the system is continuously monitoring performance and generating alarm messages when appropriate. Parameter setpoints can also readily be adjusted, recorded and recalled as needed.

Brad Farynuk has served as operations manager for Real Performance Machinery since retiring from professional hockey in 2013.

This article is part of CFI’s 2024 File Week. Find the File Week landing page here.

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