The right set of lubrication processes, products, and systems makes a great difference in an asset’s reliability and useful life. Whether addressing obvious needs or acting on lube program audit recommendations, upgrading oil and grease practices pays off in increased operational efficiency and reduced maintenance and replacement costs. Ongoing innovations are yielding new opportunities to improve the way lubes are chosen, cleaned, monitored, stored, and applied.
Innovative lubricant management
Application-specific products resolve unique challenges. For instance, final drives and axles in mining operations are subjected to high loading and high temperatures and require a more robust formulation than a conventional TO-4 fluid to avoid downtime, observes Keith Shaw, global OEM manager, on/off highway, at Chevron Lubricants.
The company’s new Delo TorqForce Syn FD-1, a high-performance, fully synthetic lubricant designed for mining equipment, was formulated with this in mind. “Chevron’s synthetic formulation enables a much greater temperature operating window and extended oil drain intervals out to 6,000 hours,” says Shaw. “It provides for increased equipment availability and production opportunity with improved durability and extended drain intervals.”
Keeping lubrication oil continuously clean and indefinitely usable is the goal of SKF’s patented Double Separation Technology (DST). RecondOil Box, a compact version of SKF’s industrial DST systems, is an enhanced depth filtration system that extends oil change intervals and improves reliability, sustainability, and machine performance. It is suitable for a broad range of industries and applications.
“While conventional filters typically only remove particles in the micron range, RecondOil Box can remove particles down to nano-size from oils. It acts as a mechanical ‘kidney’ in a machine’s oil circulation system,” explains Sassan Hojabr, RecondOil technical manager for North America at SKF. It also removes free, emulsified, and bound water, and prevents premature oil degradation by removing oxidation products and soluble and insoluble varnish.
Using remote labs for oil analysis causes undue delays and downtime. The MiniLab, MicroLab, and new FieldLab fluid analysis systems from AMETEK Spectro Scientific bring lab-quality oil analysis to the equipment. The patented dual dynamic filtration systems leverage filtration particle quantification (FPQ) and x-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis to identify changing wear rates and isolate potential root causes of problems in lube systems.
The trio of test solutions deliver comprehensive analysis of machine fluid parameters on-site and in the field, says Randi Price, product manager for Spectro products at AMETEK Spectro Scientific. “Designed for the non-expert user, these solutions enable our customers to quickly assess machine and lubricant condition and make effective maintenance decisions,” she adds.
Properly outfitted lubrication rooms optimize oil storage, handling, and filtration. Portable lube storage rooms from Reliable Process Solutions provide a customized, turnkey solution for plants lacking the space, time, or expertise to assemble one themselves. Available self-contained oil storage and filtration solutions and wheeled oil filter carts further facilitate lubrication best practices.
“Dirty or wet lubes can reduce your equipment component life by 50 percent. Our solutions to lubrication storage provide a self-contained room with ambient, spill, and safety controls built in. It is truly plug and play,” says Terry Harris, president of Reliable Process Solutions.
Optimized lubrication systems
ReliaMAX automatic lubrication systems from Lubrication Technologies are developed by experienced designers and installers, familiar with both automatic systems and lubricants, to deliver reliable performance and maximum value. ReliaMAX systems encompass every type of lubrication system design, from volumetric and resistive to single line parallel, series progressive, dual line, and MQL.
“As a distributor, we have first-hand experience with poorly designed systems from companies that did not support their products and gave lip service to distributor protection and warranty,” says David Piangerelli, president of Lubrication Technologies. “Our holistic approach coupled with industry knowledge allows us to select the appropriate solution for a specific application.”
Designing and building custom lubrication systems is one of the value-added services offered by Mi Fluid Power Solutions (Mi FPS), a Motion Industries business brand. Years of field experience and a strong vendor support system are leveraged to understand customer problems and provide “rocket science” solutions, such as fully optimized, application-specific centralized lubrication systems, says Denis Balogh, business development manager for lubrication and fluid power at Mi FPS.
Balogh explains that proper lubrication is vital to equipment life, even for sophisticated life-support equipment such as the International Space Station, adding: “NASA quickly developed a unique and innovative method to lubricate the space station solar wing while in space—a life-sustaining need. Now I call that rocket science!”