Lubricant selection based purely on experience and knowledge is no longer a viable approach as equipment has become faster, operating for longer and under more extreme temperatures.
Where suitable lubricants are not used this can result in pump failures and increase filtration costs, a costly lesson to avoid.
Lubricant selection survey
The importance of choosing the best lubricant is underlined by a survey, conducted by ExxonMobil in partnership with Plastics News Europe, which revealed that 44% of respondents had suffered equipment failure due to poor lubricant performance. Another 26% reported time-consuming lubricant leaks.
According to Mohamed Mourad, ExxonMobil’s industrial marketing advisor, EAME, the survey also revealed that choosing inappropriate oils can actually damage productivity. Whereas, the survey also underlined that appropriate lubricant selection can improve equipment performance, realise significant cost savings through reduced energy consumption. [Global economy to transition to avert catastrophic climate change]
“In a hydraulic system, such as on an injection moulding machine, a lubricant is generally exposed to compression and shear stresses,” said Mourad.
He stressed: “This can trigger its molecular breakdown, which reduces its lubricating performance and component protection. This means equipment ends up working harder, increasing energy consumption. In order to help avoid this, it is important to use a lubricant with high shear stability and a high viscosity index.”
It is also essential to guard against lubricant oxidation as this can result in corrosion, a build-up of damaging lacquer and an increase in viscosity, he added. “Lubricants can additionally become contaminated with process materials, water, dust and wear debris. This can trigger pump failures and increase filtration costs.”
Solution to equipment failure
To combat all these issues plastics processors, need to choose lubricants that are easy to filter and that protect against oxidation-related problems.
“Clearly, improper lubrication can damage productivity,” said Mourad. “However, choosing the best possible lubrication isn’t the end of the process – it is important to know how those lubricant choices are performing as this can provide valuable maintenance diagnostics and crucial operational insights.”
Selection results in energy efficiency
Even when using the most appropriate lubricants it is still important to analyse their performance in order to help maintain processing equipment at its optimal operation. “By assessing the health of a lubricant it’s possible to detect developing issues before they become a problem and maintain peak productivity,” explained Mourad.
Energy efficiency relates solely to fluid performance when compared with conventional reference oils of the same viscosity grade in hydraulic applications. The technology used is able to achieve up to 6% efficiency compared with the reference when tested in a hydraulic system under controlled conditions.
Note that efficiency improvements vary based on operating conditions and application.
Featured image: ESI Africa library. 123rf