Global Processing

How to know which lubricant is right for your application

February 6, 2006

A frequently cited study from M.I.T. estimates that 6 to 7 percent of America’s Gross National Product—about $240 billion—is spent repairing factory machinery damaged from wear caused by poor lubrication. It’s a figure that is both astounding and completely understandable. Given the enormous number of lubrication solutions available to plant engineers, the job of choosing the right lubricant can be daunting.

To ensure you have the right lubricant for your application, it is often best to consult a well-qualified lubrication supplier, whose expertise helps maintenance professionals avoid mistakes in lubricant selection and application that can shorten equipment life and stop production. A supplier should be keen to ensure you are treating your lubrication process in the most efficient way. This allows both lubricant supplier and customer to reap the benefits of high performance lubricant products.

For example, high temperatures in air compressors accelerate reactions between compressed oxygen and impurities, resulting in rapid oxidation and a sudden increase in viscosity and lubricant failure. Mineral oils in air compressors generally last only 1,000 hours. By comparison, a synthetic compressor oil specially formulated for air compressors can last approximately 12 times as long. The knowledgeable consolidated lubricant supplier understands such applications.

The suppliers best equipped to meet requirements for diverse lubricating solutions offer a complete line of industrial lubricants, not just a “wide range” of products. Fluids for high-volume applications include hydraulic, compressor and vacuum pump, gearbox and chain, and multipurpose oils. Specialized industrial compounds such as greases, pastes, anti-friction coatings, and dispersions must be added to the mix. In addition, a wide range of base stocks is essential. Synthetics provide excellent resistance to emulsification and last longer to extend maintenance intervals. Ultra-high purity mineral oils also resist emulsification and promote improved additive performance, which results in longer life than conventional mineral oils. The full-line supplier must also be able to draw on functional additive technologies including anti-oxidant, anti-wear, and extreme temperature additives.

In a complex manufacturing operation, selecting the wrong lubricant can compromise productivity and profitability. Working with a lubricant expert can help manage and enhance a key maintenance function by cutting costs and extending the lives of equipment.