There are three significant types of lubricant products - standard performance, high performance, and specialty performance lubricants. As the name suggests, standard-performance oils are usually purchased in bulk and perform a minimum function required for efficient operation. Almost 80 percent of mechanical parts can be effectively lubricated with these products.
High-performance lubricants are produced with specific raw materials that offer increased performance capabilities such as higher wear resistance, load-supporting features, and extended lifecycle performance to the finished product. Almost 20 percent of plant applications or machines can be well-served with these products.
Specialty-performance lubricants are only used for extraordinary service. Some notable uses of these products include lubricated parts used in the vacuum of space, radioactive environment, or pumping corrosive fluids or compressing oxygen. Only 1 to 2 percent of plant applications or tools can be well-served with specialty lubricants.
Optimizing Lubricant Selection Decisions
You can choose oils from each of the lubricants mentioned above for a range of component classes. These may include open and enclosed gears, plain linear, element bearings, compressors, screws, chains, hydraulic systems, and static and dynamic pumps. Irrespective of the part interaction, many brands only produce standard and high-performance lubricants, while a few industrial lubricant suppliers also design, make, and offer specialty products.
You may ask; is there any considerable performance differences between the low-end lubricants purchased by making price-conscious decisions, and the high-end products purchased through quality-conscious decision making? The answer is yes, and the performance differences between each of these classes are measurable.
Some of the expected performance differences include:
- Thicker oil at higher operating temperatures (± 200°F)
- Thinner oil at lower operating temperatures (± -20°F)
- Improved moisture separation that increases surface protection as well as enhances lifecycles
- Decreased hard carbon deposit formation on non-contact surfaces
- Improved aging/oxidation resistance that encourages extended oil lifecycles
- An enhanced load-bearing capacity that enables reduced component wear
Apart from that, is there any substantial justification for choosing the higher-priced products compared to generic lubricants? Yes, but only in case of a successful result achieved from a fair business value analysis, including reliability and efficiency improvements for both maintenance and production interests.
Some of the maintenance-related criteria to consider include:
- A differential in the total lubricant material cost annually
- A differential in the annual relubrication labor cost
- A differential in lubricated machine parts annual replacements over a multiyear baseline
- A differential in annual parts replacement through collateral damage resulting from different events, usually measured over a multiyear baseline
- A differential in annual labor to change parts during a given time period
- A differential in rates of apparent wears as per proper oil analysis
Some of the production-related criteria to consider include:
- A differential in the loss of production opportunity annually
- A differential in both scheduled and unscheduled downtimes meant for a variety of mechanical repairs
- A differential in energy consumption annually
- A differential in scrap production units or hours annually
After determining the current-condition cost factors, your reliability engineer can devise an improvement plan based on agreeable measurements and experience. In a real sense, a minute amount of improvement in mechanical, operational conditions can result in creating significant new value to your firm, especially if your plant is in a sold-out condition.
Selecting high-yielding lubricants may reduce your costs significantly. It would help to base your decision on selecting a high-performance or specialty product on an effect derived directly from a properly engineered change, with the expected outcomes quantified into often accepted financial terms.