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Construction : Special Focus | June 2016 | Source : Equipment India

Lubricants: Smooth Sailing Ahead

With the government moving fast to meet the latest emission norms and OEMs making further improvement in design, the lubricants industry is set to witness a major revolution in product innovation.

As per the common definition, ¨A lubricant is a substance introduced to reduce friction between surfaces in mutual contact, which ultimately reduces the heat generated when the surfaces move.¨ With the help of additives, lubricants may also perform the function of transmitting forces, transporting foreign particles, or heating or cooling surfaces.

The concept is changing day-by-day and year-after-year. With the change in designs of various equipment, varying climate conditions and the regular upgradation of emission norms, lubricants have undergone a drastic change in formulation and functional parameters. Last but not the least, the thrust on reduced emission, reduced fuel consumption, increased power output, extended equipment life, extended service intervals and overall increase in productivity, has made lubricant experts busy in their jobs to meet the demanding expectations from the user industry.

Current trends
The trends in the lubricant industry are directly linked to the requirements and demands from OEMs. As far as mining, construction and material handling equipment OEMs are concerned, they are now in the process of designing their equipment to get more performance output at the lowest energy consumption. This is where lubricants can play a vital role.

Akhil Jha, Vice President Technical, Shell Lubricants India, says ¨Shell sees the key five drivers in the HDDEO market. These drivers are influenced by hardware changes and new technology from the OEMs as well as legislative pressures regarding environmental concerns.¨

According to Sanjay Khemka, Director, Pensol Industries Ltd, the objective of a lubricant is to give more performance output with better reliability of equipment. He says, ¨Mining, construction and material handling equipment manufacturers tend to design their equipment in such a manner that more performance output with lower energy consumption is achieved, with a focus on energy saving. In the current scenario, the size of the equipment is reduced, but with the same output as given earlier. The lubrication system has also changed with equipment design; OEMs have also focused on designing compact equipment, giving better performance output and handling capacity. This results in more pressure on the lubricant in terms of oil thickness maintained at elevated temperature, reduced residence time, increased speed, load and temperature with more chance of contamination from outside. Oil has to perform well under the high speed, high temperature with load, sometime shock load. The lubricant has to give better oil film to reduce wear, protect equipment from corrosion and rusting, dissipate the heat and keep the system clean in harsh conditions.¨

Oil additives play a major role in improving the lubricant character support sustainability in extreme environmental conditions. Says Carlos Vernet, Marketing Manager, DYNAVIS®- Asia Pacific, Evonik Industries AG, ¨In terms of hydraulic equipment trends, we see that hydraulic fluid (HF) systems are working harder than ever: at higher operating pressures (5,000-6,500 psi/345-450 bar); and given that equipment is now designed to be smaller and lighter, the fluid spends less time in the reservoir, and as a consequence, there is less time for the fluid to cool down and eliminate entrained air. Furthermore, new environmental and safety regulations require equipment noise reduction. When encapsulation is utilised as the solution for noise reduction, the encapsulation slows fluid cooling. As a result, equipment is operating at higher temperatures (80°C-100°C), which has a direct and dramatic impact on hydraulic fluid viscosity performance.¨

Selection Procedure
Using the right lubricants can significantly reduce costs by cutting unplanned equipment downtime, thereby lowering maintenance costs and increasing equipment life and availability. The selection of the right lubricant will always depend on the equipment which is going to use it and the environmental conditions. According to Khemka, the first and foremost thing is to check for any OEM recommendation. Jha elaborates this point further, ¨The selection criteria start with the OEM specification for the particular lube recommendation. The OEM specs combined with operational challenges at a particular region will help in identifying the suitable lubricant. Other selection criterions are higher efficiency, higher equipment life, and energy consumption and disposal requirements.¨

Shell Lubricants offers a wide range of products and services designed to reduce the process and equipment ownership costs by reducing unplanned equipment downtime, extending oil and equipment life and lowering maintenance costs.

¨We usually recommend following the OEMs´ specs, as they know better than anyone else as to what is required for their equipment. That said, we equally recommend that end-users consider their own specific operating conditions, as they might vary from customer to customer. The more demanding the operating conditions, the more stressed the hydraulic system and its fluid will be. Under such operating conditions, more robust lubricant technologies, offering a higher Viscosity Index as well as higher shear stability - like our DYNAVIS® Technology - are highly recommended,¨ says Vernet.

According to Jha, applications like mining, construction and material handling are completely different in nature of operations and loading requirements, even though there is similarity in many of the components involved, despite the different sizes. He elaborates, ¨Mining equipment are running almost throughout the year in two to three shifts per day with average running hours of 6,000 hours per year compared to 3,000 hours for construction equipment and material handling equipment. Even the operating temperature, duty cycle and machine maintenance practices are different from site to site and OEM to OEM. By considering the operation hours throughout the year, mining fleets have to be more reliable and even small downtime can affect the end-customer profitability to a large extend. Equipment sump size, life and operation temperature and loading cycles are entirely different for these three off-highway sectors.¨

Highlighting the application difference in mining, construction and material handling equipment from other industry equipment, Khemka focuses on the Viscosity Index of the lubricant used. He says, ¨Mining, construction, and material handling applications are different from other industrial applications based on the speed, temperature, load, surrounding conditions, etc. Due to increase in load, the oil film should be able to sustain high load, hence high viscosity oil is desired. At high speed, the oil should have low viscosity to reduce the shear force and should also be able to form the required film all over the machine components. At slow speed it is vice-versa, i.e., there is a requirement for higher viscosity oil. Since the temperature is very high, oil with high Viscosity Index should be used, to maintain the required film thickness across the components. In dusty conditions, the oil used should be of high viscosity, to be compatible with the seal. In operating conditions, ideally, it should always be a mix of all the above parameters, since the surrounding temperature is very high along with moderate speed and high load. Hence the lubricant to be used should be able to withstand all the above parameters.¨

Vernet elaborates, ¨As already noted, in addition to the OEM´s specs, the working environment and the demands that will be placed on the hydraulic system dictate lubricant features that deserve consideration. For example, the more difficult the digging conditions are, the higher the HF operating temperatures. This means that the equipment will require a higher standard of lubricant performance. Hydraulic fluids formulated to DYNAVIS® Technology standards provide a Viscosity Index as well as higher shear stability, retaining an optimal level of efficiency at higher temperatures.¨

Meeting demands
With emission norms getting updated, there is a growing challenge for lubricants to meet the emerging demands from OEMs. Says Jha, ¨There is a growing concern globally on emissions. Emission norms are one of the major external causes for technological changes and new emerging technology coming into the market. Stronger emission norms and demand for fuel efficiency are driving OEMs to keep developing new engine technology at a faster pace. India has also become an export hub for many global players who are demanding higher specification engines and engine oils to meet those specifications. These changing needs put a lot of stress on lubricants and many conventional technology lubricants fail to meet these standards. As the industry faces the challenges of lowering cost of production, stringent emission and environmental norms, we expect a more rapid adoption of leading-edge lubricants that provide energy-efficiency benefits and lower the total cost of ownership.¨ According to him, different changes in the vehicle system should go hand-in-hand in working towards reducing CO2 emissions; hence, a co-engineering approach with both lubricants and hardware change will help together as a comprehensive approach towards reduction in CO2 emissions. ¨It is expected that these factors will result in demand for higher quality lubricants, leading the industry towards wider acceptance of synthetic lubricants,¨ Jha observes.

According to Khemka, emission norms are geared towards reducing the NOx, SO2 and particulate matter. ¨The integration of more additives will serve the triple purpose of reducing carbon emissions, lowering operating costs and reducing fossil fuel consumption. Introduction of innovative additive technology will help to achieve greater fuel economy and reduce the emission with the help of EGR and DPF systems,¨ he adds.

Says Vernet, ¨Specialists in Evonik Oil are working proactively with our customers and OEMs to understand their individual needs and overall expectations for their lubricants. Our people are experts in delivering customised technical service and they work with the support of a highly proficient innovation team capable of offering a variety of solutions to lubricant marketers as well as OEMs. In addition, our technologies and products are designed to increase fuel and energy efficiency, contributing to the reduction of CO2 emissions.¨

New products and solutions
Major lubricant companies have come out with new products that conform to the latest emission standards and meet the demands from OEMs. A few developments are on the anvil. Says Jha, ¨We are planning to launch the Shell Rimula R4 L 15W 40 heavy-duty diesel engine oil. The introduction of Shell Rimula R4 L 15W 40 gives transport operators the chance to gain immediate cost-saving benefits for their vehicles and business. Based on high performance Group II base oils, it is one of the most advanced 15W-40 oil technologies available, and is suitable for virtually all on-highway and off- highway equipment including US 2007, Euro 2, 3, 4 and 5 applications. This product meets API CJ-4 and Volvo VDS-4 performance levels. With this product, operators can benefit from low emissions, improved wear and deposit control and improved oxidation resistance (oil life). This product has received a wide range of approvals and meets the requirements of leading agricultural and construction equipment/engine makers such as Caterpillar, Volvo, Cummins, Deutz and MTU.¨

Pensol has also recently introduced new additions to its range. Khemka says, ¨PC-11 and GF-6 are the new specifications and have been launched to give better fuel economy with reduced emissions of NOx and particulate emission, along with introduction of lower viscosity HTHS oil for this purpose.¨

As a leading provider of oil additives, Evonik develops technologies to improve fuel and energy economy as well as productivity. Vernet elaborates, ¨We offer DYNAVIS« technology for fuel and energy-efficient hydraulic fluids, DRIVON™ technologies for automotive engine, driveline and gear oils, and NUFLUX™ technologies for industrial gear oils. We work with all types of lubricant manufacturers in India - multinational companies, national oil companies and local oil and lubricant marketers.¨

R&D initiatives
With the lubricant industry going through regular upgradation of products and solutions to meet the emission norms that need updating on a regular basis, research and development (R&D) has become a major activity for manufacturers. This is evident when we see many of these companies investing heavily in R&D initiatives. Says Jha, ¨Shell Lubricants invests heavily in R&D, which has enabled the company to be the first to market a number of lubricant innovations and value-added services. We have a patent portfolio with over 150 patent series for lubricants, oils and greases. We have around 350 experts in the field globally who work closely with our customers and OEMs to understand their requirements. Shell invests heavily in the development of the next generation of lubricants that will deliver improved energy efficiency without compromising protection.¨

According to Vernet, Evonik invests substantially in R&D in support of innovation. He explains, ¨We maintain four state-of- the-art technology centres - in Germany, the USA, Japan and China. Our world-class laboratories are equipped with the most advanced equipment, closely replicating actual field-testing conditions. They help us to accelerate the process of developing innovative products.¨

Emerging technology trends
Across the mining, material handling and construction segments, the innovation and sophistication required in the equipment is immense, which demands more advanced lubricants. Jha comments on this emerging situation, ¨The latest products and machinery that we see on the block for the construction sector carry much more sophisticated technology, and thus require more advanced lubricants. Lubricant technology is driven by these changing needs of customers and OEMs. As the industry faces the challenges of improving the lube-for-fuel ratio and lowering the cost of production, a key requirement is to lower the operating costs and total maintenance costs. Hence, we see a more rapid adoption of leading-edge lubricants that provide energy efficiency, productivity benefits and lower the total cost of ownership.¨ Khemka elaborates, ¨In lubricants, oil and grease are classified for their application. With the growth in industrial revolution along with new technology, operating temperatures have become wider. In this condition, the oil can sustain only if it has a higher Viscosity Index which is achieved through the Viscosity Index Modifier and Group 4 and 5 Base Oil, which can withstand higher temperatures. In case of grease, along with synthetic base oil, the thickener also plays an important role; more thermally stable thickener can give better protection at high temperature like in the case of clay and polyuria thickeners.¨

He adds, ¨Similarly, for higher load applications, lubricants having better shear stability with high load-bearing capacity should be used, with more emphasis on high viscosity oil, which can also be replaced with synthetic base oil. High shear stable thickener in grease helps in similar conditions with better EP additive.¨

Vernet explains, ¨Extreme operating conditions require lubricants with more stable viscosity, at both low and high temperatures. The viscosity, or resistance to flow, of every hydraulic fluid changes in response to varying operating temperatures. Hydraulic fluids formulated to our DYNAVIS® technology standard include Viscosity Index improvers that provide increased shear stability and a wider temperature operating window (TOW) - the operable range of temperatures in which a fluid is effective. The positioning and the width of the window depend largely on the characteristics of the pump and the hydraulic fluid itself. For instance, an ISO 46 fluid formulated with DYNAVIS® technology flows easier at low temperatures while it has a better mechanical efficiency and volumetric efficiency at high temperatures.¨

Overall Scenario
Jha elaborates, ¨The competitive industrial world demands higher productivity and higher efficiency. A few industry trends that can be observed are high power density machinery, stringent emission norms, electronically-controlled engines and hydraulics. All these trends have created a need for high-performance lubricants.¨ He adds, ¨The competitive world is demanding higher productivity and higher efficiency from the hydraulic systems to improve the bottom line. OEMs like Bosch Rexroth and Eaton Vickers are replying to these demands by new systems that are operating at higher pressures, and systems that are more compact, to meet the energy efficiency demand.¨

According to Khemka, lubricating oils and greases are subject to changes according to the change in technology in construction/mining equipment. ¨In construction/mining equipment, the operating temperature increases with the load; thus, the requirement for oil which can sustain this load and temperature along with increased oil drain interval. This results in the increase in the reliability of the equipment that helps in getting more performance without any maintenance breakdown. Higher oil drain interval requires oil with better oxidation stability, seal compatibility along with anti-wear, anti-corrosion and anti-rusting properties to extend equipment life.¨ Vernet states, ¨The most recent Tier 4f engine emission regulations seek fuel efficiency from hydraulic fluids. Fuel efficiency now joins a list of desired fluid properties, which over the past 15 years, has grown to include shear stability, wide TOW, long drain interval, VI lift and low temperature. In other words, hydraulic oil with high VI and high shear stability, like DYNAVIS® formulated fluids, improves fuel economy, and helps in reducing emissions through lower fuel use.¨

The government is taking steps to embrace the BS-IV (CEV) norms by 2020. OEMs are focused on designing compact equipment giving better performance output and handling capacity. All these emerging trends can result in improved quality of lubricants in the future.

Case study
Road construction company extends oil-drain interval by 50 per cent with Shell Rimula R4 A road construction company wanted to determine the best lubricants for equipment it would use on a new project in Indore, India. The equipment included heavy-duty machinery from Komatsu, MAN and Greaves. After considering different lubricant suppliers, the company chose Shell Lubricants. Shell recommended Shell Rimula R3 X 15W-40 for all the engines, which gave an oil-drain interval of 300 hours.

Subsequently, owing to an increase in the workload, the customer wanted to extend the oil-drain interval, so Shell proposed Shell Rimula R4 15W-40 for this. To support this recommendation, the Shell technical team used the oil condition monitoring service Shell LubeAnalyst to measure oil performance and identify the correct oil-drain interval.

By switching to Shell Rimula R4 15W-40, the company was able to extend its oil-drain interval by 50 per cent from 300 to 450 hours. The company reduced its lubricant consumption and extended its maintenance intervals because fewer oil changes were required, which resulted in lower maintenance costs. It also benefited from reduced production downtime and was able to complete the project two months earlier than scheduled. The company reported a total annual saving of $40,000.

Shell Rimula R4 Energised Protection oil uses exclusive combinations of the latest high-performance additives to ensure that the oil adapts and protects under the full range of pressures and temperatures found in modern engines - from the high temperatures in the pistons to the extreme loads found in the valve trains. Featuring extraactive additives to control and sweep away the harmful soot and particles found in high-performance engines, Shell Rimula R4 delivers excellent soot and viscosity control, and outstanding protection against wear. It also offers exceptional versatility; fleets with multiple engine makes need only one oil.

¨The more demanding the operating conditions, the more stressed the hydraulic system and its fluid will be.¨

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