To re-lube or not!


Lubricating oils are made with base oils, which forms the majority composition. There are performance enhancing additives that are also used to go with the base oil in a physical and chemical equilibrium. So, all lubricating oils are engineered to target a certain specific engineering application. That’s why you need not only the primary properties of the oil through the base oil, but also performance enhancing additives, which are basically chemicals, mixed for making sure the lubricant delivers on specific requirement of the application. So, once the oil is put into the equipment and it starts getting used, the oil goes through a chemical change and sometimes physical change as well. These changes are sometimes irreversible as it’s a chemical reaction that happens due to load, temperature and speed — factors which are operating on the lubricant as the lubricant delivers on friction and wear reduction. So, the disposed oil normally changes its original complexion in terms of physical and chemical composition.

Is re-lubrication the right choice?
Re-lubrication is important especially when people are tending to cut corners. There are re-refiners who take the used oil and refine to bring it back as base oils. This is not the right practice as these base oils would have already gone through some change and now may be harmful for the operators and sometimes even the machines too. What’s important here is to consider whether you need to reuse the oil from an industry standpoint or usage standpoint. However, it’s better or it is advisable for the industry to use better technology products which can run for a longer period of time. Better oil life, improved equipment life, and overall contributing to the total cost of ownership, which through technology such as Mobil XHC and Mobil Grease range of products, can be delivered to the industry. So, our advice primarily is to go for better technology usage and higher performance products, which can deliver on the productivity requirements of the industry rather than try and go for re-lubrication.

How to select a lubricant?
One of the aspects that needs to be considered while selection of lubricants is to not only look at the product data sheet as the performance goes much beyond those characteristics, our recommendation is to look at the different performance aspects and choose a product, balanced in terms of its formulation and delivery required for the specific applications in the industry.

In terms of the design and metallurgy, there are certain calculations such as the EHL calculation, which our technical services deliver to the customer and equipment builders on the field. So, they look at the operating conditions, load speed, and temperature parameters, specific to an application and then make the right choice by calculating and recommending the right product.

We also make sure that we document our activities in alignment with our customers. At the end of the year, we come out with a report for the customers to present to their management, what the benefits have been delivered and the decision to shift over to Mobil Lubricants was right or not. And most often it is right!

Re-lubrication intervals of the bearings
Selection of lubricants based on EHL calculation and parameters such as load speed and temperature are key in terms of understanding the operational needs of the equipment or bearing and selecting the right product which can suit those application parameters. Consider selection as a primary step for getting best output of the bearing as well as the product lubricant that is used in the bearing. So, re-lubrication is a factor of right selection. If the selection of the product is not optimal, then you need to frequently change the lubricant in the bearing. However, that would also mean downtime because you will have to stop the equipment from pumping more grease into the bearing casing. So, you need to select the right product and the right technology for the specific application needs of the bearing that would give you better re-lubrication intervals as well. It also saves on maintenance time or re-lubrication activity.

Mobilgrease XHP 200, 300 and 400 series
In term of the greases of the bearing applications, we have a wide variety of products which specifically cater to the load, speed and temperature requirements. We have the Mobil Grease XHP 200, 300 and 400 series of products which address most of the application around the industry whether it is manufacturing industry or energy, mining, construction, paper, petrochemical or cement industry. For highly loaded applications, we normally recommend higher viscosity grade greases, the Mobil Grease XHP 462 where 460 stands for the viscosity of the base oil and 2 stands for the energy upgrade of the grease.
These products are typically recommended for highly loaded applications.

Mobilgrease XHP 222
Mobil Grease XHP 222 is known as the glue and sticky grease, a globally popular product. And likewise in the industry, we’ve been seeing significant growth in our volumes for Mobilgrease XHP 222, which caters to pretty much all the sectors around the industry. One of the most popular applications in the construction industry is the wheelhub grease. Mobilgrease XHP 222 delivers very long re-greasing intervals in wheelhub greases in particular. There are instances of this product going much above 150,000 kms in wheelhub application, sometimes even touching 200,000 in terms of usage.

Environmental friendly lubricants
India is now becoming a major export hub. Awareness to only use environmental friendly products is definitely on the rise. Now with more and more awareness, clearly there is more and more need for lubricants which addresses the environmental protection aspects in their formulation, usage and disposal. Beyond that we have the export market. In India, there are more and more manufacturers who are reaching out to the world, by coming into the global scenario and becoming more and more competitive, thereby delivering products to various markets around the world.

The awareness of products to meet certain global demands on environmental aspects is becoming more relevant. The acceptance for products which are formulated right, specifically keeping environmental protection in view and also in terms of the usage is going up. From a regulation standpoint as well, and also with Government of India taking up the Swachh Bharat initiative, there is more awareness that has been created and there are lot of regulatory steps that are put in place as well. It’s a very important for the industry to adopt and embrace and make sure they use the right products, specifically lubricants.

Authored article by:
Shankar Karnik
General Manager
Industrial Lubricants
ExxonMobil Pvt Ltd

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