Lubricants News and Updates

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Doug Vrooman

Hydraulic Systems & Equipment  - Doug's Tip of the Month

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Quality hydraulic fluids have advanced formulations, high VI and the most advance additive packages to provide operating and maintenance benefits for increased productivity and less downtime. T

wo rules of thumb for hydraulic fluid are to keep it - “Clean and Dry”, because research and testing has proven that over 80% of hydraulic pumps wear and system failures are due to particulates and water contamination. Production downtime and labor costs for repairs often outweigh the cost of replacement of hydraulic components or systems. 

A hydraulic system can be complex with very high pressures. Most hydraulic system components have very tight tolerances ranging from 0.1 to 40 microns. Particles larger then allow tolerances can weaken the lubricant film and cause premature wear. Ingression of particulates (contaminates) usually enters the hydraulic system reservoirs or tanks through the breather cap. This is because a hydraulic reservoir will “breathe” every time the fluid is pumped in and out of an actuator or cylinder. Most particulate starts off as just airborne dust or dirt, then it finds its way into hydraulic reservoirs. From the reservoirs the particulates can find their way to the hydraulic pump and out to valves, bushings, seals, bearings, and other components. It is here that premature wear begins.

Filtration and quality breather elements are key to minimizing airborne contamination. Filtration and filter elements should be specific to the hydraulic system and its tolerances. This also holds true for a reservoir/tank breather element. Like a quality filter, a quality desiccant breather is one that: achieves the target level for “cleanliness and dryness”, has the capacity to hold and filter contaminants between fluid change-outs, but also should be easily visible for routine inspection during preventive maintenance.

Preventing the ingression of contaminants and water with quality filters, breather and hydraulic fluid is easier and costs much less then downtime or labor to replace a hydraulic system or components.

To summarize: Keeping hydraulic fluid “Clean and Dry” will extend the life of the fluid and the equipment.

 

 

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Doug's Tip of the Month - Oil Analysis Flagging Limits

An oil analysis report contains results on as many as 40 different parameters that each have acceptable ranges identified. The type of oil, its formulation, how it should be maintained, and the operating conditions all are considered when evaluating an oil sample and setting acceptable ranges. Also considering the type of equipment and the operating environment is just as important.

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An acceptable oil analysis program should consist of these basic components; standard processes for the establishment of normal ranges, along with the identification of limits and a reliable system for recognizing failure modes. Most labs offer comments and recommendations in the form of flags that are patterned after green, yellow and red traffic lights. Yellow and red flagged parameters indicate that a threshold has been passed and further action is required on the part of the end user; green flagged information indicates an item is within range, and is archived for trending. Some parameters, such as particle counts, only have upper limits. Other parameters, such as oxidative stability, only have lower limits. Parameters such as viscosity, that measure stability, have both upper and lower limits. There is not a universal approach for setting alarm limits. Also, some parameters and stats on the lab report are not critical to that specific piece of equipment, so not every oil analysis parameter needs an alarm limit.

Because oil analysis is as much expertise as formulae and there are so many considerations involved, most labs do not publish limit information. The issue for end-users is who sets the range and who to believe—formulator, OEM, lab, industry, association such as ASTM—and why.

There are four traditional absolute methods for determining oil analysis ranges and flagging limits.

 

These methods are:

  1. Industry standards. These are generic limits placed on machines that are grouped according to working pressure or type (e.g., gearboxes or hydraulic systems). These standards are generally considered baseline. Limits set by industries and associations often involve equipment with strict safety and reliability requirements. These limit values should be carefully considered.
  2. Statistical alarms. These are based on common distribution functions that are usually built into software.
  3. Trend-based or rate-of-change limits. These define an unacceptable departure from a usual level. There are three ways of developing trend or rate of-change alarms:
    1. Relative magnitudes. This identifies a significant change in magnitude.
    2. Rolling average. This compares the current value to the average of several historical measurements.
    3. Weighted delta settings. This uses a weighting method that requires a very large change to occur before an alarm is tripped for a small measured value. As the measured value increases, the required percentage change decreases.
  4. No predefined limits. These are judgment-based and rely on the availability of experienced analysts familiar with the type of machinery being monitored. A qualified technical data analyst will have relevant industry experience and bring value to the recommendations by considering a multitude of factors rather than focusing on a single test result and evaluating it without consideration of other key data. In addition to statistical anomalies, a data analyst reviews rates of change and the amount of time on both the equipment and fluid.

 

Consider working with your Technical Advisor and a Lab to help determine any changes to flagging limits for the end-user.

 

 

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Final Drive Train Oil - Doug's Tip of the Month

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Final Drive Train Oil

Final drives play a crucial role within a machine’s drive train by transferring power to the tires or tracks while providing speed reduction and torque increase. Since final drives are closed components and thus hidden from view, it is easy to overlook their maintenance.

Proper Oil Use

The three main functions of oil are to provide: cleaning, cooling and lubrication. Modern drive train systems feature new metals, elastomers and paper disc materials which may have advanced lubrication needs, requiring you to change oil at the correct intervals, properly, and use the right drive train oil to achieve top performance.

Use the Right Drive Train Oil

Final drives, axles and differentials experience high gear and bearing loads and temperatures. In these conditions, it is important gears and bearings are protected.                            

Depending on the configuration of the final drive and the equipment, 1 of 2 very different fluids may be recommended, Tractor Hydraulic fluid or TDTO/CAT TO-4.  

Tractor Hydraulic Fluids – also most commonly known as – THF or UTF – which can carry all of the required additives to meet or exceed OEM specifications.

  1. This fluid is typically used to lubricate transmissions, wet brakes, clutches, hydraulic systems, and of course final drive.
  2. To meet the specific requirement for this fluid must have: Friction Modifiers – which help to prevent wet brake squeal and offer smoother clutch operation
  3. Tractor Fluids meet or exceed API GL-4 spec.

TDTO (Transmission Drive Train Oil)/CAT TO-4 – also known as Powershift Transmissions and Drivetrain Fluid.

  1. Primarily used in CAT equipment or other equipment that requires fluids without friction modifiers
  2. This type of fluid is used to lubricate transmissions, brakes, clutches, hydraulic systems and of course final drive.
  3. To meet the specific OEM requirements for this fluid: TDTO fluids do not contain (Friction Modifiers). TDTO fluids are available in SAE Grades of 10W, 30, 50 and 60 for specific application and temperature requirements.
  4. TDTO fluids – only meet API GL-3 spec

Larger and more advanced equipment may require a heavier viscosity, synthetic fluid, which will meet the new CAT FDAO spec for Final Drive Axles. This fluid is commonly used in Differentials, Front Wheels and Final Drives for Off-Highway Trucks.

 

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Fluid Management: Hydraulic Oils - Doug's Tip of the Month

A common question amongst maintenance personnel is around the life expectancy of our Hydraulic Oils in their machines. For the most part, many maintenance personnel say that they expect a very short time because of the aggressive environment surrounding the manufacturing equipment.

And this is true if we recognize that the oil will suffer just two adverse effects in the equipment: Contamination & Degradation.

Premium hydraulic oils are capable of maintaining their initial characteristics and protect the equipment for a very long time…..even several years in a properly designed hydraulic system and with a proactive maintenance program.

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6 areas to help extend the life of Hydraulic fluid while protecting equipment:

1.-Choose the Right Product:

A few Premium Hydraulic fluids characteristics:

  1. Advanced Technologies in Base Oils and Additives:
    1. Keep the oil and system clean
    2. Have Outstanding contamination control
    3. Have Exceptional protection against wear
    4. Control demulsibility

2.-Prevent Contamination:

  1. Keep strict housekeeping control.shutterstock_2056850768
  2. Change from metal screen breathers to a desiccant breather.
  3. Use proper Filtration and filters with an Absolute Ratio β according to your needs.
  4. Segregate type of lubricants to prevent compatibility concerns.
  5. Consolidate Inventory of Lubricants.
  6. Fix leaks and the air intrusion in the equipment.
  7. Do not use after-market additives or mix products.
  8. Identify and ‘Lube Tag’ the equipment and the oil being used.

3.-Avoid Waste

  1. Repair leaks
  2. Use the golden rule: The right product in the right place with the right amount.

4.-Protect against deterioration:

  1. Maintain proper storage and handling of hydraulic fluids.
  2. In outside storage, stack drums horizontally or upside down to prevent water contamination
  3. Monitor equipment operation to avoid: high temperatures, excessive air exposure, static or electric discharges.

5.-Extend Useful Life

  1. Purchase Premium products to meet your equipment’s needs.
  2. Determine the optimum practical drain interval.
  3. Establish a system of simple checks in the field to assure the integrity of the oil and its operations – Send in routine used oil samples to a laboratory.

6.-Personnel Training on Lubricants

  1. Training generates experience and this is the base of an optimum use and preservation of the lubricants and the benefits that can be achieved.
  2. Do not let unauthorized/inexperienced people handle lubricants.
  3. Hydraulic lube oils are the heart and soul of your equipment and maintaining a staff that can take proper oil samples and interpret the laboratory testing results will pay huge dividends back to any operation.

 

 

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Maintaining Proper Oil Levels - Doug's Tip of the Month

Maintaining Proper Oil Levels in Reservoirs, Sumps, Gearboxes and Crank case

Whether the case is Automotive – (engines, transmission, differentials), Gearboxes, Circulating Systems or Pumps; maintaining proper oil levels in reservoirs and sumps is imperative for both the equipment and oil life.

When oil levels are too low, machine wear and damage can occur very rapidly. There may be an increase in friction due to the lack of lubricating boundary film and/or viscosity changes from increased fluid temperatures. The lack of oil can lead to metal-to-metal contact which can in turn cause wear. This wear mechanism, known as spalling, pitting, smearing and seizing, all of which are forms of Adhesive Wear, are most common from metal to metal contact.

When oil levels are too high, it mainly can affect the lubricant and its properties, but can also cause damage to equipment. Oil levels that are too high for long periods of time can result in the machine or equipment aerating or churning the oil. Oil that has been aerated can change viscosity, speed up oxidation, and use up additives. When equipment or machines are run in these conditions, the lubricating film strength weakens, boundary conditions form and damage to the equipment can occur.

Implementing proper programs and procedures to continually monitor and maintain oil levels will result in longer fluid life and equipment life. Properly training personnel on how to “Monitor and Maintain Fluid Levels” through dip sticks, sight glasses or other methods determined by the OEM can produce higher productivity and less down time. Checking the oil for proper levels at regular intervals will help to ensure long life for both the equipment and the oil.

 

 

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Lubricant Storage & Handling - Doug's Tip of the Month

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One of the most important but overlooked aspects of proper lubricants and lubrication,  is storage, handling and transport of the lubricants.

Storage of lubricants should be in proper containers, which are clearly labeled, to aid in preventing cross contamination.

  • All openings on bulk storage or drum containers should always be kept closed with proper venting, preferably with desiccant breathers. Desiccant breathers help prevent the ingression of contaminants, both in the air such as dust or dirt as well as water content from humidity or a moist environment.
  • Containers should be kept in an area with adequate lighting and ventilation.
  • Lubricants should always be stored with proper containment in case of a spill.
  • Storage areas should always be clean and free of clutter.

Handling and Transport of lubricants should always be in airtight, sealed, color-coded, and clearly labeled container. As part of handling of the lubricants, filtration should be considered.

  • Proper filtration should be used to move lubricants to bulk storage and then again from bulk storage to the transport container.  
  • Optimally, the lubricant should be filtered again before going into the equipment.
  • Filtering systems and carts should have designated pumps and hoses to aid in preventing cross contamination.
  • Filtering lubricants and maintaining clean oil can extend the life of the lubricant as well as extend the life of the equipment being lubricated. An acceptable level of cleanliness is established via the ISO Cleanliness code which is determined by the OEM of the equipment being lubricated.

Improper handling and/or storage of lubricants can easily result in cross-contamination or cross-mixing of oils, which can be very detrimental not only to the lubricant, but also the equipment that it is lubricating. Improper mixing of lubricants can cause oxidation, additive loss, and changes to viscosity.   

If you were to cross contaminate a Gear Oil and an R&O Hydraulic fluid, for example, where only a hydraulic fluid was required it could result in the gear oil attacking (chemically corroding) yellow metals that are found in bearing materials. This is due to the EP – (Extreme Pressure additives) found in Gear Oils. On the other hand, diluting the EP additives in gear oil with an R&O Hydraulic fluid could result in inadequate lubrication for a heavily loaded gear set where Gear Oil is required.

With any lubricant, proper storage and handling should always be the best practice. Keep in mind, that it is easier and less expensive to keep contaminants from entering a lubricant and/or prevent cross contamination, than it is to remove the contaminants or solve the cross contamination issue after the fact.


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