Lubricants News and Updates

Posts about:

Product Integrity

Grease Compatibility - Doug's Tip of the Month

 

Grease compatibility is often a consideration for end users and suppliers when switching from one grease to another. Grease compatibility should be based on several factors: Base Oil, Thickener Type and Additives. The reason all three should be considered is due to the fact that grease consists of three main components – Base oil, thickeners and additives. Charts for grease compatibility can be contradictory and misleading because they base compatibility on thickener only. It is also recommended to know the application; seal material and metallurgy should be considered.

Compatibility studies are usually in accordance with ASTM D6185 test procedure. In this procedure grease is mixed in following at 90:10, 50:50 and 10:90 mixtures of the two greases are prepared by the prescribed methodology and tested for primary tests (i.e., drop point, shear stability and storage stability at elevated temperatures). Additional secondary testing may need to be done based on results of the primary testing.

Switching from one grease to another, even if incompatible, can be done with the proper steps and care. Although incompatible grease can be very detrimental to equipment and seals, following proper steps can help to eliminate damage or issues. Either a clean and dry component, new component or increase in greasing intervals, or emptying the system and recharging with new grease are just a few ways to switch from one grease to another. The term “Grease Incompatibility” can be somewhat over-rated and scary to the end user. With proper steps and consideration switching grease brands or types can be done without damage or concern for equipment.

In conclusion, following OEM recommendations should be first consideration. Always assume that greases are incompatible and follow proper steps to ensure equipment life. Using your supplier’s knowledge of their products can help to switch and even consolidate grease.

Read More

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.

shutterstock_1741088231

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.

 

 

Read More

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

DEF trailer

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.


3 collage

 

Read More

Check out our Taunton Facility, where Product Integrity is Everything

In 2015 we moved out of our longtime corporate headquarters in Chelsea MA into our new facility in Taunton MA. In 2020 we also added another state-of-the art lubricant plant in Saco, Maine.

While current COVID protocols limit our ability to show our facilities to our customers, we thought a photo "walk through" and explanation might be helpful while we wait for things to open up in Massachusetts so we can return to the real thing (which thankfully should be soon!!) 

Below is a quick run through some of the key parts of our main facility in Taunton, Mass. 

One of the things we are most proud of about the Taunton facility, is starting again in the warehouse let us have the ability to put the same level of extra care into planning out product segregation in our facility as we have always done in our trucks. 

We have a substantial tank farm, and our Lubricant Operations team really went the extra mile in installing a segregated piping system, including separate pumps for hydraulic, motor oil, and DEF. This essentially provides extra steps to ensure product integrity, and eliminates the chances of any cross contamination by removing even the chance of slight residual product in hoses after pumping. 

tanksshiny segregated piping

 

Within our customized lube delivery trucks, the same principal applies, as you can see here:

segregated piping in lube trucksloading lube truck

 

For DEF, our DEF trailers are equipped with 1 micron filters, which ensures the cleanest possible product and guarantees no contamination. We run closed systems on all DEF packaging & equipment to ensure quality throughout the life of the product. 

hose reels def trailerdef drum crpped-1

 

Additionally, we added a customized tote wall setup. This setup allows us to store multiple totes in an efficient space, as well as designate each one by product and manufacturer, so each tote only carries its designated item which we can track by barcode from fill through delivery to a customers site, meaning in the event of any issues, we have full visibility into the full journey of the product and know exactly where it is and where it came from. 

Tote Wall - rotatedloading tote wall

 

The barcoded, segregated totes tie into our broader inventory tracking & product delivery platform we use to integrate product management within the warehouse with precise delivery to customers, and route optimization for our drivers, but that's a subject we will cover in another update. 

Saco to follow!

 

Read More