Grease (lubricant). Engineering industries’ little talked about best friend. Lubricants are present in many engineering industries: Power Generation, Water & Wastewater, Food & Beverage, Oil & Gas, Transportation & Fleet industries, and more. Lubricants simply help machines run at optimum efficiency - and have given rise to the term ‘a well-oiled machine’.
Industrial lubricants also ensure that machines stay healthier for longer. Reducing the amount of friction a machine undergoes during its operation is lubrication engineers’ bread and butter. For fleet owners, for example, having trucks work around the clock is an important outcome for their business models. Trucks still play a vital role in our modern day world - countless industries depend on trucks to get product from ‘A’ to ‘B’. Engine oils, transmission fluids and fuel supplements are important to the truck’s efficiency and lifecycle.
But how much innovation is occurring in the lubrication industry? It turns out that it is quite a bit.
Oil quality is a big focus of the grease world where innovation is welcomed. New blends of greases are being designed that can withstand far more heat and can lead to far less wear and tear - it is all done with synthetic-blend compositions.
A technical services manager for CHS Transportation, talking to Fleet Owner, says:
“Grease isn’t just grease. It’s changed. The quality of the base oil is incredibly important. It’s the majority of what goes into the grease. Synthetics tend to have better life expectancy. You want grease to stay in place so it can do its job where it’s supposed to do its job.”
Country specific recipes
Modern day synthetic greases are 70 to 90% base oil and the remainder is thickener. As newer technologies were introduced into the lubricant industries the thickener has vastly improved; now holding oil better than most greases in the past. Historically, greases would see much oil run-off and wastage.
Even modern day conventional oils sometimes fall short in countries where temperatures drastically drop during winter. Thus, there are specific standards developed per region, catering for what oils are needed. However, there are universal lubricants for specific industries.
Using synthetic oils that are specifically designed to work in those lower temperatures is advisable. But lubricants are not only utilized to keep those truck engines running in winter, they are also used to stop excessive metal-on-metal contact, Ball bearings are in the direct line of experiencing wear and tear. Woetzel says:
“You’ve got to avoid metal-to-metal contact at all cost. Any kind of direct contact leads to wear and tear, which eventually causes problems down the road.”
Future Markets Insights believe that the global industrial lubricants market will be seeing a high growth rate in the next few years due to the growing automotive industry. Power companies and plant operators also utilize oils for their turbines. Where there is machinery, there is always a need for some grease.
Another issue confronting lubricant makers is the need to create them with the environment in mind. Synthetic and renewable, non-hydrocarbon oils is where the industry has been moving to, and engineers have to adapt.
Online sensors have also made their way into the industry. The sensors scan the lubricants and analyze the lubricants in real time to ensure they are effectively offsetting the wear and tear occurring inside a machine. The need for efficiencies and preserving technologies over time has given rise to lubricant innovation, and more can be done despite synthetics being in existence for many decades now.
Mobil recently celebrated 150 years of lubricant innovations. To see how they built their entire company around lubricants - which propelled the industrial revolution forward - is shown in this video:
Lubricants simply keep the world moving. And they will be with us for many years to come to improve efficiencies, circumnavigate the wear and tear of machines, and keep things going along smoothly.
12, Jun. “Grease: The New Frontier in Fleet Technology.” Fleet Owner, 13 June 2018, www.fleetowner.com/lubricants/grease-new-frontier-fleet-technology.
Budholiya, Abhishek, and Himesh Khatri. “In-Depth Forecast & Analysis on Industrial Lubricants Market for 2015 – 2025.” SatPRnews, www.satprnews.com/2018/06/11/in-depth-forecast-analysis-on-industrial-lubricants-market-for-2015-2025/.