Investing in economic efficiency

State-of-the-art specialty lubricants contribute to economic, success, or how a small investment makes the difference

06/19/2013


Figure 1: Lubricant costs are just the tip of the iceberg. The real costs—and thus the savings potential— are not visible at first glance. Courtesy: Kluber LubricationThe most recent lubricant developments contribute to economical and successful plant and machine operations. Be it the lip of a tool, rolling or plain bearings, or compressors or gears, taking a close look at lubrication and unveiling new potential always pays off.

Regarding the lubricant as an investment in economic efficiency rather than just as a commodity pays off in many ways. Of course, the price of the lubricant is an important factor, but it is more important to look at the entire cost-benefit calculation of a given application.

If synthetic high-performance lubricants tuned to the particular application are used, the total cost of operation decreases. Such lubricants help to save costs even though their purchase price is higher than that of standard lubricants, as the price is just the tip of the iceberg. The real cost, and hence the potential for cost savings, can only be detected at second glance.

The term “return on lubricant” expresses the profitability and the amortization of synthetic specialty lubricants and contains the submerged part of the iceberg, for example, costs for stoppages, maintenance, energy, spare parts, storage, disposal, and of course, lubricant consumption.

Synthetic specialty oils prove their efficiency when it comes to gear lubrication, for instance. Mineral oils should be changed after 5,000 operating hours, while synthetic, polyglycol-based gear oils can last for 25,000 operating hours or more, not only because of their improved ageing resistance, but also because they show high load-carrying capacity and low friction values. The potential for cost savings of synthetic oils is even more impressive if gear maintenance and gear efficiency are included in the cost-benefit analysis.

When it comes to bearing lubrication, specialty greases also ensure extended maintenance intervals. The savings potential can be illustrated by an example from the wind energy sector: if a turbine’s generator bearing has to be replaced after five years due to under-performing lubrication, the resulting costs are considerable. Maintenance work and lost profit, in addition to costs for personnel and materials, can quickly add up to thousands of dollars. If we assume that a turbine’s lifetime is approximately 20 years, the total maintenance cost is more than $20,000. If a suitable synthetic specialty grease is used, only the purchase price must be paid.

Figure 2: It is important to regard the lubricant as a machine element just like rolling or plain bearings and gearwheels whose quality contributes to the performance capacity of plants and machines. Courtesy: Kluber LubricationHigh-performing greases can even ensure lifetime lubrication of bearings so that relubrication becomes unnecessary and already in the design, cost savings can be generated, as relubrication facilities need not be included in the construction.

Another important cost factor is energy. Synthetic specialty lubricants decrease the electrical current consumption compared to mineral oil-based lubricants, for example, when used for the lubrication of compressors or gears. The efficiency increase can amount up to 18% due to the improved friction behavior of synthetic oils. The energy savings generated lead directly to lower operating costs.

It is also important to regard the lubricant as a machine element just like rolling or plain bearings and gearwheels whose quality contributes to the performance capacity of plants and machines. If the lubricant is unable to live up to the requirements of a particular application over the specified time, there will be trouble ahead. Unscheduled stoppages can incur substantial costs due to lost production, personnel costs, and wasted materials. Lubricants tuned to the application at hand help to avoid such costs. They are instrumental for trouble-free operation of plants and machines.

Specialty lubricants also help to combine economic and environmental-friendly operation. High-performance lubricants tailored to a particular application facilitate reliable low- or minimum-quantity lubrication while making efficient use of energy and therefore contribute to conserving resources.

It is best to consider the total benefits a lubricant provides, rather than cost. Looking at the cost-benefit calculation with particular regard to performance capacity and consumption, typically the higher-priced lubricant is by far the lower-cost option.

Florian Held is sales manager for Austria and South East Europe for Kluber Lubrication Austria Ges.m.b.H.

See below for more stories on lubrication strategies.



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Leaders Under 40 program features outstanding young people who are making a difference in manufacturing. View the 2013 Leaders here.
The new control room: It's got all the bells and whistles - and alarms, too; Remote maintenance; Specifying VFDs
2014 forecast issue: To serve and to manufacture - Veterans will bring skill and discipline to the plant floor if we can find a way to get them there.
2013 Top Plant: Lincoln Electric Company, Cleveland, Ohio
Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Plant Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.

Bring focus to PLC programming: 5 things to avoid in putting your system together; Managing the DCS upgrade; PLM upgrade: a step-by-step approach
Balancing the bagging triangle; PID tuning improves process efficiency; Standardizing control room HMIs
Commissioning electrical systems in mission critical facilities; Anticipating the Smart Grid; Mitigating arc flash hazards in medium-voltage switchgear; Comparing generator sizing software

Annual Salary Survey

Participate in the 2013 Salary Survey

In a year when manufacturing continued to lead the economic rebound, it makes sense that plant manager bonuses rebounded. Plant Engineering’s annual Salary Survey shows both wages and bonuses rose in 2012 after a retreat the year before.

Average salary across all job titles for plant floor management rose 3.5% to $95,446, and bonus compensation jumped to $15,162, a 4.2% increase from the 2010 level and double the 2011 total, which showed a sharp drop in bonus.

2012 Salary Survey Analysis

2012 Salary Survey Results

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.