Case Study 3

58 ways to save with Synthetic Lubricants

No matter what industry you’re in, your plant very likely can save money and reduce equipment failure rates by switching from mineral-base oils to synthetic lubes. Need some convincing? The field reports here, broken down by industry and equipment, tell a most convincing story

FIFTY-EIGHT (58) Industrial Plants SAVED an Average of $35,552 a Year in Maintenance…

  • without moving a machine or unscrewing a single bolt
  • without making any changes in process flow, or
  • without any forced reduction in budgets.
  • Key to these savings was switching from mineral-base oils to synthetic lubes.

Lubrication engineers at Mobil Oil surveyed synthetic industrial lubricant users and found that 58 of them who switched in the past six years realized an aggregate savings of $2,062,000 the first year, for an average of $35,552 per user. The applications are mainly in paper, metalworking, electrical power generation, mining and chemical plants. The survey did not include any vehicles such as trucks, construction and offroad equipment and forklift trucks.

Lubricant analysis is required to establish that longer drain intervals may be possible when synthetics are used. Here, a lubrication technician withdraws a sample that will be sent to the laboratory.

While the initial cost of synthetic lubricants is significantly higher than their mineral oil-based counterparts, users quickly realized operational economies which more than pay for the higher cost. The first-year savings for the 59 users of synthetics ranged from $200 a year for a single stage rotary screw air compressor in a metalworking plant to $375,000 for a printing press used in a can-making facility. The savings on the press result from elimination of downtime and rejects because the synthetic grease doesn’t leak or run onto cans as they are being printed. The previous lubricant did.

The principal benefits of switching to synthetics
determined by the survey are:

  1. Labor and material savings – Due to better lubrication and longer intervals between re-greasing or draining lubricants. Mineral oil lubricants contain thousands of different compounds; some tend to volatilize or oxidize at high temperatures, forming sludge that leaves deposits and acid that corrodes metal surfaces. Other undesirable constituents are waxes that gel at low temperatures. No refining or treatment can remove all of these problem-causers. In contrast, synthetic lubricants are composed of only one or two chemical base stocks, formulated without these undesirable compounds. Properly selected additives further enhance their performance. According to Gordon Milligan, Staff Engineer at Mobil, the naturally high viscosity index (VI) of Mobil synthetic lubes provides better lubrication protection at higher temperatures. Their natural oxidation resistance, along with superior detergent/dispersant characteristics, provide maximum protection against deposit formation, even with extended drain intervals or severe service. And, coupled with the fact that these synthetics generally run cooler (especially in gear drives), they oxidize at a much slower rate than conventional mineral oils.
  2. Reduction in power requirements – Since synthetic lubricants have lower internal friction — or increased lubricity — compared with conventional lubricants, less motive power is needed. This especially is important in gear drives.
  3. Reduced failure rate – The synthetics superior lubricating ability, their cooler operating temperatures, and resistance to higher temperatures lead to less wear and significantly fewer failures of bearings and gears in hot, tough applications.
  4. Elimination of cold weather starting problems – Drives, bearings or other components exposed to cold temperatures often will suffer severe wear during startup due to lack of lubricant flow. In many cases conventional lubricants solidify, resulting in starting failures or motor burnouts.

For more information on how synthetic lubricants can save money and reduce downtime contact your Superior Petroleum account manager

Superior Petroleum
865 N Superior Dr. Crown Point, IN 46307
Phone: 800.700.OILS (5457)