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Lubricate right and save energy

Energy efficiency goes without saying in many companies – in fact it may even be a government requirement. And smarter lubrication can make a big difference. The right products and routines save energy, while also assuring the technical performance of the machinery.

Many companies make energy efficiencies to reduce costs. In Sweden and Denmark, official requirements are now even tougher. Under the EU’s Energy Efficiency Directive, large companies must monitor their energy use, show how much energy they consume and suggest efficiency measures. Lubrication can play a major role in this process: for instance, companies can choose products that increase the performance of their machinery.

I’m particularly thinking about machinery that is outdoors all year round, and which in our climate can be exposed to temperature variations of over 40 degrees Celsius. Cold causes some lubricants to harden. This in turn makes the machines run less smoothly and puts them under more strain, which increases energy consumption. In this case, the solution is to use synthetic lubricants. These work well all year round, thus helping to reduce energy consumption.

Typical examples are hydraulics, conveyors at sawmills, where electric motors, gears and bearings need to be correctly lubricated all year round. The same applies at quarries that have crushing machines to grind the rock. The gearboxes in the crushers run for large parts of the year. My guess is that seven out of ten companies have mineral oils in their gearboxes. The mineral oil is often pre-heated during the winter season. This spoils the oil and consumes an unnecessarily high amount of energy. Here too, synthetic products make a difference. A synthetic oil can also extend the drain interval, which leads to further savings and efficiencies.

Conditions do of course vary in different industries, and it can be tough to see where the potential for improvement is greatest. Another factor is that special products tend to be more expensive. The key is to know where an investment in better lubrication will pay off, for example through energy savings. It’s a good idea to ask your lubricant supplier for help getting started.

Here at FUCHS, we have calculation tools that can accurately pinpoint your potential savings. In practice it’s like an on-board computer that takes account of the product’s price, the achieved energy saving, as well as the cost of oil changes, maintenance and many other parameters. The result is a comprehensive savings calculation which shows if and how a lubrication investment will pay off.

There are also savings to be made when it comes to large hydraulic systems in industry. This is a new area which targets systems that work under high pressure and varying temperature ranges. There are new, better hydraulic oils to be had here. We have conducted field tests with hydraulics firms, and the results show that these lubricants bring clear energy efficiencies.

So to sum up, the key is to focus on the machinery that’s kept and used outdoors. Also, invest in synthetic products as these will lubricate in all weathers and save energy. They will also prolong the drain intervals. Your lubricant supplier can help you pinpoint the potential savings with calculations, which will show you where it is worth investing in a particular lubricant.


Tore Nilsen

Want to know more?
Feel free to contact me or one of my colleagues.

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Smart Lubrication

Smart Lubrication is a blog from FUCHS where we share our common knowledge about lubricants and lubrication.

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