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Articles from LUBRICATION SYSTEMS (32 Articles)

Left to their own devices, McCarthy and Pettersson would get lost in deep conversations about hydrocarbons, polyalphaolefins and kinematic viscosity.
Left to their own devices, McCarthy and Pettersson would get lost in deep conversations about hydrocarbons, polyalphaolefins and kinematic viscosity.

Oiling the wheels of success

An articulated hauler would not be very successful without any gears. A wheel loader would not be a very good earthmoving machine without wheels. An excavator would be worthless without hydraulic valves.

We all know each component in a piece of construction equipment is essential to that machine’s success.

Each element represents years of research, testing and innovation – it’s not there by accident and it most definitely serves an important purpose.

Despite the significance of these components, oil is overlooked as one of the essential ingredients in a healthy piece of construction equipment. Just imagine trying to operate construction equipment without the help of engine, hydraulic, transmission, axle and wet-brake lubricants, coolants or grease. It wouldn’t happen.

Many machine operators and owners hold the opinion that oils and lubricants are simply oils and lubricants; they are all much the same – drilled out of the ground and straight into a bottle.

However, it takes only a few hours with Dr Anders Pettersson and Dr Donald McCarthy at Volvo Construction Equipment’s Technical Centre at Eskilstuna, Sweden to realise this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Vital parts

Left to their devices, these two lubricant enthusiasts would get lost in deep conversations about hydrocarbons, polyalphaolefins and kinematic viscosity.

However, when asked about the key role of lubricants in the smooth running of construction plant and equipment, they go straight to the point that really matters to machine owners.

“Before, people built a machine and then looked around for some oil to go in it,” McCarthy said.

“Today, we see oil as a component – and a vital one. We consider oil from the very start.

“Lubricants play a huge role in maximising machine performance and uptime while minimising maintenance and cutting the total cost of ownership. The best lubricants are engineered to make a machine more responsive and quicker, enabling it to do more while using less fuel. We have seen new oils raise performance by as much as 10 to 15 per cent. Not many people know that.”

With more than 800 staff carrying out cutting-edge research while testing and working on new advanced technology and engineering projects, Volvo CE’s largest research and development site – “the testing centre” – in Eskilstuna is state of the art.

“There are five of us working full-time on lubricants,” global lubricants co-ordinator Pettersson said. “As well as the laboratory, we have testing cells and machines here. We keep an eye on all forms of data coming in from the field and monitor the performance of a large number of machines all around the world. We also work closely with our partners, as well as with other parts of the Volvo Group.”

‘Salad dressing’

When asked about Volvo’s own brand of lubricants, Pettersson explained how unique and specific they are to the Volvo line of machines. Some Volvo lubricants are designed for the most extreme conditions: -40°C in Siberia or 40°C in desert regions such as Western Australia.

“It’s like creating a salad dressing,” Pettersson said. “You start with base oil – it can be slightly different, whether extra virgin olive oil, rapeseed or whatever – and then you add the spices, depending on whether you want a Caesar salad dressing or vinaigrette. The additives are only a small percentage of the mix, but make a huge difference to its properties.”

McCarthy said, “Think of oil as whisking cream. Poor quality oils thicken quickly; good oils don’t, so they function well for longer, protecting machine parts and maximising fuel efficiency.”

Better uptime

McCarthy continued, “This also means you don’t have to drain the oil from a machine as often. Extending these drain intervals is crucial to improving uptime and makes a massive difference, to large fleet owners in particular.”

And while the focus is on new developments, McCarthy added, the Technology Centre team is also committed to improving existing oils and lubricants. “Not everyone has access to top-level products, but it’s important that owners in more remote areas can also get lubricants that are Volvo-approved, tested and functioning at their best,” he said.

“It can be frustrating that people don’t know what we can do to help them, but we see that as a challenge. More and more people are becoming aware of the key part played by lubricants. We are spreading that message through training courses for dealers, so their staff can explain to customers just how important it is.” 

Source: CJD Equipment/Volvo Construction Equipment

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