Tag Archives: lubricants

Brammer Buck & Hickman on achieving the three ‘Rs’ in bearings

At a time when the world is looking to limit its energy usage and impact on the climate, pressure is mounting on the mining industry, worldwide, to play its part in the transition to a net zero economy, Alan Stewart* writes.

The products and services we produce need to be sustainable; they need to be produced through economically-sound processes that minimise negative environmental impacts while conserving energy and natural resources.

Individual bearings use relatively little energy, but as they are in such widespread use, and are also one of the most frequently replaced machinery components, the sustainability of the bearings you use matters. By applying the three Rs waste hierarchy – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – to bearings, we can make a genuine difference.


Is it possible to reduce the number of bearings used? Well, you can’t simply not use a bearing where one is required, but, by extending their life, you can reduce the total number of bearings used during that machine’s lifespan.

To ensure longevity, select the right bearing for the task at hand. There’s an incredibly wide range to choose from, many of which have been created for use in mines and other similarly demanding environments. SKF Explorer Spherical Roller Bearings, for example (pictured), are ideally suited for operation in harsh conditions, including mining. They help cut costs and extend bearing service life thanks to their high radial and axial load-carrying capacity and low operating friction. They have recently been upgraded to feature even higher quality steel and an improved heat treatment, for an even better service life performance. A specialist version for vibratory applications, such as vibrating screens, is available, which is proven to last twice as long as other screen bearings and also operate at lower temperatures.

It’s important to do your homework or ask for advice on the bearing best suited to your specific needs.

Not only should the bearing be the right type, but it should also be of a good quality. Opting for a low cost, unrecognisable brand not only risks premature failure and costly downtime, but it may also lose performance over time, which almost always results in wasted energy as most systems keep drawing power despite the drop or lack of output. Every second of wasted production equates to wasted energy and impacts on a days’ production targets.

Ensuring the product is correctly fitted also has a part to play. Misalignment can lead to friction and vibration which can significantly increase energy consumption, plus the risk of premature failures. Alignment tools are readily available which allow you to increase machine reliability through easy to use and accurate alignment. Other options include selecting products that don’t require realignment, such as SKF Cooper Split Spherical Roller Bearings that do not require the drive coupling or the cantilevered drive to be dismounted to replace the bearing; these bearing types are easily and safely replaced in-situ. This also greatly reduces the safety risk to workers in mines and makes for faster maintenance, reducing mean time to repair by two thirds.

Reduce the amount of lubrication you use by using sealed, re-lubrication-free bearings such as SKF’s Three-Barrier Solution. In mining environments, open bearings quickly become damaged from ingress of dirt. SKF’s Three-Barrier Solution (ideally suited to conveyor systems) consists of a bearing housing – with labyrinth S seals, a lubricant to act as a contamination barrier and sealed spherical roller bearing. These three barriers protect the bearing from contaminants, leading to extended bearing service life which is, on average, three times longer than standard open bearings.

Sealed bearing units also help to reduce lubrication usage. Alternatively, automated lubrication systems can be installed to ensure the correct amount of lubrication is applied, reducing wastage.


When it comes to reuse, you may be surprised to hear that bearings can be remanufactured, which can significantly prolong bearing service life, as well as reduce cost and lead times. A large variety of bearing types can be remanufactured, including backing bearings, caster bearings, large sized bearings, slewing bearings and housings. Bearing remanufacturing can significantly reduce carbon emissions, consuming around 10% of the energy of making a new one. By extending bearing service, remanufacturing avoids the scrapping of components and wasteful use of natural resources.

In addition to bearings remanufacture, lubricants can also be reused in some cases. SKF’s RecondOil, for example, removes contaminants from used oils, and returns them to a cleaner, usable and high-grade state. Compared to a traditional, linear use, regenerating the oils allows for a significant decrease of CO2 emissions.


While the amount of steel per bearing is on the decline due to better bearing design and more efficient manufacturing methods, that steel still has a value as scrap. Not all bearings are easy to recycle though and normally only parts of them can be recycled. Check with the manufacturer.

Beyond the product

The three Rs are a good starting point to help improve the sustainability of your bearings’ usage, but you can’t apply sustainability to the product in isolation. It’s important to take into account every aspect surrounding that product, including the manufacturer and its suppliers and distributors. Sustainability should encompass the use of raw materials; the manufacturer’s factory processes and utilisation of those materials; the amount and type of energy used to make the bearings; distribution and transportation. Does the manufacturer deploy the IS0 14001 Environmental Management System and the ISO 50001 Energy Management System across all of its sites, for example?

Reducing wastage when it comes to bearings is not only good for the planet, but makes good business sense. A bearing that performs well over a long period of time is a bearing that won’t slow your machinery down and won’t lead to expensive unplanned maintenance and downtime. Applying the three Rs to bearings is a good investment in the future, whichever way you look at it.

*Alan Stewart is Brammer Buck & Hickman Bearing Product Manager – SKF Products

HollyFrontier division set to showcase Petro-Canada Lubricants offering at MINExpo

HollyFrontier Lubricants & Specialties says it will be exhibiting its leading range of Petro-Canada Lubricants fluids and greases at MINExpo 2021 in Las Vegas, USA, in September.

The HollyFrontier division will be showcasing its complete lubricant offer for all mining equipment at the event (September 13-15), including Petro-Canada Lubricants DURON™ heavy-duty engine oils, HYDREX™ hydraulic fluids and PRODURO™ transmission drive train oils.

“Delivering superior protection to help make mining operations more efficient, Petro-Canada Lubricants products reduce unplanned downtime and improve equipment reliability,” the company says.

Showcased at MINExpo will be innovative grease PEERLESS™ 3 Moly 322, which is formulated for the protection of low speed, severe heavy-duty applications where high temperatures and heavy loads are common, and wear protection is critical. Providing protection for pins, joints, bushings and bearings, PEERLESS 3 Moly 322 can extend component life on mining equipment operating in wet conditions, the company claims.

Visitors to the Petro-Canada Lubricants booth will also be able to access information regarding the GREASE-N-GO automatic lubricator. The automatic lubricator provides consistent protection for equipment and reduces the potential for unplanned maintenance by delivering the right amount of lubricant at the right time, according to the company.

Sharon Perichak, Fleet and Mining Segment Manager at HollyFrontier Lubricants & Specialities, said: “We’re looking forward to meeting with operators at MINExpo to discuss how our innovative products can help make their operations more robust by reducing maintenance costs and unplanned downtime. Our industry-leading high-performance lubricants meet this challenge by offering superior protection in the harshest operating environments to help make mining operations more efficient and profitable.”

Is your oil breathing?

When it comes to heavy mining equipment, effective oil breathers are of paramount concern, according to Harshvardhan Singh*.

Why is oil breathing necessary?

As far as operating environments for vehicles go, mine sites are about as harsh as it gets. Dust, dirt, mud, water, humidity, temperature variations, road conditions, and unpredictable operator driving behaviour are some of the factors that regularly test a vehicle’s efficiency.

For a vehicle to run smoothly, the internal mechanisms should be properly lubricated. Lubricants, as we all know, not just lubricate but also cool, clean, and provide noise dampening and sealing. Mining vehicles typically use four main types of lubricants – engine, transmission, axle and hydraulic. The brands and grades used can vary from one original equipment manufacturer to another based on the type and size of equipment.

Similar to humans bodies, , the blood circulating within the body should be healthy for it to function properly. The same is true with machines, where the health of lubricants should be in good condition to achieve higher machine reliability. Oil breathers play a vital role in ensuring oil is kept in optimal condition, eliminating build up of air pressure within an enclosed system containing oil. If this pressure is allowed to build up and is not vented efficiently, it can result in oil leaks, oil contamination and power losses.

Anatomy of a breather

A breather has a small vent or vents and its body can be made up of either steel or other material. Breathers generally have an inbuilt filter element made of paper, foam or fibre media. A typical desiccant breather (breather with a drying agent) uses silica gel to remove moisture and a filter media to remove particles greater than three microns in size.

Oil breather types and functions

  1. Engine oil breathers, or crankcase breathers: during the process of combustion, some combustion gases escape past the piston rings and enter the crankcase. The breather is a small pipe located inside the engine bending downwards, which helps depressurise the crankcase by releasing these gases to the atmosphere. This helps achieve better engine performance, lower oil consumption and lower oil degradation.
  2. Hydraulic oil breathers: these breathers are mounted on hydraulic tanks to prevent ingress of contaminants and water from the surroundings into the system. They also help remove the occurrence of a buildup of pressure or vacuum due to temperature or volume changes.
  3. Transmission oil breathers (pictured above): these breathers are mounted on transmissions to maintain air pressure equilibrium when the air inside expands and contracts due to heating and cooling of transmission oil during vehicle operation. The inbuilt filtration media blocks entry of contaminants and moisture, which can enter the system with air suction.
  4. Axle oil breather (pictured below): these breathers are mounted on differential housing. While in operation, the air inside the axle assembly heats up and expands, increasing the pressure. This pressure needs to be vented out to the atmosphere. When the axle assembly cools down, the air inside contracts and creates a vacuum. The breather helps in serving this process.

Maintaining oil breathers

The condition of oil breathers needs to be checked at every scheduled maintenance interval. The breathers should be replaced if the condition is found to be critical, in addition to the recommended change period mentioned in a vehicle’s manual. One of the best ways to check if the breather is working is to pass compressed air through the breather or blow air in manually via mouth. If the breather is not choked, air will pass through the breather. This method can only be used for checking axle breathers and transmission breathers. For hydraulic breathers, generally visual inspections are carried out to check condition.

Breathers – especially axle breathers – can be repositioned to a higher position on the machine in order to protect them from mud, which gets splashed on axle assemblies during vehicle operation.

*Harshvardhan Singh works as a Senior Service Engineer with an international mining equipment firm in Ajmer, India

The changing demand in oil condition monitoring technology

Chris Greenwood, Managing Director, at Tan Delta Systems, explains how the latest innovations in oil conditioning monitoring can create major benefits to businesses including positive impacts to the bottom line.

In this current commercial environment businesses are constantly looking for new ways to gain that competitive edge and support their bottom line long term.

Critical need

Sectors such as manufacturing, power, mining, quarrying and logistics might seem quite detached but they are similar in one key way. They all use oil dependent machinery or vehicles with hydraulics, engines, gearboxes and transformers, and need to ensure they are as reliable and productive as can be for business continuity.

With this in mind, it is fundamentally critical for these businesses to conduct regular health and status inspections to achieve operational efficiencies. This is especially important in extreme, and often harsh, climates such as dusty or humid mine sites, or freezing arctic natural gas processing plants, and everything in between.

Maintenance engineers and plant managers often prioritise condition monitoring inspections according to the equipment importance or value, focusing on these first and often overlooking other aspects.

Hydraulics, engines, gearboxes and transformers can all be at risk of even miniscule changes in oil condition which can have a big impact. As oil condition degrades with use or contamination by fuel, water or acid, it can quickly result in oil losing lubrication properties, subsequently leading to equipment damage.

To reduce the risks and costs associated with potential equipment damage, maintenance and plant managers are looking for improved methods of understanding the repair history of equipment, operating characteristics and failure probability. Through understanding this, it is possible to identify prevention measures and obtain substantial cost savings at the same time.


Businesses already using condition-based monitoring equipment demand a lot from it, and unfortunately not all sensors are comparable or even able to meet all of the requirements customers expect.

Real-time oil analysis provides important information about equipment wear levels, as well as the condition of the oil itself. Keeping machinery operating at the optimal level involves measuring, monitoring and analysing changes in lubricant and fuel oils for contamination and chemical content.

This data can provide insights into issues affecting performance and reliability, and operators can make cost effective maintenance decisions based upon these oil analysis results.

Therefore, the sensors needed must be highly accurate, with strong performance records in harsh and extreme conditions and be able to continuously monitor, detect and report on any oil quality change. They must be customisable and configurable to many oil types in multiple applications and, of course, be compatible with existing site equipment. What’s more, they must be able to provide real-time information to help pinpoint issues quickly, enabling precision in planning maintenance schedules.

Additional demands come in the form of what the sensors can deliver to the business as a whole: low operating costs, reduced downtime, optimised service intervals and improved safety. Also, knowing they can provide environmental benefits and allow managers to reconsider how they define business critical equipment through the use of intelligent data capture and support intelligent proactive decision making. All factors that contribute to the overall success of a business.

Overlooked − but highly beneficial

Monitoring oil condition across a facility can be easily overlooked due to practicality and the potentially high cost implications. However a ‘run to failure’ approach is fraught with risk, whilst scheduled preventive maintenance is limited in effectiveness, further emphasising the importance of implementing the latest technologies to ensure costly unforeseen issues are avoided.

The cost of such oil condition monitoring sensors is easily covered with the savings achieved from extended machine life, reduced wastage, improved energy efficiency, and, ultimately, satisfied customers.

With benefits like this and the advanced technological developments, it is hard to think why organisations would not be looking to increase their competitive edge and bottom line by employing this technology.

ExxonMobil launches new synthetic lubricant for mining extremes

ExxonMobil says its new Mobil SHC™ Elite synthetic lubricant can help protect mining equipment operating at extreme hot and cold temperatures, while increasing energy efficiency and extending oil drain intervals.

The breakthrough synthetic lubricant offers class-leading performance benefits to mine operators, according to the company, explaining that extensive testing has shown Mobil SHC Elite can deliver double the oil life of traditional synthetic products and up to 12 times the oil life of mineral products.

The company added: “It can also help protect equipment operating at temperatures up to 150°C in intermittent service, meaning it is ideally suited for use in a range of mining equipment, such as in the gears and bearings of excavators, haul trucks, augers and conveyors.”

The synthetic lubricant is formulated to deliver wear protection and oxidation resistance without any of the compatibility challenges often associated with glycol-based products used in high temperature applications, it said.

In addition, Mobil SHC Elite has also demonstrated an “enhanced torque ratio”, enabling it to deliver a 3.6% energy efficiency improvement when compared with conventional mineral oils, ExxonMobil says.

Emre Noyan, Industrial Marketing Manager at ExxonMobil, said: “Demanding loads and tough conditions mean that every component of mining equipment must be optimised and protected from extreme in-service temperatures.

“Mobil SHC Elite’s extended oil life, wide temperature range performance and energy efficiency improvement can help operators increase uptime and cut costs – giving them a competitive edge.”

Mobil SHC Elite has already received approval for its performance from gearbox manufacturers including Siemens, whose FLENDER gear units depend on effective lubrication to ensure reliability in intense operating environments, the company said.

LiuGong enhances ties with lubricant specialist Valvoline

LiuGong and Valvoline Inc have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will see Valvoline become the Chinese equipment maker’s preferred provider of lubricants for markets outside of China.

Zeng Guang’an, Chairman of Guangxi LiuGong Group and Guangxi LiuGong Machinery, and Kevin Thieneman, LiuGong Vice President of Strategy and Aftermarket, were present at the signing ceremony for the strategic global alliance, held in Houston, Texas.

“Today’s announcement with industry leader Valvoline is another step in our mission to provide complete solutions to our customers,” Zeng said. “And Valvoline is the perfect partner to help us realise this long-term ambition.”

Thieneman added: “Construction equipment customers consistently tell us that they want the lowest total cost of ownership. LiuGong already offers a very competitive machine acquisition cost. The Valvoline partnership enhances the ability of LiuGong and our dealers to keep machines running as well as extend the useful life.”

Craig Moughler, Valvoline Senior Vice President of Product Supply and OEM, said the company had established a strong relationship with LiuGong in many markets and the company was looking forward to expanding this and delivering solutions to LiuGong and its customers.