November 8, 2015 • Oiling the Wheel of Success

“It can be frustrating that people don’t know what we can do to help them but we see that as a challenge,” says McCarthy. “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 that their staff can explain to customers just how important it is.”

OIling the wheel 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 with Hydraulic Valves.

We all know each component of a piece of Construction Equipment is essential to that machines success. Each element represents years of research, testing and innovation – it’s not there by accident and it most definitely serves an important purpose.

We are all well aware of these essential components for a machines success. Yet so often, oil is overlooked as one of these essential ingredients in the make-up of a healthy piece of construction equipment. But 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 maintain 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 only takes a few hours spent with Dr Anders Pettersson and Dr Donald McCarthy at Volvo Construction Equipment’s Technical Centre at Eskilstuna in 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. But today they got 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. Today, we see oil as a component – and a vital one,” says McCarthy.

“We consider oil from the very start. Lubricants play a huge role in maximizing machine performance and uptime while minimizing 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 10-15%. Not many people know that.”

With over 800 staff carrying out cutting-edge research, while testing and working on new advanced technology and engineering projects – Volvo CE’s largest R&D site “The Testing Centre” is world class.

“There are five of us working full time on lubricants,” says global lubricants co-ordinator Pettersson. “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 explains 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 like Western Australia.

“It’s like creating a salad dressing,” he says. “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.”

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

BETTER UPTIME

“This also means you don’t have to drain the oil from a machine as often,” he explains. “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 adds, the Technology Center 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 which are Volvo-approved, tested and functioning at their best.”

“It can be frustrating that people don’t know what we can do to help them but we see that as a challenge,” says McCarthy. “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 that their staff can explain to customers just how important it is.”

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