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Q & A for Mobil distributors in the UK

Industrial lubrication is not always a simple matter, so here are answers to some questions that you may be tempted to ask Mobil distributors in the UK.

Does the colour of grease mean anything?

If you’ve ever handled greases, you may notice they can come in a wide variety of colours. Some have a pale natural colour, while others are grey or back, and some even come in distinctive colours like deep red and blue. So, does the colour say anything about the quality and type of grease?

There is no industry standard for colour coding greases, so you can’t judge anything based on colour alone. The ingredients in the grease often affect the colour. Some tend to be naturally pale, and these are often dyed by manufacturers to help operators to identify the correct grease, although this will depend on using Mobil greases exclusively, for example, because other manufacturers may use a different color-coding scheme. Dyed greases are also not suitable for some applications, such as paper mills, because of the risk of staining.

Greases based on certain ingredients, such as graphite, may appear black. In short, grease colour should never be relied on alone. If you have any doubt, always double check that you are using the correct product for the application at hand.

How often should you re-grease equipment and by how much?

Re-greasing equipment is an essential maintenance issue, but it can be tricky to get the quantity correct sometimes. It logically follows that under-greasing will lead to lubrication starvation and greater wear on equipment, but over-greasing can also cause the problem of overheating in some high-speed applications.

If the equipment manual does not specify anything about re-greasing frequency and quantity, you can try asking the equipment manufacturer directly. If you still cannot obtain any guidance about re-greasing, many Mobil distributors in the UK will be able to help you develop a re-greasing strategy based on factors such as grease type, equipment, operating and environmental conditions, and any external contaminants. You may also be able to refine your strategy further based on operating data and information gleaned from tear-down inspections.

Should you change oil to adapt to the different seasons?

When temperatures can vary widely between the seasons, it’s often common practice in industrial sectors to swap to and from a lower viscosity oil to compensate. Unfortunately, unless this coincides with a required oil change, it means extra downtime and additional cost due to wasted oil. Switching to oil with a high-viscosity index, such as the Mobil DTE 10 Excel Series hydraulic oils, can provide consistent protection over a wider temperature range, which may well remove the need for seasonal oil changes.

Can high-quality lubricants improve cold starts?

More energy is used during a cold start than any other part of the operating cycle, because the oil has not had the chance to warm up, and hydraulic pumps are particularly prone to failure at this point. Modern lubricants like the Mobil DTE 10 Excel Series of hydraulic oils can operate effectively at temperatures as low as 8°C, with some even providing a suitable viscosity at temperatures as low as -34°C.

Is it worth using high-quality lubricants on older equipment?

While you may be tempted to only invest in high-quality lubricants for your new equipment, many older machines can also benefit. Some modern lubricants have been shown to maintain system reliability for longer, meaning you can get more out of that older equipment for longer.

Is viscosity important in grease?

The viscosity of grease is not as immediately obvious as it is with lubricating oils because of its semisolid nature, yet grease is still mostly made from base oils, and viscosity is an important factor in determining the optimal product for an application.

Viscosity measures a fluid’s resistance to flow, and this is important in greases because you want a thick enough film to just prevent any metal-to-metal contacts. Too thin a film results in excessive wear, while too thick of a film causes additional drag, which means greater heat generation and lower efficiency.

If you try and visually assess the viscosity of grease, you’ll instead learn more about its consistency (which is not to be confused with viscosity, but you can learn more below). The simplest way to make sure you’re using a grease with the right viscosity is to check the technical information.

What about consistency in grease?

As mentioned above, the viscosity doesn’t affect the observable behaviour of greases like it does with liquid oil, yet some greases are clearly “thicker” than others. It may be tempting to think a “thicker” grease has a higher viscosity, but this thickness is actually the consistency. This is an entirely different physical property that is determined by the amount of thickening agent that is used in the formulation and measured according to the NLGI rating ranging from 000 (a soft consistency similar to that of cooking oil) to 6 (a very hard consistency similar to that of cheddar cheese). Mobil distributors in the UK often offer Mobil products with a choice of different NLGI ratings.

As with most lubricant properties, the required consistency will depend on the nature of the application. Thinner greases are easier to pump, while thicker greases tend to stay in place better and are inherently more resilient to high temperature and water washout. In many cases, picking the right consistency will be a balance between pumpability and having enough staying power for the particular operating conditions.

What else can Mobil distributors in the UK do for you?

The questions here are by no means an exhaustive list of what a Mobil distributor might be able to tell you. If you feel you may be able to benefit from improved lubrication, why not see what yours can do for you? Higher quality lubricants, for example, may come at a greater cost, but you may find this pays for itself in increased reliability, reduced maintenance, and improved uptime. Your distributor may also offer other lubrication services, such as operator training, oil condition monitoring, and lubrication surveys.

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