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Ensuring your operation runs like a well-oiled machine

Utilising its vast experience of serving the worldwide plastics sector, BFPA member Shell Lubricants has detailed four tips to effectively select, apply, and manage hydraulic oil products for your business.

Hydraulic fluid choice is a key consideration for plastics injection moulding operators. From securing peak efficiency to cutting significant costs by mitigating downtime risk, effective lubrication can help to protect the bottom line for businesses.

With that in mind, let’s look at some of the top tips for enhancing the power of lubrication in your injection moulding operation.

Top tip 1 – Reconsider the importance of lubricants: Frequent offenders such as corrosion, contamination, and wear are real challenges for today’s injection moulding machines. Many operators blame equipment when encountering problems, yet surveys indicate that 50 to 70 percent of equipment failures relate to ‘improper hydraulic fluid condition’.

Hydraulic fluid represents less than two percent of the overall operating cost of an injection moulding plant, although, optimising this small percentage could generate big results. For example, investing in a high-performance lubricant can enhance equipment protection while mitigating risks of costly breakdowns.

Top tip 2 – Adopt the best lubricant for your hydraulic system: Hydraulic systems need the right tools and materials for optimum performance especially in tough conditions, fluctuating temperatures, and high pressures. Prioritising lubrication within a balanced maintenance strategy will help to lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) in the long term, while helping machines reach peak operating conditions faster.

SMP Global, a leading plastic processing company, switched to hydraulic fluid Shell Tellus S4 ME. It achieved energy savings of 3.4 percent, shorter cycle times, and doubled its oil drain interval (ODI) which resulted in annual savings of over €50,650.

Top tip 3 – Utilise your provider’s lubricant-related services: Lubricant suppliers, such as Shell Lubricants, offer lubricant-related services to customers including Shell LubeChat, LubeAdvisor, LubeAnalyst, and more, to provide bespoke customer support.

From answering on-demand queries to advice from regional technical helpdesks or field-based engineers, plastic production plants can use Shell Lubricants’ services to help maximise equipment lifespans.

Alpha Group, a world leader in the development and production of plastic packaging, benefitted from Shell LubeAnalyst oil condition monitoring programme. Upgrading to hydraulic fluid Shell Tellus S3 M and utilising Shell LubeAnalyst, the company extended oil life from 5,000 to 15,000 hours, reduced equipment downtime and achieved annual savings of over USD$16,500.

Top tip 4 – Staff training and upskilling: For operators to maximise its benefits, employees need to adopt proper lubrication maintenance, and this can only come through the application of education and training. As new technologies come to the fore in operations, this is becoming increasingly important. Shell Lubricants has comprehensive training programmes, like Shell LubeCoach, which delivers a workshop-based course by technical experts.

These top tips are essential for lowering TCO and leveraging saved costs into innovation. While hydraulic fluid is a fraction of a plant’s maintenance budget, it can help contribute to savings far higher than the lubricant’s fee.

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