Minimizing Downtime and Maximizing Equipment Life in Plastics Operations

by on August 4, 2016 5 Comments

PlasticInjection-GreenMachine-080416-v1ncHeavy-duty plastics machinery and equipment – extruders, blow molders, injection molders and the like – rely on the effective performance of hydraulic systems. And the life blood of a hydraulic system is a high-quality lubricant.

In large scale operations, such as auto parts fabrication, machines are running hard and continuously, six or seven days a week. Downtime is costly and can have repercussions up and down the supply chain. Quality control is essential, too. Reject parts can impact productivity and hit the bottom line.

In this kind of environment, high-quality lubrication is critical, not only to maximize uptime, but also to make sure equipment is performing as it’s supposed to and producing quality parts. The challenge is that the sheer intensity of continuous operation is tough on hydraulic oil. Heat and high pressure can cause oil to degrade rapidly. Oxidation leads to varnish buildup, deposits and leakage that can cause equipment to perform poorly or fail altogether.

Plastics machinery manufacturers have long recognized that cleaner oil results in fewer problems and damage claims – which is why their ISO cleanliness code recommendations are extremely stringent. Plant operators may not always be aware of the cleanliness of oil going into their equipment, but it is worth paying attention to manufacturers’ recommendations to avoid downtime, repair and replacement costs.

There are a number of steps plant operators can take to maintain cleaner hydraulic systems. Proper storage and sealing of drums or bulk tanks is essential to keep dirt and plant dust out of the oil. When transferring fluids into a machine’s oil reservoir, take care to avoid spillage or having particles enter the system via an open reservoir. Routine oil sampling and analysis from a single point will tell you if you have dangerous levels of contaminants in the system. Equipment should also be fitted with good filtration systems to minimize contamination as oil flows from the reservoir into the cylinders.

Of course, much of the risk can be mitigated by starting with a certified clean oil in the first place. Ashless synthetic oils have proven particularly effective in hydraulic systems. Where ‘zinc’ tends to break down and form deposits, ashless lubricants generally have a longer life. Ashless synthetic oils flow more easily at low temperatures, reducing friction, and experience less viscosity loss as temperatures rise, providing wear protection. They also can help reduce the risk of deposits and corrosion of hoses.

Ashless synthetic oils have the potential to produce energy savings as well. At Chevron, we tested our Clarity® ashless synthetic oil in a plastic injection molding machine and saw a 4 percent drop in energy consumption compared to the previous oil.

Ensuring hydraulic systems are in optimal working order for plastics machinery has a direct bearing on profitability and the ROI in equipment. Starting with a high-quality, certified clean hydraulic oil and following proper handling practices should go a long way toward minimizing unplanned downtime, extending equipment longevity, and sustaining production quality.


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About the Author ()

With over 35 years in the oil and gas industry, Dan Holdmeyer has worked for Chevron the past 14 years, serving in a variety of capacities with the company in addition to his current post as Industrial and Coolants Brand Manager where he works as a lubrication engineer that supports Chevron Delo and other related lubricants brands. He plays an integral role in supporting and managing a variety of programs related to off-highway and on-highway lubrication needs. Dan also works as Chevron’s Training Specialist for their Global Lubricants division since joining the company. Prior to joining Chevron, Dan worked as a Field Engineer at Mobil Oil Corporation for 20 years (1979-99) after graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering.

Comments (5)

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  1.' mdunn says:

    what about high VI oils in these applications? How does that contribute to the equations?

  2. Jason Gerig says:

    High VI oils are great for this high temperature application to maintain viscosity. Chevron Clarity Synthetic Hydraulic Oils have a high VI and highly recommended for this application.

  3.' Honey says:

    I’m so glad I found my soiuoltn online.

  4.' mdunn says:

    What is the recommendation for sampling intervals to monitor lubricant and machine conditions when used in conjunction with ongoing kidney loupe filtration?

    • Dan Holdmeyer says:

      Hi mdunn, You will want to keep your sampling interval the same for your particular piece of machinery, with or without the kidney loop filtration- except consider a more frequent sampling interval when you first hook up your kidney loop filtration to how effective it is, either removing particulate, i.e. particle counting, or wear metal decrease.


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