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Cross-referencing different foodgrade lubricants

Cross-referencing different foodgrade lubricants

A short guide to maximising foodgrade lubricant performance and value for money

Activate Lubricants are privileged to work with many skilled and experienced engineers who understand the risks and challenges associated with the use of machine lubricants in the food production environment.

However, we are increasingly seeing buyers who have no tribological background, or even a basic understanding of lubrication, being given the unenviable task of having to attempt to rationalise and simplify products to save costs.

This short guide has been written to help you avoid inadvertently stripping value out of lubrication and focus on securing a compliant, optimised and cost-effective foodgrade solution.

Contact us to arrange a free GAP analysis for your food production site >

 

Tip 1 - Compare apples to apples

The first challenge is due to the variety of base oils used in the manufacture of foodgrade lubricants. These split into a number of categories and range from Group 2 Base Oils which are a basic foodgrade medicinal white oil and cost around £600 per tonne, right up to Group 4 synthetic PAO’s at £4000 per tonne and then specialist group 5 base oils, including silicones, synthetic esters and glycols that can cost up to £7000 per tonne.

Not only do the higher grades perform better than the more basic but, based on our experience and industry-accepted tests, they also last 10 times longer.

 

Tip 2 - Look at ‘value’, not ‘cost’

Over the years, we have witnessed first-hand many catastrophic failures as a direct result of products being swapped out for ‘cheaper’ alternatives that do not have the capability to effectively lubricate components.

When you consider that the lubrication cost within an engineering budget is typically well below 1%, it is foolhardy to take these risks. Most food manufacturers push their equipment at least to the OEM’s limit and often well beyond. It therefore makes sound commercial and engineering sense to provide the equipment with best possible lubrication protection in this situation.

Many food manufacturers list failures to rotating equipment in their top 5 breakdowns. Motors, bearings, gearboxes, pumps and fans.

 

Tip 3 - Don’t forget greases and aerosols

Rationalising and cross-referencing greases is even more complex than fluids. The base oil makes up typically 80-90% of a grease, the rest is made up of grease soaps. Some grease soaps are not compatible with other soaps and some base oils are not compatible with each other; some base oils might cost £600 per tonne and some might cost £4000 per tonne. It is very easy to focus on price without understanding the total cost of ownership and potential commercial harm caused by the use of an inferior or incompatible product.

Aerosols are also a challenge because, once again, the base oil could be a basic white oil at £600 per tonne or a fully synthetic Group 4 at £3000 per tonne. In addition to this, whilst the aerosol may state it contains 400ml, this includes a mixture of base oil, solvent, and propellent. Without knowing the composition of these actual ingredients, it is impossible to cross-reference different brands.

The true value and total cost of ownership is often lost in an attempt to ‘save money’.

 

Tip 4 - Know your limits when cross-referencing

We are often asked to produce Cross Reference Guides to assist companies when changing over from one brand to another. To do this effectively without introducing any risks in the process, buyers need a deep understanding of tribology, best practise lubrication techniques and compliance, legal and audit requirements, along with many years’ experience in the practical field.

Points that have to be given due consideration include speed, load, temperature range, historic challenges, performance issues, methods of application, washdown procedure, resistance to chemicals, polymer types, oil types, and compatibility.

It’s all about identifying best performance and value to ensure maximum efficiency and protect against downtime.

 

Tip 5 - Choose your lubrication partner wisely

It is absolutely critical that your lubrication partner can demonstrate a thorough understanding and expertise in all areas in order to safely transition your site to a single source and guarantee audit compliance.

Activate is the only company in the UK to focus solely on foodgrade lubricants. Our team has unrivalled expertise and practical experience in this field and is able to assist with any rationalisation and compliance questions. Contact us to arrange a free GAP analysis for your food production site >

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