It’s the 21st century… so why is your plant still using 19th-century lubricants?
Chances are you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about lubricants. Hardly anyone does, until something starts seizing, stretching, or breaking down. Only then does the absence of lubricant become glaringly obvious. By then, it’s too late. The damage is done, and production has to be shut down while the part is repaired or replaced. This means extra costs for labor, material, and lost production. Even a fifteen-minute shutdown can mean thousands in lost profits.
Next-generation lubricants help to avoid this by prolonging equipment life as long as scientifically possible. New lubricant technology moves beyond traditional petroleum-based lubes–which have been in use for over 150 years–to lubes that contain solid particles. Once the liquid carrying agent evaporates, the solids are left behind. So, why are solids better lubricators than liquids? After all, everyone knows wet things are more slippery than dry things.
That was true until the discovery of petro tetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). PTFE has a coefficient of friction just above that of wet ice. It is the slipperiest dry substance in the world, which makes it ideal for use in industrial lubricants. It can even be formulated to adhere to food safety guidelines, so it can be used throughout the food packaging and processing industry.
PTFE on its own won’t stick any longer than a petroleum-based lube, so it needs to be specially treated. The newest generation of lubricants does this in two ways: it micronizes the particles to as small as .05 microns, or hundreds of times smaller than a human hair; and it polarizes them, so that they carry a negative charge for stronger bonding with surfaces.
We call this technology MicPol®, and it’s revolutionizing the way people think about lubrication forever.
These micronized lubricant particles are so small that they can penetrate into the tiniest of spaces. The advantage this confers is massive. Most chain lubricants, for example, will coat the outside of plates and rollers, but practically nothing makes it into the innermost parts, where metal-on-metal contact takes place between bushing and pin, rollers, and side plates. This contact causes rapid wear, which in turn results in chain stretch, or the appearance of the chain getting longer. (The chain is not actually stretching. Tiny gaps appear between components, adding a bit of play to each link and resulting in overall elongation.) Micronization allows the lubricant to penetrate between pins, bushings, and rollers, so that no more metal-on-metal contact takes place. The result is that chain life is extended by several times.
Polarization offers a far stronger lubricant life, because the adhesion that takes place between the negative lubricant particles and the positive particles on surfaces is extremely strong. Documentation exists to show that polarized lubricants can stay up to ten times as long as traditional or ordinary (i.e. old-fashioned) lubricants. While PTFE itself has no dipole and therefore cannot hold a charge, it is a component in proprietary formulations that do.
Once dry, these new lubes create a clear, solid, non-sticky film, which offers two more great advantages: it refuses particle adhesion, and it repels water. This means that the dreaded abrasive paste so common with sticky lubes won’t occur, and the formation of rust will be greatly reduced, if not prevented altogether.
How do they work in practice? Let’s take a poultry processing facility as an example. The kill floor requires daily sanitizing with high-pressure hot water spray and chemical sanitizers. There is also hot water involved in the kill process itself. This means that the bearings, of which there can be thousands in larger operations, are subject to a regular barrage of water. Even sealed bearings will eventually rust. In any given month, dozens if not hundreds of bearings on feather pickers will need to be replaced due to rust. Chains and rollers, meanwhile, also become rusty and clogged with feathers, which have to be manually removed. Next-gen PTFE lubes will actually penetrate past the seal on sealed bearings and coat the entire inside of the mechanism, bonding electrostatically to the bearings and the race. Any rust already there will be broken up. If applied to the bearing when new, these modern lubes will prevent rust from forming and prolong the bearing life by several times. Plants that were replacing bearings on average every few weeks can now go as long as six or eight months. Chains are lasting six or eight times as long as they once did. And those pesky feathers, which get into everything, no longer have anything to stick to. Everything moves smoothly for much longer.
Of course, poultry processing is just one example. Next-gen lubricants can be used anywhere in any industry!
These micronized and polarized lubricants come in a variety of formats, including aerosol sprays, oils of varying viscosity, and thick greases. This means they can be used on a variety of applications and situations, such as open gears, cold weather or outdoor operations, very hot or high pressure applications… they can even be immersed in seawater.
What about environmental concerns? Sustainability, or environmental impact, is becoming a large issue for manufacturing facilities, and rightly so. After all, we didn’t inherit the earth from our ancestors–we’re borrowing it from our grandchildren. The use of next-gen lubes means vastly less oil being consumed and going through plant filtration systems, and perhaps leaking into groundwater. They are safe for human contact, and are available in formulations that can be used on machines coming into direct contact with food.
These modern lubricants are not yet commonly used in North America, but they’ve been marketed to industry in Europe since 1980. If your plant is looking for new ways to cut costs, exploring next-generation lubes is a great place to start.
Call us today at (877) 346-5823 to learn how Interflon lubricants with MicPol® can change the way you think about lubrication forever!