Hans Wildeboer, Product Application Specialist (PAS) for Heavy Duty Transmission Oils
How would you describe your role in Shell?
I am a product application specialist (PAS) for Heavy Duty Transmission Oils. I hold a BAS degree in Automotive Engineering and joined Shell in the Netherlands in 1979. I have held a variety of positions in sales and technical support for automotive lubricants in segments ranging from Construction to Agriculture and Truck and Bus Fleets and the Original Engine Manufacturers (OEMs) highway lubricants sector.
As such, I serve as Shell’s Technical Focal Point to OEMs of agriculture and construction equipment and to OEMs producing transmission components for these sectors.
What can lubricants do to protect construction machinery and other equipment?
If the right lubricants are used, significant savings can be generated by lowering overall operating and maintenance costs. With the latest ‘synthetic’ technology, lubricants can deliver enhanced protection and greater equipment availability. This can be supported by oil condition monitoring through a service such as Shell LubeAnalyst. This enables proactive and predictive maintenance, minimising breakdowns, providing peace of mind even when extending oil drain intervals and contributing to cost savings.
How should maintenance engineers choose their oil?
What every maintenance engineer wants to be certain of when using an oil, is that it does the basic job of providing protection to the engine, driveline and other moving parts. Construction, in particular, faces the need to keep heavy-duty equipment working often in extreme temperatures, remote locations and rough terrain machine failure, and the associated downtime, can result in significant costs. The highest quality synthetic lubricants on the market today can offer greater reliability and much more, from longer lasting equipment protection to reduced fuel consumption, and potentially operational costs, therefore delivering tangible business benefits.
For example, during a dam construction project, one Shell customer had to frequently replace excavator bucket pins and bushes. Maintenance costs and unplanned downtime were escalating. Our experts assessed the situation and recommended using Shell Gadus S3 V460D grease, which resulted in reported savings of US$3,800,000 through a 28 per cent reduction in operating costs.
What is the benefit of using synthetic lubricants instead of mineral-based ones in construction equipment?
Mineral base oils are complex mixtures of naturally-occurring hydrocarbons and may contain impurities. For some mineral oils, the lighter, volatile elements can evaporate from hot surfaces, leaving deposits in vulnerable areas like piston-ring zones and leave the oil too thick to flow to where it is needed. In comparison, synthetic lubricants are made from base oils, which contain compounds that were not in the original crude oil, but were ‘synthesised’ (i.e. man-made). Additives are mixed with the synthetic base oil to improve its performance. Depending on the product, additives can account for one to 30 per cent of the lubricant and achieving the right blend is what sets a quality lubricant apart from its competitors.
How does the additive technology help the engine to perform better?
These additives help maintain protective oil films, while the synthetic base oil is more resistant to thinning at high temperatures. Together they keep components and moving parts clean and free from deposits, helping them to stay in optimal condition. What this means is that the equipment does not have to work as hard for the same output and the amount of fuel consumed is reduced, but the equipment still receives the high-level of protection it needs from the oil.
A good example is Shell Mysella gas-engine oils, which is designed to minimise deposit build-up and to keep the engine clean, even in the latest generation of high-output engines that operate in very severe conditions with very high piston temperatures and pressures. With energy prices at increasingly high levels and environmental considerations ever present, lubricants are a component in the overall value chain and can have an important and positive impact on efficiency, emissions and productivity.
What are the latest techniques to test lubricants?
The latest scientific techniques for lubricants employ wear model and simulation tests, ‘smart’ laboratory screening and extensive performance prediction models – all of these are designed to simulate the performance of lubricants in the real world. Through testing, Shell scientists can build a more detailed understanding of the physical characteristics and demands placed on modern-day oils, in turn shaping our product development pathways.
Of course every new lubricant is also extensively tested in the field to prove its reliability and gain the equipment and component-manufacturers support and approval before it is brought to the market.
Do better quality lubricants make that much of a difference?
Reported savings, both from operators internationally and rigorous field trials, suggest that they do. For example, a constructor operator in Canada called Sureway Construction, which uses heavy-duty equipment for construction and earth moving in a temperature range of -25°C to +40°C, recently switched to an advanced synthetic lubricant (the transmission fluid Shell Spirax S6 CXME 10W-40). This reduced their oil consumption, increased productivity through less downtime and decreased maintenance costs, which delivered reported annual cost savings of over US$140,000.
The latest generation of lubricants offers measurable performance enhancements, efficiencies and optimised equipment availability. As many operators have discovered, using a high quality lubricant can add value to your operation by helping to avoid premature wear and protect your bottom line through reduced maintenance and repair costs.