Whatever Makes the World Go Round, Lubricants Keep it Spinning
Machinery and mechanical equipment of all types require lubrication to protect their components from the detrimental effects of friction. These lubricants are tailored to the job that needs doing and as such, there are several types.
Using the wrong product can damage your machinery and potentially void your warranty, so it’s good to know when to use grease and when use oils for lubrication. To help you know which lubricant is right for your business, Crown Oil has put together this guide to explain the various aspects of greases and lubricants that you need to know.
Grease, lubricating oil, lubricant – what’s the difference?
While there are many similarities between them, lubricating grease and lubricating oil are each a different type of lubricant. And although lubricants come as water-based, mineral oil-based (ie deriving from crude oil) and synthetic-based lubricants, at Crown Oil we supply mineral oil-based lubricants and greases, so we’ll focus on those.
Like the name suggests, mineral oil-based grease and lubricants have similar structures, namely:
A base oil with good all-round lubricating properties
Additives specific to the oil’s function
The additives allow the lubricating oil to have properties that will enable the lubricant to function in the specific environment it will be put to work in. Among others, these properties will include:
Grease is a semi-solid lubricant that is produced with a base oil as well as extra additives to give it the properties it requires. Grease is an essential component of all aspects of engineering due to its defining property that when placed under shear, it behaves in a way that has approximately the same viscosity as the base oil used in the product.
So what makes lubricating grease?
Additives (dependent on the grease’s use)
The addition of the thickener is what differentiates a lubricating oil from a lubricating grease. The thickening agent is useful as it forms a thick layer between moving parts, preventing wear and tear.
Grease shares the same additives as oil, however, it needs protection from it’s ‘dropping point’ – the upper temperature at which the grease retains its structure, after which it loses its plasticity and starts behaving more like an oil. This causes the grease to drip, causing a leak and requiring frequent re-lubrication.
Uses of lubricating greases and oils
Lubricants are used in almost every industry, so you’ll always come across them. Here’s a quick list of some applications of the two:
Moving mechanical parts
Advantages of lubricating oil:
While grease and oil have similarities and can be interchangeable, they have their own use cases and there are times when lubricating oil is preferable over grease. So why use lubricating oils?
When you need heat transfer from the lubricant to the outside of the system
When the machinery requires a central oil supply that can lubricate multiple parts of the machine at once
To lubricate machinery that requires frequent, constant lubrication
To lubricate components that move at high speeds
To lubricate machine parts that are easily accessible.
Advantages of lubricating grease:
To ensure machines/components that are not in use all the time will be lubricated when they are needed
To lubricate inaccessible parts as well as parts that are sealed for life, such as in gearboxes and other complex moving parts
To lubricate machinery that moves at low speed
To lubricate machine parts that require operating at extreme conditions, such as high pressure, high temperature, under high load etc.
To protect worn components and extend the life of parts previously lubricated by oil
When to use oil or grease for lubricating?
As we can tell from the advantages that both oil and grease have, there are times where one is more appropriate than the other.
Choose lubricating oil if you require:
Low friction lubrication
Under low strain
Efficient heat transfer
Choose lubricating grease if you need:
To only lubricate infrequently, or just the once
A machine that is used infrequently to stay lubricated and be lubricated at short notice
To lubricate components under extreme conditions
The wide application of lubricants means there are specialised types of lubricant for every use – here are a few of the lubricants that Crown Oil supplies:
Marine lubricants – These are optimised for use in the marine sector, so they offer high water resistance and high salt resistance
Industrial lubricants – Our mechanical lubricants and mechanical greases are designed to reduce friction between metal parts
Metalworking fluids – Crown Oil’s metalwork lubricants are designed to maximise sump life, reduce costs, extend tool life while also improving the surface finish of your goods
Automotive lubricants – ranging from transmission oil to crankcase lubricants, these lubrication oils enhance performance, reliability and durability by reducing the amount of friction and wear in the engine at both the cold start and during normal operating temperatures
Agricultural lubricants – agricultural machinery leads a demanding life and these greases and lubricants are optimised for keeping your farm equipment running as you need it
Food grade lubricants – food processing requires greases and lubricants that are non-toxic and food-safe products that are National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) and InS registered (for H1, incidental contact with food applications). These lubricants may also need to meet Kosher, Pareve or Halal standards
Commercial lubricants – Aimed at businesses, this range of lubricants is designed to help your commercial enterprise run smoothly
Hydraulic oil – Oils used in hydraulic systems are also lubricants. We’ve written up a guide explaining hydraulic oils here for you to learn more
Are you using your lubricants correctly?
When it comes to lubricants, using the right product for your equipment and machinery is key, but the method in which they are used is equally as important. Using lubricants properly will ensure your machinery benefits from a longer lifetime and reduced running costs. Failing to implement proper lubrication management can negatively impact the performance of equipment, increase operational costs, or even force you to replace machinery. For tips on how to use your lubricants properly, read our eight rules to lubrication management, or speak to a member of the Crown Oil team today.
Want a free lubricant health check?
Want to make sure your current lubrication solution is up to scratch? If so, we can send a technician to your site to determine if your lubricants are in good condition and recommend an alternative if necessary. The process is entirely free, so why not get in touch today?
Crown Oil is a nationwide bulk supplier of lubricants and greases, but we can also supply in smaller quantities including 205-litre barrels. To learn more about our range of lubricating oils and lubricating greases, contact our knowledgeable team on 0330 123 1444 today.