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Food grade lubricant: The Importance of following manufacturer recommendations

09 January 2017

The theory that one single lubricant will suffice for all food manufacturing equipment is misguided, according to Roger Locke. 

It is usual for a manufacturer to list the type of lubricant that they recommend in the maintenance manual for each piece of their equipment and it is important that is acted upon by the end user of the equipment. Manufacturers guidelines on oil viscosity and grease consistency are given to ensure maximum service life, optimum performance and longevity for both the equipment and lubricant.

Using a higher viscosity lubricant to the one recommended – such as an ISO 680 gear oil instead of an ISO 320 gear oil – raises the possibility of more drag on the gears, resulting in an increase in energy requirements to drive the gearbox. 

In addition, if the gearbox is using a splash type system of lubrication, gears at the top of the unit may not receive their full quota of oil because the increased viscosity will make splash transfer less likely to deliver the oil to the required area.

Using a lower viscosity grade gear oil can also be problematic as it reduces the lubricant film thickness at the point of contact and creates the possibility of metal-to-metal contact, which means there is a risk of gear wear and a reduction in gearbox life.

While modern fully synthetic oils will be less susceptible to viscosity changes with temperature alterations, it is still advisable to stick to the recommended viscosity to ensure maximum lubrication performance and lubricant life.

Roger Locke is business development manager for the FUCHS CASSIDA range of food grade lubricants.

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