Operating a profitable machine shop is hard work. You need to deliver products on time, on budget, and to your customer’s specifications while juggling responsibilities that include contract development, training staff, and managing supplier relationships. Having an equipment maintenance strategy that prioritizes equipment reliability can go a long way toward enhancing your business success. And the best equipment maintenance strategies are anchored by an effective lubrication program that incorporates both high-quality hydraulic oils and impactful technical services such as used-oil analysis.

High-performance hydraulic oils

There is a misconception that the only difference between hydraulic oils is price. Hydraulic oils can vary significantly in quality depending on their formulation. Make sure you are using a high performance hydraulic oil formulated specifically to protect your cutting-machine equipment from challenging operating conditions. For example, hydraulic oils with a balanced formulation can help protect equipment from challenges associated with:

  • Water contamination, which can lead to corrosion, blocked filters, or pump wear
  • Varnish formation, which can lead to sticking valves
  • Deposit formation inside of the system

What characteristics should you look for when deciding on which oil to use? Here are some key considerations:

  • Viscosity/viscosity index – A lubricant’s viscosity is its resistance to flow, or the thickness of the film layer produced to prevent contact with surface metals. A lubricant’s viscosity index measures the change in lubricant viscosity due temperature. A good hydraulic oil will be formulated to maintain proper viscosity at both high and low operating temperatures.
  • Wear resistance – Anti-wear additives are critical in any hydraulic oil formulation, by extending component life and improving production capacity.
  • Look for hydraulic oils formulated with advanced additives offering exceptional anti-wear.
  • Oxidation stability – This measures a lubricant’s ability to withstand oxidation. Oxidation creates sludge and results in component wear and corrosion, which greatly reduces the life of the fluid and equipment. Hydraulic oils should be formulated with specific additives that can resist oxidation.
  • Anti-foaming – Foaming of the hydraulic oil is not desired, as it can lead to entrained air. Entrained air bubbles can cause extreme localized heating of the hydraulic fluid, resulting in nitrogen fixation that – when combined with oxidation – can form deposits that plug oil filters and cause servo valves to stick. To mitigate this, elect an advanced hydraulic oil formulated with anti-foam additives.
  • Corrosion resistance – Resistance to corrosion, particularly in the presence of water. Rusting can occur as water carried by oils impacts metal components, threatening long-term equipment performance. Use hydraulic oils formulated with the right additives to mitigate corrosion.

Numerous performance characteristics determine the effectiveness of your hydraulic oil, which is why it’s important to use an oil that has a balanced formulation. ExxonMobil’s Mobil DTE family of hydraulic oils have a balanced formulation of high-quality base oils and a robust additive package. By selecting such an oil, you can help reduce unscheduled equipment downtime, saving your shop substantial maintenance, servicing, and personnel costs.

Oil analysis services

In addition to using the right oils, conducting used oil analysis is a great way to help enhance the longevity of equipment. Using oil analysis data can help identify potential problems at their earliest stages, enabling better understanding of equipment performance.

With oil analysis results in hand, machine shop personnel can adjust their maintenance program as needed to increase productivity of their machining equipment and prevent unexpected equipment downtime.

Advanced oil analysis can provide helpful insights, including reviews and documentation to validate used oil analysis results. These insights can also help explain and guide implementation of remediation steps, ensuring you fully understand the used oil analysis results and can take proper actions to keep operations safe and productive.

Consulting suppliers

If you haven’t already consulted with your supplier on effective ways to maintain your equipment, then you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity. By leveraging decades of experience working with leading equipment builders, lubricant suppliers can help provide insight into lubricant programs – including products and services – that best suit your operation’s needs.

For example, after analyzing your equipment’s operating conditions and specifications, your supplier can identify the hydraulic oils formulated to meet your specific needs. You can also take advantage of suppliers’ highly trained experts, who can help execute technical services such as oil analysis or service changes in order to optimize equipment performance. Suppliers also can offer technical training to your staff to ensure they are knowledgeable and updated about their equipment.

In sum, between using the right product, taking advantage of critical services and leveraging the expertise of your partners, optimizing your lubrication program can have a big impact on the performance of your equipment. To get the most out of your equipment and help your machine shop be as productive as possible, connect with your lubricant supplier to see how you may be able to further optimize your lubrication approach.

ExxonMobil Fuels & Lubricants


About the author: Alan Suan started his career with Mobil Oil in 1989 as an environmental engineer . He is now America’s Industrial Advisor for ExxonMobil Fuels, Lubricants & Specialties Marketing Co. in Spring, Texas. For more information visit: www.mobilindustrial.com.