Protecting hydraulic control systems can be a precarious part of the plant maintenance process without the right knowledge and expertise. Incorrect application of oils, greases and lubricants can hinder productivity and damage valuable components of plant equipment. 

Hydraulic pumps transmit power and are the vital core components of any hydraulic system and importantly, they require the same level of protection as the heart of any machine system. 

Natural wear will occur with prolonged usage of the motors and pumps on mobile and stationary equipment, which can lead to repair issues, equipment failures and downtime if not given adequate attention. 

BSC National Product Manager for Lubricants, Steve Keown, speaks to the ways the team at BSC has worked in partnership with Viva Energy’s Shell Lubricants team to assemble on-site engineers for joint site calls to address challenges with selecting the correct lubrication for mobile and stationary hydraulic plant equipment.  

“Our objective on any site call is to understand the current state of the equipment and its service history,” says Steve. “From there, we gather requirements and look to design a more efficient and effective lubrication solution for optimising the performance of a hydraulic system, while at the same time, keeping operational costs reasonable.”  

“Some of the challenges with hydraulic oils are that temperature extremes vary by location,” he explains. “Any environmental exposure or ingress of abrasive materials and contaminants can impact the engineered components of a hydraulic tank’s breathing system.”

As a premium partner to BSC, Shell Tellus boasts a range of hydraulic fluids — some of the most advanced hydraulics lubrication technology on the global market. 

The Shell Tellus S2 series are high-performance, zinc-based, hydraulic fluids that can perform under high-heat or below freezing conditions, and range by viscosity with their ability to withstand varying temperatures. While the Shell Tellus S4 product was developed for particularly low temperature conditions that could be found in cold storage areas of a plant. 

“The Shell Tellus brand hydraulics fluids are all formulated with high water seperation characteristics and excellent viscosity for filterability,” explains Steve. “This enhances the protective qualities of the fluid and extends the life of the lubricant, and in turn, the hydraulic pump componentry.”

Hydraulic systems must stand up to continuous operation and are sometimes subject to long service intervals. This increases the likelihood of environmental impacts being overlooked, according to Steve. 

“The BSC team works to access the operating condition of hydraulic equipment by referring to the service history, the OEM requirements and subsequently implementing tools for predictive maintenance,” he says. “We want to detect minor issues before they scale into major failures.” 

Working with the Shell LubeAnalyst program is one way that BSC enables their customers to improve the current state of their hydraulics system and monitor the performance of oils and greases on their equipment long-term. 

On-site engineers retrieve oil samples from a piece of hydraulic equipment and send them for analysis at a Shell laboratory where samples are tested, analysed, and added to the Shell LubeAnalyst database. Customers are then forwarded a diagnostic report and recommendation for the right solution. 

Lubricant and oil analysts enable operators to correctly select the appropriate lubricant and oil, and then schedule routine monitoring of the equipment to warn of the potential issues. 

“If we see a trend in positive results through the analyst program and ongoing monitoring, at that stage we introduce the possibility of extending lubricant drain intervals,” says Steve. “This helps reduce cost of ownership. It also demonstrates the reliability of the Shell lubricant product.” 

The Shell website allows for customers to access lubricant selection guides and the Shell LubeAnalyst database publicly. For further details on the Shell LubeAnalyst program, the Viva Energy, Shell Lubricants Technical Help Desk offers over the phone assistance, or alternatively, a local BSC branch representative can assist with enrolment into the program.