As industrial machines become more sophisticated and tech-savvy by the day, manufacturers are changing their tactics.

To improve performance, reduce downtime and meet customer demands, they’re pushing their systems to greater limits than ever before.

This also means that suppliers are getting creative.

To deliver on customer expectations, they’re fine-tuning one oft-overlooked aspect of the assembly line: lubrication.

Industrial lubricants are critical to keeping all parts moving the way they should, but all products are not created equal.

With that in mind, here’s a quick guide to help you choose the right lubricant for your needs.

Choosing an Industrial Lubricant

While it sounds simple, selecting the proper industrial lubricant can be challenging.

Why?

Not only are there dozens of lubricant brands, but each industry also has its own set of regulations and standards that limit the kind you can use.

Before making your selection, it’s helpful to consult with a supplier, first.

These experts can help answer questions you may have about your specific application.

Baseline Features to Consider

Though there are many ways in which they can differ, all industrial lubricants must meet baseline criteria for performance. At a minimum, they must:

  • Reduce friction
  • Reduce overall wear
  • Protect against corrosion
  • Dissipate heat
  • Provide a sealed effect

While these are standard characteristics of an industrial lubricant, your needs may require features above and beyond this list.

Your individual operating conditions and manufacturing processes will dictate the functionality you require.

General-Purpose vs. Synthetic Lubricants

Before you get ahead of yourself the selection process, your industrial lubricant provider should ask you one essential question: Do you want a general-purpose solution or a synthetic one?

If you plan to maintain your equipment’s lubrication regularly, a general-purpose solution will work.

If you want to lubricate the equipment once and have it last a long time without touch-ups, a synthetic version would be preferred.

To understand the difference between the two, let’s slide into the makeup of each.

General-Purpose Lubricants

The term “industrial lubricant” encompasses a range of products, including greases, oils, waxes or pastes. Their primary ingredients include:

  • Grease: A mixture of lubricating base oils and soap to thicken
  • Oil: 95% base oil (usually mineral oil) plus 5% in additives
  • Wax: Water, synthetic hydrocarbons and an emulsifying agent
  • Paste: Base oils, lubricant particles and additives

A common selection, most general-purpose oils contain mineral oil distillates derived from crude oil, such as petroleum.

Synthetic Lubricants

When you need an industrial lubrication application that lasts, synthetic solutions get the job done. Two of the most common are polyalphaolefins (PAOs) and synthetic esters.

Developers use other compounds to produce these synthetic lubricants artificially, making them more powerful and longer-lasting than their counterparts.

The result? It isn’t petroleum oil. Rather, synthetic solutions are clearer and more uniform, providing an uptick in:

When your supplier suggests a synthetic lubricant, it’s because your application requires a solution with mechanical and chemical properties superior to mineral oils.

If you plan to go back and re-lubricate as required, a general-purpose version will work if it meets the baseline features listed above.

Benefits of Synthetic Lubricants

Choosing to lubricate a machine for life is a step in the right direction.

When you go this route, your supplier should point you toward synthetic lubricants. This is because base lubricant oils are well-equipped to handle long-term wear and tear, because of:

  • Chemical stability
  • Lower levels of evaporation loss
  • Powerful viscosity performance at low and high temperatures
  • Reduced friction
  • Reduced wear
  • Ability to resist oil sludge issues
  • Extended chain intervals

Love synthetic lubricants, but you’re on the fence about the cost? Consider the lifespan of the product.

Both synthetic and specialty lubricants can last up to five years longer than general-purpose ones depending on the quality of the base oil used.

Making the Right Decision

With so many options at your fingertips, the key to choosing the best industrial lubricant is to determine the base oil viscosity you need.

Before they can send you to the right selection, your supplier will ask a series of questions to learn more about your question. These include:

  • Is the operating speed fixed or variable?
  • What kind of friction does it use? Sliding or rolling?
  • What are the normal workload and workplace operating conditions?
  • Are there any industry standards that mandate which lubricant you should use?

Be thorough and specific in your answers to help make sure the right product travels home with you. During this interview process, it’s common for equipment owners to forget tiny details that can make a big difference.

Resist the urge to let price be your final deciding factor. While synthetic lubricants cost more than general-purpose ones, the return is more than worth the investment, helping your business enjoy:

  • Less downtime
  • Lower operating costs
  • A more proficient workforce
  • Energy efficiency
  • Increased and improved output

Find the Right Industrial Lubricant Today

Before you can choose the right industrial lubricant, you must first find a supplier you trust.

Our team of professionals will assess your situation, understand your application and help you choose the right solution for your needs.

If you’re looking for new machining grease or oil for your workplace, you’ve come to the right place.

All the products in our legendary TW25B® synthetic lubricant series provide top-of-the-line performance, reliability and durability.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help keep your machines running.