Lowering the cost of ownership with the correct lubricant

Shell prides itself in being a company rich in collaboration, with this evident in its immense testing that is placed upon its Shell Rimula Heavy Duty lubricants. The company has collaborated with a number of OEMs and transport operators to truly understand not only the future vision of emission standards set by the manufacturers and various legislations, but taking into consideration the challenges that transport operators face across all global conditions.

The majority of manufactures and transport operators cite increasing pressure from calls for lower CO2 emissions by government legislation as the key influencing factor in ensuring that vehicles and operations quickly conform to these standards. The resultant benefits of this come in the form of greater fuel economy, directly influencing a decrease in the total cost of vehicle ownership. Not only is this better for the environment, but with impending CO2 taxes on the horizon, it is better to be equipped earlier than to face the harsh penalties once the statute takes full effect.

This impending dilemma has seen engine manufacturers undertaking costly R&D in order to significantly decrease CO2 emissions, and this is evident with the introduction of newer and better Euro emissions standards among popular European manufacturers. Most prevalent is the decrease in engine capacity with the addition of internal boost coming in the form of turbocharging methods. This configuration not only ensures greater engine performance and lower emissions, but with the increase in internal pressures, the internal temperatures too increase significantly. Without proper component lubrication, the engine will undoubtedly fail in the long-term, and will not provide sufficient protection and longevity as before. It is for this reason that with the future of the transportation industry in mind, Shell, together with its collaborators, has developed the ultimate in heavy duty engine protection, Shell Rimula.

Speaking at the recent Shell Rimula Ultimate Stopover event in Dubai, Richard Tucker, General Manager of Shell B2B Lubricants and Supply Chain Technology, stated that by the year 2050, the world would require 70% more energy than currently produced for transport alone. As such, Tucker believes that the key to ensuring a favourable future in the energy and transport space lies in innovation, application, and partnerships, each of which drive the latest advances in lubricant technology.

And while Shell Lubricants’ Total Cost of Ownership Survey highlights that only a mere 8% of transport operators believe that the correct lubricant can reduce the total cost of vehicle ownership by more than 25%, over half have admitted that errors in lubrication have had a direct influence on vehicle breakdowns. Moreover, one in three of these operators estimate that this unplanned downtime has cost their businesses in excess of $100 000. The solution that Shell Rimula has provided to its fleet customers globally has exceeded $21 million, making the selection of the correct lubricant for the job of vital importance in reducing cost of ownership.

“It is for this reason that we as a leading lubricant supplier decided to not only make claims of our achievements and superiority of product, but to actually prove its effectiveness across a number of conditions and landscapes,” says Tucker

Testing took place across multiple global climates and conditions including in United States, Europe and China. South Africa as a predominantly European manufacturer market, would particularly benefit from the findings of the European study, which showcased that the correct lubricant can have a direct correlation to greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions.

Ensuring that the conditions exceeded even specifications set by manufacturers, Shell Rimula sent samples to ATP Automotive Testing grounds in Papenburg, Germany, a manufacturer-independent facility that performs testing and analysis across multiple vehicle brands and automotive equipment.

Frank Machatschek, Shell Europe’s Product Application Specialist for Heavy Duty Engine Oil, says, “There, Shell Rimula was put to a fuel economy test, and by making use of six different trucks and six different lubricants, the testing team was able to perform a number of tests to showcase which lubricant sample offered superior lubricating results across all patterns of driver behaviour. What made the testing even more interesting was that all samples were unmarked, meaning that only post the analysis findings would the facility know which lubricant sample was used.”

Ensuring that each sample was not contaminated by another, over 144 oil changes and flushing rides were performed which involved in excess of 2 800 personnel resource hours and over 20 000 litres of diesel consumed.

Concluding the two and a half year research procedure, Shell Rimula products saw over 36 450 km of distance covered, 216 oil/truck combinations, working with 18 diesel engine variants, over eight engine oils tested ranging from 20W-50 to the low viscosity 0W-20, and 1 296 fuel economy tests to ensure that Shell Rimula not only meets but exceeds the requirements that are needed by both manufacturers and the industry at large.

The field trials showed that lubricant selection had a significant impact on fuel economy in real-world driving conditions. For example, compared with a market reference SAE 10W-40 oil, an SAE 5W-30 API FA-4 type oil resulted in a statistically significant fuel economy benefit of 3,01% over the combined urban driving cycles. The North American and European markets, with more stringent emission standards than Asia, experienced great results in fuel savings of up to 3,9% when making use of a 0W-20 lubricant as opposed to the conventional 15W-40.

Dr Jason Brown, Shell Global Technology Manager, Diesel Engine Oils Research & Development Programme, Heavy Duty Engine Oils, says, “It is important to consider the durability of the parts, as the lower the viscosity the harder it is to prevent friction in the engine, and this was a key measure as to the formulas that we develop. We can always make thinner lubricants, but we need them to provide the right durability to provide the right engine performance.

“We as Shell believe that the key to an optimal lubricant should present a balance between efficiency and durability, and should allow for a low viscosity makeup which will prolong an engine’s lifespan in conjunction with allowing for extended drain intervals all while the engine operates at higher internal pressures.”

Shell Rimula has recently achieved an extended oil drain service interval of 200 000 km while making use of its latest API FA-4 5W-30 lubricant and, more recently, the team surpassed this by recording another extended drain interval at 237 000 km, greatly surpassing recommended OEM specifications while the lubricant’s protection properties remained unscathed, and further emphasised its ability to optimise engine performance and economy.

“The results obtained from the used oil data illustrated excellent viscosity and wear control over the extended oil drain period, which showed a 5 to 10% increase in viscosity control after the suggested ODI recommendation,” says Brown.

“Further, the data presented a 14% increase after the 237 000 km mark. As iron is a key indicator for engine condition, the results disclosed favorable wear protection properties, with the lubricant having a ppm [parts per million] of between 67 and 85 after max OEM recommendations, and 111 ppm after the 237 000 km mark. In order to ensure we obtained the best information possible, we ensured that the engines were closely inspected to truly understand the internal condition of the powerplant,” concludes Brown.

In the modern era of transport, low viscosity lubricants in conjunction with other hardware increases vehicle efficiencies, and play a key role in assisting fleets to run more efficiently and in turn lower their total cost of ownership.