Food-grade lubricants come of age
Past trade-offs between performance and safety have disappeared
Monitoring the use of packaging, along with what is and what isn’t a true H1 product, is part of a lubrication survey. Surveys not only improve food safety, they also save money. “In one case, a potato processor was struggling with an auger bearing they had to change every four to six weeks. We put SumTech FGCO in there, and it’s been over a year and a half since they’ve changed the bearing,” says Texler. In another case, a dairy in Idaho used to change the oil in one of its separators every six to eight weeks. By switching to Summit’s Syngear FG Series it extended change intervals to six months instead, Texler states.
Eric Peter, president of JAX INC., Menomonee Falls, WI, says his company has a “Lube-Guard” program that uses color-coded wall charts, equipment tags and container labels to help ensure products are used for the proper application. “We also have an oil sampling program to help our customers get the most life out of their lubricants,” he notes.
Sprayon Products of Cleveland, OH has a coded visual program in place as well. It’s called 5S Visual Management: “All of our products are integrated with this identification system—it integrates the labeling on Sprayon product packaging with a unique set of identification tools to help manufacturing facilities accurately deploy the use of chemicals and lubricants,” says Sprayon Associate Product Manager Mark Greenwell. “We also have Eco-Grade and Liqui-Sol programs to help facilities operate more safely without sacrificing performance.”
Sprayon offers 14 H1 lubricants for demands such as heavy load pressures and superior resistance to water washout, lower flammability ratings and wide temperature ranges.
Robert Farthing, category portfolio manager, specialty fluids, at Petro-Canada Lubricants in Mississauga, Ontario, says food production applications are a key part of his company’s business. The company has a full line of lubricants and greases, food-grade mineral oils and a selection of PURITY FG greases.
PURITY FG with MICROL is unique in its ability to inhibit the growth of micro-organisms that can cause product degradation and odors. “We’ve also introduced a line of EcoSia products that are completely non-toxic and inherently biodegradable to help customers achieve their environmental goals,” explains Farthing.
CITGO Petroleum Corp, Houston, TX, produces conventional and synthetic lubricants including Clarion food-grade products. The company also provides a fire-resistant food-grade lubricant specifically for hydraulic systems. “This product is used in applications where fire risk concerns prohibit the use of a conventional hydraulic fluid, such as deep frying operations,” notes Clarion Lubricants Product Manager Benjamin Briseno. “Another noteworthy product is our line of Clarion SynBar barrier fluids. These are effective where mechanical seals are used to keep food product separated and ensure purity during the manufacturing or handling process.”
Demand on the rise
Glen Sharkowicz, global business development advisor for ExxonMobil Fuels, Lubricants & Specialties Marketing Company in Fairfax, VA, points out that greater demands have been made on lubricants from food and other industries and that these demands will continue to increase in the future. “As technology progresses, production machines of all sorts are getting smaller, lighter, faster, and consequently work at higher temperatures,” he says. “This also means the amount of lubricant used by a typical machine is decreasing, while load is increasing. Think of more power going through a smaller gearbox. This stresses the lubricant and is why companies such as ours dedicate significant resources to ongoing product development to keep up with changing trends.”
This led to the launch in 2007 of ExxonMobil’s Mobil SHC Cibus H1 lubricants, the company’s product line of synthetic lubricants. “Mobil SHC Cibus lubricants can offer up to 3.6 percent energy savings particularly for gearboxes, depending on the application. Over many gearboxes, that can amount to significant benefits—both for the bottom line and the environment,” notes Sharkowicz. The company also sells a line of NSF H1-registered Mobil SHC Polyrex synthetic greases which, like their fluid counterparts, are noted for long life, maximum equipment protection, less used lubricant to dispose of, high-temperature capability and resistance to oxidation.
For instance, in Europe, a sugar beet processing facility replaced conventional grease in a steam dryer with Mobil SHC Polyrex 462 grease, which is particularly suitable to high temperatures. “In one unit alone, the company saved $20,000 dollars in annual operating expenses, and reduced bearing failures,” says Sharkowicz.
Considering 65 percent of plant stoppages and equipment failures are the result of improper use of lubricants, extra efforts to keep a tight ship won’t go unrewarded. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure—not only in day-to-day operations, but also in the much more important area of food safety.
|Sweet solution for drinks processor|
Bel-Ray Company Inc., Farmingdale, NJ, solved a major problem at a global drinks processor in Thailand with its No-Tox H1 Sugar Soluble lubricant. The processor’s sugar warehouse is situated across the road from the filling plant and transporting the sugar was a problem. It mixed with the lubricant the processor was using and created a black, sticky residue on the chains. Not only did the lubricant have to be replaced every four days, the chains had to be replaced every two months due to wear.
Bel-Ray’s No-Tox H1 Sugar Soluble lubricant dissolves the sugar, while leaving behind an invisible coating to prevent the sugar from sticking. The product’s low viscosity enables full penetration. The result? Chains only need lubricating every month instead of every four days, and replacing once per year instead of every two months. The company is enjoying annual savings of $33,000 on the chains alone, not to mention further savings from lower lubricant usage and maintenance.
|The following companies supply food-grade lubricants:|