PMV Middle East
FLEET MANAGERS ARE INCREASINGLY MAKING THE CONNECTION BETWEEN BETTER-QUALITY LUBRICANTS AND LOWER OPERATING COSTS
THE POTENTIAL OF LOW VISCOSITY ENGINE OILS
Lubricants constitute less than 3% of the annual operating costs of a truck fleet; however, lubricant related costs can be quite significant, especially if failures occur due to the wrong choice or application of lubricants combined with other factors such as overloading and poor driver behaviour.
Fleet operators should be aware about the critical properties of lubricants such as viscosity, thermal stability, oxidation stability, pour point, flash point, etc., and a good lubrication strategy would involve a regular oil analysis for oil parameters, wear metals, oxidation and contamination.
The most important property of a lubricant is its viscosity and viscosity retention over the life cycle of the oil. The consensus in the past was that the higher the viscosity, especially for diesel engines, the better the lubricant. However, we have found the opposite to be true. High quality, lower viscosity oils optimally formulated are capable of increasing oil drain intervals, maintain engine durability and help achieve higher emission standards.
Lubricant viscosity is bolstered by the type of base oil. Chevron is one of the world's largest suppliers of premium base oils, particularly Group II base oils, which have synthetic-like performance important in delivering better performance, longer oil drain intervals and contributing to lower wear. When blending premium lubricants, the quality of raw materials needs to improve significantly in order for the lubricant to be robust enough for use in a heavy-duty truck and reduce wear especially in highperformance engines.
The rapid transition to high-quality lubricants in the Middle East has been possible due to government regulation, particularly mandates from the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology Authority (ESMA) and GCC Standardisation Organisation (GSO). High-viscosity monograde engine oils were discontinued in the UAE by ESMA via GSO 1785:2013. Chevron was one of the very first companies to be fully compliant with the regulation. Since then, we have introduced the Delo Fleetpro SAE 20W50 API CH-4 range of multigrade engine oils, specifically formulated to provide older engines with better engine durability and extended oil drain intervals.
The positive outcome of government regulations is that fleet managers are increasingly making the connection between better-quality lubricants and lower operating costs. We've seen customer demand shift from low-specification monograde engine oils, such as SAE 40 and SAE 50, to higher-specification multigrade variants, such as the SAE 15W-40 and SAE 20W-50, and progressing to SAE 10W-40, SAE 10W-30 and SAE 5W-30.
Currently, the most optimal engine oil grade for the operating conditions in the Middle East is the SAE 15W-40, because it covers a wide temperature range and reduces wear during engine startup. The SAE 10W-40 variant is also gaining traction as it offers an even wider temperature operating.
With premium oils, oil parameters can be maintained for 10,000 to 40,000 km under all manner of operating conditions, unlike in the past where the maximum range would be in the range of 5,000 to 10,000 km. We have done some trials in the Middle East, where we have achieved up to 35,000 kilometers with on-highway fleets, which means customers would be able save at least 50% of their annual lubricant expenses due to longer drain intervals which results in lesser lubricant volume requirements.
PRODUCT RATIONALIZATION AND TRAINING
Mixed fleet operators in the Middle East tend to operate in multiple countries with different emission standards. As trucks transit from one country to another, the variation in fuel quality and emission standards creates performance issues for engine oils.
For example, a mixed fleet with 20 Euro 5 trucks and 80 Euro 3 trucks would need to stock two or three types of oils depending on the fleet age. This complicates procurement and creates challenges for tracking the use of different oils as lube technicians would need to place stickers on the engine to serve as a reminder of what goes where. If a compatible engine oil is not available, a technician will most likely settle for a non-compatible variant to keep the truck running.
When the correct products are not used, especially with newer engine technologies, they set up the engine for failure.
To solve these problems, we work very closely with the major truck original equipment manufacturers on our product development. Anticipating the challenges of operating trucks in different conditions, ur solutions need to address the requirement for trucking companies in the Middle East to use two different lubricants, say one type in the UAE and another in KSA, as well as if we can merge these requirements to create a single engine oil variant that can handle a wider range of fuel quality.
We are rationalizing our product line to make it more user-friendly. For that reason, we introduced a ‘bridging’ product compatible with Euro 3, Euro 4 and Euro 5 engines. The Delo 400 MGX SAE 15W-40 is an example of an API CJ-4 heavy-duty diesel engine oil specifically formulated for on-highway and off-highway applications, using either high-sulphur or low-sulphur diesel, which also provides protection for newer compliant low-emission diesel engines with selective catalytic reduction (SCR), diesel particulate filter (DPF) and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). It is fully compatible with previous diesel engine models and previous API oil service categories, including API CI-4 Plus,
API CI-4 and API CH-4. In that way, the Delo 400 MGX is a very unique oil.
The ‘MGX’ nomenclature indicates the lubricant is formulated for mixed fleets. Having such lubricant variants help mixed fleet operators avoid the use of inferior engine oils, reduce their inventory, and extend the uptime of vehicles.
Skill gaps in lubrication management have been more prevalent in the last five years because engine technology has been changing at a fast pace. Wrong application of lubricants is a common mistake we see in the Middle East, and there is a lot of confusion about SCR, DPF, and EGR technologies and the compatibility of lubricants with these technologies.
We have invested a lot in training programs to educate customers about the application of lubricants. My recommendation is to avoid trial and error, and switch to high-quality products. With all the supply chain challenges that we are experiencing globally, fleets using top-quality products will face fewer problems and benefit from a lower total cost of ownership compared to those using lowquality products.
DATA-DRIVEN PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE
Running a fleet without data is like trying to drive a truck with a dirty windscreen. You will not be able to see ahead! That is why fleet operators need a data-driven strategy to support their fleet lubrication efforts. Incorporating real time data analysis into fleet management can help fleet managers gain full control of all the vehicle and lubricant parameters, enabling the isolation of any parameter and analysing its impact on the performance of their entire fleet or a selected number of vehicles over a period of time. The insights can then be used to identify trends, faults, and gaps to optimize the fleet operations. It can also help drive other decisions related to procurement and inventory.
Using the right lubricant is an integral part of any preventive maintenance program as it aids to reduce friction for equipment parts, such as the engine, gearbox, and more. Similar to conducting a blood test with a blood sample, we run tests on a lubricant samples and compare the results with the parameters of the original product or with predetermined in-use levels. We offer a service for routine testing and analysis of lubricants under the Caltex Lubewatch Oil Analysis program.
The oil analysis can be done either in a lab or at the job site in real time. For lab testing, we receive a sample from the customer and run tests to determine the oil parameters, wear metals, contaminants, all of which provide an indication of the operating conditions of a vehicle or equipment. This analysis provides a continuous influx of data, which if interpreted properly can help fleet managers improve their preventive maintenance programs to optimize and extend oil drain intervals and achieve significant cost savings. A good practice would be to combine the use of a highquality product such as the Delo 400 MGX with the Lubewatch program and technical consultation from Caltex experts.