Too often, manufacturers treat hydraulic fluids as commodities instead of critical system components. But with rising costs and the need for optimization, fluid cleanliness and efficiency should be top of mind.
At IFPE 2023, Zach Sutton, Chevron Lubricants Industrial & Services Sector Specialist, shared insights with Fluid Power World on how Chevron is taking the guesswork out of hydraulic fluids to help manufacturers meet cleanliness standards and contribute to sustainability.
Fluid Power World: What is the ISOCLEAN Certified program?
Zach Sutton: Manufacturers often use components that require an ISO specification. Typically, if you’re using a distributor to purchase hydraulic fluid, the product usually doesn’t achieve the ISO specification without some filtration before it enters the product reservoir.
With the ISOCLEAN Certified program, we have a network of distributors that pre-filter the product and put our ISO certification tag on it so that you know it’s endorsed and backed by Chevron. We’ve done the filtration work and understand what it takes to filter that product to the ISO spec it needs. Our distributor network across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Colombia can offer our ISOCLEAN Certified Lubricants.
FPW: What types of hydraulic fluids are ISOCLEAN Certified?
ZS: We categorize our products as zinc-based and non-zinc-based. Our Rando product line is zinc-based, and our Clarity product line is zinc-free.
Our Rando HDZ product line can provide 3.4% greater efficiency in hydraulic movement. There aren’t many zinc-based products in the marketplace that can offer that. And it usually operates over a higher temperature window than most traditional anti-wear, zinc-based product performance.
We’re really excited about our non-zinc-based product line, Clarity, especially our Clarity Synthetic. In the industry, everyone thinks about TOST — an oxidation stability test focused on turbine oil, which isn’t always relevant for hydraulic fluid. People tend to gravitate to TOST as the basis for how an oil product can hold up under high temperatures. You tend to see anywhere from 2,500 to 6,500 hours in TOST life for zinc-based products. For non-zinc-based products, there’s an opportunity for longer TOST life, and you don’t see the same kind of varnish formation that we see in zinc-based products. So, we think there’s a lot to be done in non-zinc-based hydraulic fluids.
FPW: Many OEMs are talking about “designing for the operator” to help operators do their jobs more efficiently, accurately, and safely. How does pre-filtering hydraulic fluids align with that trend?
ZS: We’re trying to make it easier for them to keep the fluid clean. We’re taking away a bit of labor and knowledge and putting it on us — in our R&D investments — to understand what specification you need to filter the oil down to.
The last thing you want to do is over-filter the oil and strip out the protection that product is formulated with. We’ve seen scenarios where that has happened, where they over-filter the oil. So, we’re saving them effort and making it easier by giving them an ISO-certified product.
FPW: How does fluid cleanliness align with efficiency?
ZS: Based on field tests, for example, we know an excavator can perform more swings when it uses more efficient fluid. That shows that the operation can have a higher output per hour and save fuel in the process than, say, when it uses a traditional hydraulic fluid.
Earlier, I mentioned varnish formation. We see this a lot in stationary hydraulics, especially plastic injection molding. When you get people away from zinc-based products, you can remove varnish from the reservoir and get to a product that has less tolerance for varnish inside. That keeps that machinery up and running and prevents unexpected catastrophes.
FPW: How can clean hydraulic fluids contribute to sustainability?
ZS: When you maximize a component’s life cycle, you create less waste and have more time to inventory a component back into operation. When you increase efficiency, you consume less fuel, so you have more potential for less emissions.
Long term, we know that hydraulic fluid formulations will evolve. And we know that zinc-based products have some aspects of toxicity. We believe there will be a continued push to look at readily biodegradable fluids, so our research and development focuses on that.
Filed Under: Fluids, News