Maximising the Productivity of Plastic Component Manufacturers

 7th Oct 2014

Due to the competitive nature of the plastics industry, companies are continually looking to maximise productivity while reducing unscheduled downtime and costs. While a small percentage of total maintenance spend, the latest hydraulic oils have the potential to inject additional productivity and performance into plastic manufacturing operations.

Within the majority of plastic injection moulding applications, hydraulic oils play a fundamental role in the actual production of plastic components as well as helping to reduce unscheduled downtime and extend oil drain intervals. However, advancements in hydraulic oil technology now means plastics manufacturers can select fluids which can help produce high quality components and provide outstanding levels of protection, as well as other benefits such as increased energy efficiency and decreased cycle times.

ExxonMobil Lubricants and Specialities for example has developed an award-winning* hydraulic oil which has been proven to help plastic injection moulding operators to increase productivity, reduce unscheduled downtime and improve the energy and cycle efficiency of their machinery. Compared to standard hydraulic oils, Mobil DTE 10 Excel can provide up to a six percent improvement in hydraulic system efficiency**, reduce cycle times and triple oil drain intervals.

Next Generation Hydraulic Oils

To help reduce unscheduled downtime, contamination control is a key requirement of a hydraulic oil. Contamination may be generated in the system or may ingress from the outside, so a hydraulic oil needs to demonstrate excellent oxidation resistance and filterability to avoid lubrication and component failures, and frequent oil changes. Other performance requirements of a hydraulic oil include preventing any pump damage or failures at equipment start-up and while operating at extremely high temperatures.

Laboratory and in-service field demonstrations conducted on a wide range of modern hydraulic systems, demonstrated that Mobil DTE 10 Excel has exceptional oil life, outlasting standard hydraulic oils by up to three times whilst maintaining outstanding hydraulic system cleanliness and component protection.

In addition to excellent protection, Mobil DTE 10 Excel can help provide quantifiable increases in hydraulic efficiency compared to standard hydraulic oils. This can translate to reduced power consumption and cycle times, resulting in monetary savings. This is achieved through the oil performing at its optimum volumetric and mechanical efficiency level ­ achieved when the two efficiencies, which are inversely proportional to each other, are in balance. To ensure this level is maintained throughout the day and to avoid late-day sluggishness („PM fade‟), Mobil DTE 10 Excel‟s high viscosity index ensures the performance of the oil is not impacted by the equipment heating up during the day while in operation.

In controlled laboratory efficiency testing, Mobil DTE 10 Excel was measured to provide up to a six percent improvement in hydraulic pump efficiency compared to a standard hydraulic fluid, when operating in typical hydraulic applications. The oil‟s ability to reduce cycle times delivers additional benefits. For example, in plastic injection moulding equipment, a 0.5 second reduction in cycle time can realise up to an 11 percent increase in productivity.

Performance in the Field

Häfner & Krullmann, a company based in Leopoldshöhe, Germany, specialises in processing plastics and currently has 52 injection moulding machines, varying in size from 50 to 2,000 tonnes. The company is one of Europe‟s largest manufacturers of plastic spools ranging from special spools for the silver stripes used in hundred euro notes, to spools produced under clean room conditions for medical applications.

The company has realised the importance of hydraulic oils in maximising the productivity of its equipment for a number of years and was keen to see what performance benefits could be realised through the introduction of Mobil DTE 10 Excel. Following a successful test phase involving two machines, the company decided to convert additional machines to Mobil DTE 10 Excel. Since then, five of the company‟s installations have been filled with the product and for the other machines it has been used for topping up.

Following the introduction and initial monitoring of Mobil DTE 10 Excel, Häfner & Krullmann expect to extend oil drain intervals from 40,000 to around 50 to 60,000 operating hours and make an energy saving of two ­ three percent. The company also expects to double filter life which in itself will deliver significant cost savings.

Maximising Productivity

In order to maximise the productivity of machinery and reduce costs, operators should incorporate an oil and equipment condition monitoring programme alongside the use of a high quality hydraulic oil. As part of routine maintenance, the "health" of the hydraulic oil and the hydraulic system itself should be regularly checked. Typically, it is advised that maintenance professionals perform quarterly oil analyses and annual system inspections.

The oil analysis should include a measurement of fluid viscosity, water content, particle count and dissolved metals to determine how well the system is operating. Examining changes in the oil analysis data over time, also known as "trending," is necessary to assess the condition of the hydraulic fluid. By trending oil analysis data it is possible to proactively address undesirable conditions before they become problems.

For equipment maintenance professionals who want an effective oil analysis programme, there is ExxonMobil Lubricants and Specialities‟ proprietary online Signum oil analysis programme. Signum oil analysis offers engineers immediate access and direct control of their lubricant sampling programme. With a few keystrokes, users can manage their oil analysis needs enabling them to:

  • Update equipment registrations and select analysis options based on their equipment or maintenance needs
  • Track the status of samples at the lab
  • Direct actions based on analysis results
  • Share critical results with colleagues in a secure, password protected environment.

Beyond oil analysis, visual system inspections should be conducted regularly to check and document the condition of hydraulic systems. Inspection data can be used to establish the optimum time to perform maintenance on critical hydraulic components such as filters, breathers, valves, hoses, heat exchangers and pumps. Comprehensive leak detection should also be performed, especially if excessive hydraulic oil usage is noted during a routine system inspection.

By combining the use of high quality oils and an effective oil and equipment analysis programme, plastic companies can look to achieve a competitive advantage in their operation, maximising productivity and reducing the energy consumption of hydraulic machinery.

Click to for Mobil DTE 10 Excel Series information sheet


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