Changes in Industrial Gearboxes
Today's gearboxes are made from new materials, which results in a lighter weight of the gearbox. They are required to produce more power and be more durable and reliable than their predecessors. In addition, the teeth and bearing loadings are also higher.
The smaller size of the gearbox means less oil and additive to lubricate the gears, which are now trying to carry higher loads. This results in higher temperatures and an acceleration of the oxidation process. Oxidation is harmful for industrial gear oils because it can form sludge, which can shorten the oil life and component life of the gearbox. This results in downtime and expenses to replace or repair components.
Elements of a Good Gear Oil
The components of a quality gear oil sometimes depend on who is leading the discussion. The lubricant manufacturer, however, is knowledgeable on all parts of the process. An understanding of gearbox design changes helps the lubricant manufacturer and additive supplier to understand the performance requirements needed for the new design. A thorough understanding of the end user's needs is required to know how the lubricant fits into the process.
Additives play a leading role in adding value by improving the properties, lubrication and performance of industrial gear oils. They provide factors such as oxidation, viscosity and thermal stability, micropitting resistance, bearing corrosion protection, foam resistance and enhanced load carrying. In addition, they provide seal protection and demulsibility (ability to shed water).
A lineup of additives is required to deliver full performance. These additives include sulfur-phosphorus chemistry for extreme pressure, antioxidants, demulsifiers, friction modifiers, viscosity modifiers, metal deactivators and others.
Additive suppliers provide the lubricant manufacturer with the technology to go beyond the universal mineral-based gear oil. With proper additive technology, the lube manufacturer can make specific performance claims and produce gear oils with certain attributes, such as higher levels of load-carrying capability, or for specific applications, such as food contact and wind turbines.