High-tech lubrication solutions are ensuring that the efficiency and lifetime of equipment is improved and prolonged
As prices of industrial off- highway equipment rise, owners and operators are looking for practical ways to extend equipment life, improve performance, and prevent both downtime and overhaul intervals.
Studies have shown that the majority of engine mechanical wear – almost 90% – occurs at startup. At first crank of the engine, all the oil is in the sump and at the first rotation of the crankshaft, the bearings, turbo bearings, rods, pistons, heads and all galleys are dry, therefore causing metal-to- metal contact to occur and thus damaging the engine over its lifetime.
Off-highway applications are demanding and can be brutal on equipment. Frequent starts, multiple operators and rugged use, coupled with the key economic need to maximize investment and get the most out of their expensive equipment are smart reasons to prelube such powertrain subsystems. In fact, some OEMs recommend and offer prelube in certain applications, such as off- highway and mining equipment.
Another benefit of a prelube system is that, when used for engine shutdown and turbo wind-down, lubrication of the hot bearings results in substantial wear reduction, as well as increased turbo life. Prelube is also helpful in cold climates for cold starting in order to help circulate the cold oil.
A typical prelube system consists of a prelube pump, associated plumbing and electric controls. The suction line is usually at least 19.5mm in diameter and possibly as large as 38.1mm. It runs from the engine’s oil sump to the suction port of the pre-lube pump. This line is ideally kept short as the prelube pump is usually located within 762mm of the oil-sump port to prevent pump cavitations when the sump oil is cold and thick.
The pressure line runs from the pressure port on the prelube pump to a port on the engine where it ‘tees’ into the oil passages between the engine’s own oil pump and oil filters. The oil re-entering the engine flows toward the oil filter, since the engine oil pump will not accept backflow. From there, oil follows the same path as oil from the engine oil pump during normal running. A check valve is integrated into the prelube pump to prevent oil backflow when the engine is running.
Varna Products, a manufacturer of industrial oil/fuel oil pumps and turnkey control solutions, offers a line of pumps optimized for prelube. Varna Products’ positive displacement vane pumps utilize the company’s patented floating whisper-vane technology. Such is its innovative design, that the pump does not create pressure, but instead it produces flow. Some models have built-in check valve and/or pressure regulator and all models are built for maintenance- free operation.