Lubricant Requirements for Modern Off-Highway Equipment

Lubricant Requirements for Modern Off-Highway Equipment

Jan 22, 2021
Posted by Matthew Bentley, Product Manager, Commercial Engine Oil, Denis Gryazev, OEM Account Manager

This article highlights the key takeaways from our recent Stage V Emissions & the Lubricant Requirements for Modern Off-Highway Equipment webinar, part of our Lubrizol360 Webinar Series featuring Lubrizol experts discussing important industry trends.

Off-highway equipment is enormously diverse and used in a variety of industries including, most notably, agriculture, construction and forestry. As emissions standards tighten for new equipment, lubricant manufacturers are reviewing their product portfolios to ensure that relevant solutions are in place or being positioned correctly to meet the needs of changing off-highway equipment demands.

Three key market drivers influence hardware and maintenance requirements for lubricants: emissions, efficiency and durability. In this webinar, our presenters focused primarily on the emissions piece of the puzzle, discussing how changes to original equipment manufacturer (OEM) hardware in response to Stage V will have an effect on the types of lubricant required by the market.

European Emissions Categories

In Europe, off-highway emissions are regulated under the Stage Emissions Standards which were first introduced in 1999 with Stage I, gradually progressing to the Stage V Standard we have today.

Each subsequent stage has introduced tougher and/or new limits on emissions across a range of different areas. Alongside tightening emissions criteria, a broader range of power ratings and fuel types have been included in the regulations over time. Fuel quality has improved so much in Europe that it is now possible to use advanced aftertreatment devices more easily in a broader range of applications.

Stage V introduces emissions requirements for a much wider range of power ratings, though the effects of COVID-19 have led regulators to push back the deadline to meet the new standards for off-highway equipment in the main categories from 56kW to 130kW by 12 months. This means that the latest regulations will not be in full effect until December 2021.

Increased Use of Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs)

The use of diesel particulate filters (DPFs) as a means to reduce tailpipe emissions is nothing new for off-highway equipment and some OEMs have used them for a number of years. However, the introduction of the Stage V standard and the need for OEMs to comply now means that DPFs are being fitted in larger quantities to a much broader range of brands, equipment types and sizes. This impact is similar to the effect that Euro V/VI has had on the heavy-duty truck industry with all new vehicles being fitted with DPFs.

It is important to note that engine lubricants play an essential role in preventing premature DPF blockages. Conventional lubricants often have high levels of sulphated ash, phosphorus and sulfur (SAPS) which can cause the honeycomb structure of DPFs to become irreversibly blocked. On the other hand, modern, lower SAPS engine lubricants will prolong the life of the DPF.

Therefore, the trend in off-highway equipment lubrication is shifting towards the increased use of lower SAPS lubricants as we see a higher concentration of DPF fitment on new Stage V equipment which needs the correct protection. By limiting ash build-up in DPFs, lower SAPS lubricants can help to reduce unplanned maintenance costs, downtime and risks to warranties.

Historical Lubricant Requirements

In older farm tractors, it is common for the transmission fluid to also be used in the engine and hydraulic systems, these fluids are known as Super Tractor Oil Universal (STOU). These fluids are no longer suitable in modern engines which require enhanced performance and advanced aftertreatment protection. The many new tractors specify the use of a Universal Tractor Transmission Oil (UTTO) in combination with a dedicated lower SAPS engine lubricant. Dedicated hydraulic fluids are also becoming more widely used.

Since the mid 1990’s most construction equipment has demanded a dedicated transmission fluid and engine lubricant. However, the engine lubricant was often categorized as high SAPS due to a much lower concentration of advanced after treatment devices in the market. Modern construction equipment maintains the dedicated fluid approach, however lower SAPS engine lubricants are becoming the norm.

Using the Correct Lubricants

Using the correct type and combination of lubricants has significant advantages for the stakeholders throughout the value chain.

For OEMs, modern, dedicated lubricants improve engine, transmission and hydraulic system durability and performance. They also reduce the risks of field failures, protect the brand’s reputation and guarantee regulatory compliance.

For oil marketers, ensuring the product portfolio contains the lubricants which are designed for modern equipment allows them to market a relevant, forward-looking product portfolio and seize opportunities to market high-growth lubricant solutions.

Finally, fleet owners can protect warranties and maintenance plans, improve vehicle efficiencies and maximize vehicle uptime and longevity, which reduces the long-term costs of owning and operating large fleets of vehicles.

Our View

Modern and aging off-highway equipment have different lubricant requirements. Historically, transmission fluids were often used in engine applications and some hydraulic systems and where dedicated engine oils were used, high SAPS lubricants were common, but this is changing.

The Stage I emissions standard was first introduced in 1999 but fast forward to today and Stage V is the focus. Each new stage has introduced tougher limits and the range of equipment affected has changed thanks to increasingly broader scopes. Compliance with Stage V requires more focus on advanced after treatment devices such as DPFs and others. To prolong the life of after treatment devices, lower SAPS engine lubricants are essential.

After all, modern hardware requires modern lubrication. To meet the changing needs, there has been growth in dedicated, OEM-approved lower SAPS engine lubricants, dedicated transmission fluids and the continued use of premium zinc-based and biodegradable hydraulic fluids. Finally, using the correct lubricants in modern equipment benefits stakeholders throughout the value chain as discussed above.

For more information about off-highway lubricants, view the whole webinar here, or contact your Lubrizol representative today.

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