Debunking the hydraulic oil myth

Hydraulic oil blog

Written by Matt Hill, Lubricant Engineering Manager, WP Group

Over many years working in the Engineering and Lubricants industry, I’ve frequently encountered the same cost saving request from customers “What’s the cheapest hydraulic oil you can offer?”

In some instances, a customer’s initial purchase price can be up to 50% cheaper when comparing a low cost mineral lubricant to a premium mineral lubricant. However, what many customers aren’t aware of is that this can be as much as a 500% differential in long term costs, when comparing a fully synthetic lubricant. Does the initial saving truly benefit the customer’s long term needs

Low cost hydraulic oil is a cheap initial fill and offers reasonable pump protection. On the face of it, this doesn’t seem like a bad idea. The primary savings are attractive, especially as businesses look to improve the bottom line, however what needs to be considered are the associated long term cost implications. I would recommend that businesses consider these additional costs that could be incurred as a result of purchasing low cost hydraulic oils:

•    Labour cost to complete frequent oil changes 
•    The cost to remove waste oil 
•    Regular filter changes
•    Valve cleaning and replacement 
•    Increase energy consumption 

In addition to the above, the purchase of low cost hydraulic oils may also result in safety and environmental impacts, these impacts could demand additional resource, time and money:

•    The amount of time an engineer is working on the equipment 
•    Additional waste oil generated 
•    Additional waste product containers 
•    Increased product leakage 

For every pence per litre saved purchasing low cost hydraulic oil, the continued and reactive maintenance costs as well as asset care, often exceeds these initial savings. With the need to manage costs, whilst ensuring quality, I am often asked how the higher initial purchasing price will truly benefit a business’s long term needs. 

For me, it's easy to explain; a premium hydraulic oil, although a higher initial fill cost, offers exceptional pump protection and an oil change interval of at least double that of low cost oil. These reasons alone, on many occasions, can offset the cost of the first purchase. In my experience informed businesses can reap many additional long term benefits from investing in these premium hydraulic oils. These results have included: 

•    A minimum of 50% less labour cost
•    A minimum of 50% less waste oil generation 
•    Reduced filter changes
•    Reduced valve cleaning and replacement
•    Reduced energy consumption

Choosing the right hydraulic oil for any business can be a complicated matter which requires detailed consideration. I’ve demonstrated the full depth of the decision-making process when considering the optimum product for each business’s needs. I recommend to my customers that cost saving should be part of an informed engineering benefits proposal, and appreciated as a potentially long term benefit rather than a pence per litre saving. 

To speak to myself, or a member of the team, to discuss your bespoke lubrication requirements and to find out more about your potential cost saving opportunities, contact us on 0800 980 6172 or complete our enquiry form

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