Shell presents its portfolio of lubrication products

Big trucks, autonomous equipment, virtual reality and data apps… these were the big stars at MINExpo International 2016.

However, some companies also had big displays to remind customers of best practices, such as that of keeping mining equipment well-tuned.

That was particularly the case for Shell whose Lubricants division not only presented a new line of products, but also made sure to explain to attendees how they can save money by choosing the right grease and by properly applying it to their machines.

The full interview with Mike Longbottom, Shell's Product Application Specialist and LubeExpert Coach, is lightly edited for clarity.

MINING.COM: What is Shell Lubricants?

Mike Longbottom: Shell Lubricants are high-quality products that are designed to meet OEM specifications to do a job that fits a purpose and to perform and deliver customer benefits.

MINING.COM: What are the applications in mining?

Mike Longbottom: There’s many applications in mining depending what type of equipment and what kind of operation you are lubricating. It can vary from open gear lubricants to engine oils, hydraulic fluids, gearbox lubricants, so there is a variety of different lubricants and then we start talking about greases, and you have all purpose greases, electrical motor gear box greases, so there’s a whole variety of different lubricants we require in the portfolio to do a job in a mining environment.

MINING.COM: Why is it important to pay attention to lubricants when you are operating mining equipment?

Mike Longbottom: To lubricate a piece of equipment properly you need the right amount of lubricant and the right lubricant going into a component on a regular basis. So having the right quantity of lube and having the right amount of lube at the right time can make a huge difference on the component and the component’s life.

MINING.COM: Do customers save money by using the right lubricant?

Mike Longbottom: By using the right lubricant and the right service and applying the right product you can get a lot of benefits. It can reduce the customers’ total cost of ownership through services and through products. So by applying the right amount of grease and lubricating all your lubrication systems on a regular basis, you can reduce the amount of grease that the injectors may be bypassing and causing a waste of product. Some of those dollar values can be quite extraordinary. When you start to think that one injector can over-lubricate by $50,000 a year and when you’ve got—on some machines—200 injectors, some of those savings can be huge.

MINING.COM: What is total cost of ownership?

Mike Longbottom: Total cost of ownership is made up of all the costs associated with these operations—so it’s parts, it’s maintenance, it’s lubricants, it’s invoicing, storage, channeling. It's everything associated with a particular cost to operate.

MINING.COM: Does the environment you are operating in affect the type of lubricant you ought to use?

Mike Longbottom: When we talk about the environment, that’s another impact that we need to ensure we are not wasting grease. A lot of the mining equipment has product that falls onto the ground, so we need to limit the amount of product that is actually falling on the ground by providing the right amount of grease to components and ensuring that the injectors are delivering what they should be delivering can totally reduce the amount of grease that’s being wasted and falling on the ground.

MINING.COM: How do you show a client return of investment?

Mike Longbottom: When we are looking at different products or higher-tier products, typically higher-tier products will give a lot of benefits and savings. It can be a number of different factors that comes into the savings that can be attributed to our products and through service. So, if you are using our higher-tier products for a certain application it might be for a temperature issue or it might be to reduce energy. If we are using a synthetic to reduce energy and the components are actually operating with less friction, and therefore it actually operates with less energy which will give you a kilowatt-saving per hour, which can generate a dollar saving for the customer.

MINING.COM: How does the industry look like right now?

Mike Longbottom: I think the industry is stabilizing. I think the last four or five years it has gone through a pretty rough time and I’m starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t think we are going to head back into a major boom, but the industry has stabilized and we are going to be looking at slight improvements and slight growth in the near future.