Save Energy and Cut Costs in Plastic Processing by Using the Right Hydraulic Oil

The plastics industry is energy-intensive and even small rises in energy bills, especially in this highly competitive market, can have serious ramifications for a plastics processor’s bottom line.

However, there are ways to reduce an injection moulding plant’s energy consumption – steps that can also help companies comply with environmental legislation and save money.

Picking the right hydraulic oil is one such way – a small change can make a big difference in performance.

Optimise your hydraulic oil

In injection moulding, hydraulic oils are generally exposed to compression, shear stresses and a wide temperature range. This can activate the oil’s molecular breakdown, and subsequently lead to reduced lubricity and component protection. The equipment will then have to work harder and potentially use more energy. High temperatures can lead to oil oxidation, which can result in corrosion, a build-up of damaging lacquer and an increase in viscosity.

Moreover, hydraulic oils can become contaminated with process materials, water, dust and wear debris. This can trigger pump failures while driving up filtration costs.

A simple switch to a high performance lubricant (such as Mobil DTE 10 Excel™) can help increase hydraulic pump efficiency by up to 6% (compared with Mobil DTE 20 Series when tested in standard hydraulic applications under controlled conditions).

High performance hydraulic oils maintain their optimum viscosity across a wide range of operating conditions, helping to protect equipment, improve energy efficiency and extend oil drain intervals. This can consequently help to reduce maintenance, cut costs and enhance operational safety by reducing employee interaction with machinery.

For example, a manufacturer of plastic buckets, pails and drums reduced its energy bill by 4.28% after switching to a high performance lubricant. The lubricant was trialled in one of the manufacturer’s 150-tonne injection moulding machines for a month. The company noted that the hydraulic oil helped enhance the overall productivity of the machine, compared with the previous lubricant, as well as improve its energy efficiency.

Other tips and tricks

Together with research consultancy Applied Market Information (AMI), ExxonMobil has put together a free handbook titled “Energy Saving Guide for Injection Moulding Companies”, developed by industry expert Dr Robin Kent.

It’s packed with numerous practical tips and insights that are bound to help plastics processers cut their energy consumption, such as the information we’ve covered above.

Plastics processors can also take note of their peripherals and moulding plant services as well. Often ignored, peripherals can provide significant energy savings in an injection moulding plant. According to Dr Kent, fitting insulation to barrel heaters (which account for up to 25% of the energy input of an injection moulding machine) can cut heating costs by 50%! Staff can be trained and empowered to switch off machines, processes and services, which can lead to energy reductions of up to 20%.

To find out more and develop your own edge in today’s competitive industry, download the free ‘Energy Saving Guide for Injection Moulding Companies’.

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