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The importance of lubricants in increasing manufacturing efficiency and reducing total cost of ownership (TCO) – a concept which looks beyond initial costs for a holistic view of the lifetime value of a piece of equipment - is well-known. Yet as the world marches towards industry 4.0, an era powered by automation, interconnected processes and big data, lubricants will play a vital role in driving the efficiencies necessary for maximum productivity.

In 2017, UK manufacturing orders reached their highest level in nearly 30 years, placing intense demands on equipment and lubrication. However, with Brexit round the corner and a potentially fraught trading environment ahead, demand could dip at any moment. Flexibility and efficiency are essential to survive the highs and lows of the new economy.

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The importance of lubricants in increasing manufacturing efficiency and reducing total cost of ownership (TCO) – a concept which looks beyond initial costs for a holistic view of the lifetime value of a piece of equipment - is well-known. Yet as the world marches towards industry 4.0, an era powered by automation, interconnected processes and big data, lubricants will play a vital role in driving the efficiencies necessary for maximum productivity.

Our new report explains in depth how high performance lubricants, the latest management solutions and innovative technologies can unlock the hidden potential of manufacturing. Here, we explore some of the emerging lubricant technologies that will help to power manufacturing success in the fourth industrial revolution.

A smooth transition to industry 4.0
For general manufacturers, industry 4.0 means predictive and preventative maintenance, with intelligent, autonomous machines enabling businesses to eliminate unplanned downtime, remove human error and create new efficiencies.

Lubricants, as always, will remain essential to industry. If anything they will become more important, as manufacturers depend on them to function for longer in unmonitored, self-controlling devices.

There are two industry 4.0 emerging technologies driving the future of manufacturing and empowering businesses to achieve peak total cost of ownership savings through lubricant management: sensors and big data.

The age of connectivity
Most businesses make calculations on when to change their lubricants based on theory, which can leave room for human error. This can lead to operators either changing lubricants too early, therefore increasing expenditure; or changing them too late, resulting in component wear and tear and risk of failure. 

By deploying sensor-based technology, manufacturers can monitor the true condition of their lubricants in real time. Sensors can also be configured to detect key performance indictors and risks to lubricant health, including vibration, temperature, contamination, flow, current and humidity or moisture.

Sensors are especially valuable when used on inaccessible or automated machinery, as they enable machines to test and diagnose themselves. By factoring in numerous variables and adapting to a range of conditions, sensors can determine exactly when oils need to be replaced and provide more accurate forecasts to help schedule downtime when it is most convenient. This is where big data can play a key role.

Data: the new oil
The term ‘big data’ refers to the massive datasets that are produced by businesses and machines every day. Big data can yield valuable strategic insights for businesses – yet these datasets are often far too large to be processed by conventional means. As a result, big data is often analysed with machine learning technology, which is able to spot patterns and produce powerful insights that would be impossible for humans to calculate. 

Combining big data produced by sensor technology with machine learning techniques enables manufacturing companies to predict when their equipment will fail with extreme accuracy. Shell LubeAnalyst, for example, “processes and compiles huge quantities of data which can then be used to generate accurate reports that help monitor a stationary or mobile equipment oil over time. This helps identify performance issues that could prevent costly breakdowns, and more importantly optimise oil drain intervals.” 

Together with new and emerging technologies, higher quality lubricants take preventative maintenance to the next level and lay the foundations for the future of global manufacturing. To find out more about how choosing the right lubricants and management solutions can unleash your manufacturing company’s productivity, download our latest report here – [LINK].

To find out more about how Certas Energy supports the manufacturing industry in achieving total cost of ownership savings with high performance lubricants and technical expertise and support, visit certasenergylubricants.com/sectors/manufacturing.

*Unlocking the hidden potential of manufacturing. How lubricants can help increase productivity and reduce total cost of ownership’ Shell Lubricants