Improve your food processing equipment performance with synthetic lubricants

Lubricants used in the food processing sector are often subjected to extreme temperatures for prolonged periods. There is also the possibility of exposure to water or steam, depending on the type of operation, as well as contamination from food waste.

We look at how high performance synthetic lubricants combined with a fully featured maintenance programme can help operators extend oil drain intervals and optimise the performance of their processing equipment.


Lubricants used in the food processing sector are often subjected to extreme temperatures for prolonged periods. There is also the possibility of exposure to water or steam – depending on the type of operation – as well as contamination from food waste.

These issues can adversely affect lubricant performance, which risks triggering unscheduled maintenance and avoidable downtime. Fortunately, the use of high performance synthetic oils and greases can help mitigate this, while also safeguarding productivity.

Squeeze out water contamination

For instance, a food processing company based in North America used to lubricate the gearboxes of its meat grinders with a standard 80W-90 oil, which was vulnerable to water contamination. Maintenance personnel detected high levels of emulsification in the gearbox lubricant, which thus required the frequent changing out of contaminated oils – this led to significant additional labour costs.

After consulting with their distributor to determine a better lube solution, the company switched to a high performance, NSF-H1-registered synthetic lubricant – specially formulated for use in applications where oil can accidentally be exposed to food products. Moreover, the lubricant was formulated with a naturally high viscosity index and additive system to provide excellent water separation and corrosion protection in a wide variety of food machinery applications.

The switch resulted in extended oil drain intervals and lower overall lubricant usage/disposal. It also reduced the number of gearbox failures, due to less water contamination, and allowed for less machine interaction by maintenance personnel and more reliable production. In total, the company estimated annual savings of $325,0001!

Do a ‘blood test’ for your machinery with used oil analysis

However, it is not all about lubricant selection – a fully featured maintenance programme should also include a used oil analysis service. It enables users to proactively identify potential equipment maintenance issues before they occur, thereby helping food machinery operators enhance equipment reliability and performance. This, in turn, can help to reduce unscheduled downtime, improve equipment life, and extend oil drain intervals.

Small changes, big difference

Overall, lubricant expenditure represents a fraction of the overall costs of running food processing machinery. If done correctly, however, the investment offers a valuable return very quickly. Not only can it improve energy efficiency by maintaining the desired viscosity, but it can also help to protect equipment, reduce maintenance costs, and extend oil drain intervals. It enables food processing facilities to ensure safe, efficient, and profitable productivity.

Do you already use high performance lubricants at your food processing plant? Share with us your experience or hit “Like” on the toolbar to the right if you found this article useful!



[1] Based on the experience of a single customer. Actual results can vary depending upon the type of equipment used and its maintenance, operating conditions and environment, and any prior lubricant used.

  • It is important to highlight the use of food-grade oils to avoid what happened with the North American company mentioned in the article. I think that what the article states is very important and a must to reduce costs in the operation of more machines, as well as to ensure that the processed food is healthy to eat.

    Here is additional information about food-grade lubricant classes:

    *Lubricants classified as H1 are food-grade lubricants used in food processing environments where there is a low probability of accidentally coming into contact with the food. Lubricant formulations must include one or more base oils, additives and thickeners (in the case of grease), which must be approved and listed in the 21 CFR 178.3750 standard.

    * H2 lubricants are the lubricants used in equipment and parts of the machine in places where the food cannot come into contact with the surfaces of the machine and its components. H2 lubricants cannot contain intentionally heavy metals, such as antimony, arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury or selenium, since there is no risk of contact with food. In addition, they must not contain carcinogenic and mutagenic substances, teratogens or mineral acids.

    * H3 lubricants, also known as lubricants that are soluble in oil or edible, are used to clean and prevent oxidation on hooks, wheelbarrows or similar equipment. They can be in direct contact with food without causing any problem.

  • Excellent subject, with the improvement in performance of your food machinery by using synthetic lubricants, not only with the selection of the correct lubricant, but with proper maintenance of the machine. Regards.