Oiling the wheel for Boundary Bend’s olive harvesters

Australia’s award-winning extra virgin olive oil, Cobram Estate, is advertised as ‘the only oil you need,’ and while that message pertains to the delicate process of cooking, the less delicate process of harvesting the olives relies on other types of lubricants, as Bryden Coote, Branch Manager at BSC’s Swan Hill explains.

“When you have a chain worth thousands of dollars installed on a harvesting machine, it can become quite expensive if the chains do not last through the harvest season, not to mention the downtime from having to replace the chain in the middle of harvesting,” says Bryden.

Cobram Estate is the flagship brand of Boundary Bend Limited (BBL) – Australia’s largest olive farmer and producer of extra virgin olive oil. Across its multiple olive groves in the Murray Valley region of Victoria, BBL owns over 2.5 million olive trees on more than 6000 hectares of farmland.

To efficiently harvest olives from these groves, BBL has been involved in developing its own unique olive harvester machines that enable continuous harvesting rather than the discontinuous system used in most other olive growing countries. During the harvest season, these machines work 24 hours a day to pick the olives when they are at their best.

Over the past couple of years and as recommended by Bryden, Sam Griffiths, Maintenance Manager at the Boundary Bend Estate has been using CRC TAC2 chain lubricants for the maintenance of the Boundary Bend harvester machines – with more than satisfactory results.

“Every day, as part of our routine maintenance, we spray the CRC TAC2 on the harvester chains and this has helped us extend the service life of the chains considerably,” says Sam. “We only use the harvester machines during the harvest season but by keeping the chains lubricated throughout the year, we have almost halved our chain breakdowns. Now we only replace the chains once or twice a year as part of our routine maintenance.”

Iain Faber, National Channel Manager at CRC Industries explains why TAC2 is a suitable choice for lubricating high-speed chains, such as the ones in Boundary Bend’s harvesters.

“The CRC TAC2 is a dual-viscosity lubricant, which means it can be sprayed onto the chain as an oil but it firms up into a grease-like consistency as it sets, enabling it to remain in place without flinging off. Because of this unique formulation, TAC2 can penetrate into the pins and the seals in the chain to effectively protect the chain against wear.

“Moreover, the TAC2 lubricant is resistant to water wash downs, so it can be safely used in areas where water is present. It has a wide operating temperature range, so you can use TAC2 in both hot and cold temperatures.”

But TAC2 is not the only chain lubricant CRC has on offer. The CRC GEL TAC is another chain lubricant with similar properties as TAC2 but suited to different applications, as Iain explains.

“I always use the example of a motorbike and a forklift,” says Iain. “Whereas the TAC2 is best suited for high speed applications like motorbike chains, GEL TAC is designed to stay in place in low speed, high pressure applications such as the chains used in general leaf and pin chains and overhead forklifts.

“The CRC GEL TAC has the similar benefits as the TAC2 in terms of dual-viscosity and water resistance, in addition to having a higher temperature performance. The GEL TAC can withstand temperatures up to 300 degree Celsius compared to the 165 degree Celsius in TAC2. Both products are water-insoluble, meaning that they both perform very well in high water environments and resist water wash off.

Additionally, CRC also offers the Food Grade range of chain lubricants for applications where risk of incidental contact with food is present.

“The CRC Food Grade chain lubricants use a special blend of mineral oil and synthetic additives. The formulation for these lubricants is such that after you spray the oil, it forms bubbles and this foaming action gives the oil better penetration rate into the chain,” he says.

“CRC’s Food Grade range are all NSF-H1 certified and tested for a list of 25 allergens, making them safe to use across all food processing applications. CRC also has all of the certifications required for audit purposes, enabling food processors to easily produce these when required.”

Back to the context of the BBL application, Bryden says in addition to recommending the best lubrication product for each application, BSC experts can also advise on the best maintenance regime to help extend the chain longevity for customers.

“Our customers invest heavily on chains and sprockets for their equipment and it’s important that these chains are maintained as best as possible. When BSC staff visit any site, they often check the equipment and make maintenance recommendations depending on the site conditions and the equipment available on the plant,” says Bryden.

As for Sam, he says he is quite pleased with the services he receives from the BSC Swan Hill branch, particularly Bryden, with whom he has been engaging regularly for the past four years.

“BSC is a very good supplier and the team are genuinely helpful, always going out of their way to supply us the required parts and products when we need them urgently. It’s a relationship built on trust and grown over time.”

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A chain lubricant for the safety conscious

Safety was top of mind for a top Australian manufacturer of bakery products when they approached their long-term product suppliers at BSC seeking recommendation for a suitable chain lubricant. Nick Gunn, the BSC account manager at the time, recommended the ROCOL FOODLUBE Hi Temp Chain Lubricant from ITW Polymers and Fluids, which resulted in a long-term supply program, covering not just the ISO-certified oven chain lubricants, but also a wide range of other oils and greases in the FOODLUBE family.

According to Nick, the ROCOL FOODLUBE portfolio adds an invaluable safety dimension that not only ensures food industry requirements are met, but additionally works to optimise the production in food plants and simplify the overall cleaning process.

“FOODLUBE’s reputation as a globally recognised lubricant for food and beverage manufacturing means that our customer could use the products with complete peace of mind, with no concerns regarding contamination or machinery performance,” he says. “Due to the wide operating temperatures, FOODLUBE Hi-Temp Chain Oil can operate at temperatures ranging from minus 25 degrees to 280 degrees Celsius, they use the same product in their ovens, as well as in their freezers.”

Emilio Seballos, Channel Manager for Heavy Industry at ITW Polymers and Fluids, explains what makes the FOODLUBE proposition attractive for food manufacturers.

“ROCOL FOODLUBE has NSF accreditation, which is globally recognised, and it is also HACCP certified. On top of that, many ROCOL products provide an additional level of safety assurance through their ISO 21469:2006 certification. Like NSF H1, this certification is globally recognised and important for British Retail Consortium audits as it provides credible, independent assurance that products are formulated, manufactured, stored and supplied hygienically and safely.”

Another area where food manufacturers can benefit from the use of ROCOL FOODLUBE products, Emilio explains, is to rationalise and simplify their lubricant inventories.

“The technology behind food grade lubricant products has improved drastically over the last 10 to 15 years. Whereas many food manufacturers still prefer to keep separate inventories for food grade and non-food grade lubricant in their plants, they are increasingly coming to realise the simplifications they can achieve by switching to food-safe products through more of their applications, thus eliminating the risk of cross-contamination in their plants,” he says.

“In the case of the FOODLUBE product range, all the oils and greases are made with a synthetic base oil, which means they don’t break down and carbonise when exposed to high temperatures. This in turn leads to prolonged maintenance intervals as the lubricant does not evaporate from the chain, nor does it cause the chain to drag. The FOODLUBE Hi Temp Chain Spray also has great resistance to water washdowns, so you don’t need to lubricate your chain as frequently in a high water washdown environment. All of this leads to reduced maintenance expenses for the plants and enhances their total reliability and efficiency,” he adds.

As a routine practice, Emilio says the ITW and BSC personnel often perform joint assessments for BSC clients to help them rationalise their inventories.

“The beauty of the ROCOL FOODLUBE portfolio is that many of the products serve multiple purposes. For example, your gearbox oil in one application can be used as chain lubricant in another application. Similarly, your hydraulic lubricant might double up as a chain lubricant, depending on the situation,” he says.

“Where ITW P&F and BSC come into play is to help our customers rationalise their inventories to simplify their management. In one audit we did in conjunction with BSC some years ago, the customer was using 25 different lubricants from 13 different brands. We were able to simplify this down to 12 lubricants from the FOODLUBE range.”

Within this portfolio, Emilio says the FOODLUBE Premier 1 grease has been a “game-changer” in the food industry.

“The FOODLUBE Premier 1 grease is a food grade grease designed for bearings operating at high speeds and high temperatures. Because this grease has a consistency grade of 1, in addition to a wide temperature range of minus 30 to 180 degree Celsius, it can effectively replace multiple types of greases in one application line.

“The FOODLUBE Premier 1 grease is resistant to water washdowns and ISO21469 certified, so you can safely use it where stringent quality control measures are in place.”

The FOODLUBE WD spray is another popular product within the range, Emilio says.

“The FOODLUBE Water Displacement (WD) spray is ideal for use as a general lubricant to protect small components such as linkages, pivots and pins. Having high temperature resistance (up to 120 degree Celsius) and being synthetic based make this a multi-purpose spray that you can use for many applications. The WD Spray is also fortified with PTFE for increased lubricity and like all FOODLUBE products, it is free from colour and odour – which is very important in the food industry.”

As an additional safety measure, all plastic components including the lids and actuators in the ROCOL FOODLUBE products are metal detectable and capable of detection by most metal detection equipment.

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Lubrication dispensing systems with safety in mind

Efficiency and cost savings are two of the key benefits to having a centralised lubrication system, but there is also a third and important reason – safety.
JSG Industrial Systems (JSG) is a company that has many strings to its bow, including its centralised lubrication systems technology supplied by SKF Lincoln for the food and beverage industry among many other sectors.
As in many industrial factories, food and beverage processing and manufacturing plants have a lot of critical machinery that need to be kept running, sometimes 24-hours a day. In order to keep the machinery in peak condition there are many facets that need to be taken into consideration, and good lubrication is critically important.
“A central lubrication system is key if you have equipment that is large and the lubrication points are spread out, and difficult to access,” said JSG’s Italo Marcantonio. “If the lubrication points are difficult or unsafe to access when the machine is running, it is easier to service these points via a lubrication distribution system serviced by a centralised pump. The system is then programmed to run at pre-determined intervals usually prescribed by the OEM.
“Every lubrication point needs a certain amount of grease each day and the most efficient way to deliver this is in small increments over regular intervals in order to keep the bearings running at optimum levels of performance.”
According to Marcantonio, one of the biggest advantages with such a system is that each lubrication point is provided with an exact quantity of lubricant at regular frequency, keeping the bearings lubricated optimally. To get the best results, it is ideal to apply the grease while the machine is running as this ensures uniform coverage.
He also pointed out the aforementioned safety issues when lubricating machinery manually because sometimes the lubrication points are deep inside a machine and therefore maintenance staff find access an issue when equipment is running.
“From a hygiene point of view, if you can only access that machine once a week when it’s not running, the tendency is to go in there and overlubricate the bearings,” he said. “They apply as much grease as they can, which is detrimental to the bearings. If you apply too much grease into a bearing, it won’t run efficiently and you are potentially shortening the life of the bearing. Even worse, what you typically find is that you will get a lot of spillage and contamination because of over lubrication. Bearings will leak grease over the floor and equipment and potentially contaminate the goods that are being manufactured. In a food environment, that can be disastrous.
“You can also cause a bearing to fail if over lubricated, particularly on high-speed machines where the rolling elements have to work against excess grease which causes heat and increased bearing load.”
SKF Lincoln’s centralised lubrication systems come in at a reasonable cost, and are easy to use. A moderately complex system can start between $5,000 to $10,000 and will cover 50 to 100 lubrication points. Marcantonio said if a company is lubricating those points manually then they will employ someone to do the work by hand which could take them up to half a day.
“You’re saving on labour and you are also extending equipment reliability,” he said.
There are two main systems SKF Lincoln produces that are ideal for the food and beverage industry. The first is the Quick Lube Progressive System for grease.
“It tends to be the most prominent system used in the food and beverage industry because the volume of grease you need to reach each bearing isn’t huge, unlike heavier applications such as mining conveyors. You are generally not delivering grease further than 20 to 30 metres and as such the system tends to be more compact. So, this technology is more suited to smaller, more compact machines.”
Then there is the Chain Lubrication System, which is basically an oil lubrication system, similar in principle to the Quick Lube Progressive System and applies finite quantities of oil onto the pins of chain. This is different to some manual systems, or more agricultural systems, which are semi-automatic – oil is applied to the whole chain, which may lead to spillage and oil wastage, and can cause contamination issues in the surrounding environment.
“Lincoln SKF systems will accurately control the quantity of oil to the part that needs to be lubricated – the pins on the chain. This minimises contamination and spillage and optimises lubrication, extending the life of the chain,” he said. “Some of the chains that are used in ovens and other applications cost 10s of 1000s of dollars – they are specialised and quite highly engineered. A simple $5000 lubrication system can greatly increase the service life of these chains when set up properly, reducing unplanned down time.”
The SKF Lincoln systems are easy to install by qualified tradespeople and once installed are simple to operate.
“You just set the run and pause time for the system to suit the amount of oil you want to apply over the time period and the system does the rest,” said Marcantonio.
“In recent times we have seen more companies move to using food grade lubricants in order to minimise risks associated with contamination of product by lubricants. The industry is very sensitive to contamination of product and equipment reliability.”
The other thing that is intrinsic in the food and beverage industry are frequent washdowns of plant and machinery. Most companies will use water or steam to clean equipment down on a regular basis and this practice can potentially wash out the lubricant from the bearings.
“The benefit of a centralised lubrication system is that when the equipment is put back into service the system immediately begins to apply more lubricant into the bearings replacing any grease that was removed during the wash down procedure. Potentially this lubricant is only replaced on a weekly basis if done manually, said Marcantonio. “You could be running the bearings dry for days. The only way you will know if a bearing is running low on lubrication is via the use of condition monitoring technologies such as vibration or temperature sensing. If the plant is not using these technologies then there is no way of knowing when that bearing is low on lubricant. That is why a centralised lubricant can be so important.”
JSG Industrial Systems provides access to products and solutions from SKF Lincoln Lubrication within the Asia Pacific region.

Foodlube for the machine masses

With food production ramping up as people stockpile in the midst of COVID-19, reliability has never been more important – both in terms of product performance and the supply chain.

And it’s not just the supply chain of the goods themselves that is in the spotlight, but the products and services that keep those products in full production – the plants, machinery and back up service.

In order to keep everything running smoothly, a high-quality, food-grade lubricant is needed, and the ROCOL FOODLUBE range is designed to keep plant and machinery in top shape. Distributed by industrial products specialist, BSC, ROCOL fits the bill in many ways, according to BSC national key account manager, Steve Keown.

“ROCOL FOODLUBE has NSF certification, which is globally recognised, and it is also HACCP certified and the products are made using registered ingredients by the USDA and FDA,” he said. “They’re free from nut and soy oils, free from genetically modified ingredients as well. For a certification approval level, they’ve certainly got all the global checks in place.”

Most importantly, during these times, BSC has a large amount of stock of its range in its various warehouses around Australia. Not only that, but it has engineering staff that are on call and available 24/7 to help. Being Australia wide, the company can get product to customers very quickly. This is important – not only for planned maintenance – but in situations where unexpected downtime might occur due to the heavy use of machinery.

Emilio Seballos is the Channel Manager for Heavy Industry at ITW Polymers and Fluids (ITW P&F), the company that owns the ROCOL brand. Based in New South Wales, Seballos knows from first-hand experience how well BSC comes to the party in terms of support, and even helping open up new markets for products.

“Working with BSC is very good. Over the years our relationship has grown significantly,” he said. “They are really easy to work with because they are able to add value on top of providing products. Not only are they able to provide the bearings, the chains etcetera, we can then come in and help from a specialist lubrication standpoint.”

He even goes one step further when it comes to what BSC can do for those running the plant and machinery that keep the food and beverage industry chugging along.

BSC are definitely solution sellers, he said. “BSC offer solutions because they are already providing a technical service from the standpoint of bearings, belts, chains, lubrications and those sorts of things. They are already dealing with customers of our products on a technical level, so there is an excellent synergy between what they can do and what we can supply to industry.”

An example of this collaboration can be seen through both BSC and ITW P&F working together to conduct site assessments at a Global food manufacturer’s operations based in NSW. As a result of the site assessments, BSC and ITW P&F identified that the plants had an excess of stock holdings and were able to brand rationalise to the ROCOL brand and cut their stock holdings by up to half.

The experience from the NSW site was then transferred to the global food manufacturer’s Tasmanian sites. The team at WebsterBSC – BSC’s sister company – were then able to conduct a thorough lubrication survey of two of its food processing sites.

The WebsterBSC team worked in conjunction with ITW P&F, and analysed the lube stores in both operations. Similar to the NSW sites, the result, according to WebsterBSC sales rsepresentative Rick White, was a rationalisation in the number of lubricants that the factories had on site from 25 different lubricants down to only 10 products.

“ROCOL products are very versatile and can be used in a range of applications. By using ROCOL lubricants, the factories were able to reduce their lubricant inventory considerably – which made stock management a lot simpler and more efficient,” White explains.

To elaborate on the versatility of the ROCOL products, White introduces some of the products that WebsterBSC and ITW P&F recommended as part of the survey program.

“For example, the ROCOL FOODLUBE Premier 1 grease is an all-round grease that can protect ball, roller and plain bearings, slides and bushes in water wash offs,” he said.

“The FOODLUBE Hi-Power hydraulic oil and FOODLUBE Hi-Torque gear oil also have some great features. We’ve supplied them successfully to major food manufacturers in Tasmania and nationally, with great customer satisfaction,” he added.

White, who works at the WebsterBSC Burnie branch and has been involved in the sale of industrial and engineering products for over 47 years, said continuous support is BSC’s secret to maintaining a lasting relationship with customers.

“When the same food manufacturer required hydraulic gear oils as part of their scheduled annual maintenance shut down, WebsterBSC was able to supply the order within just one day to avoid any unwanted delay. Our customers know that they can trust us to support them when they need it most.”

Food-grade oil and greases ideal for food manufacturers

Contamination in food and beverage manufacturing plants can be an issue when it comes to machinery like conveyors used in the processing line and the cost of non-compliance can be impactful. All it takes is incidental contamination with non-food grade oil and a whole line of product can be consigned to the rubbish bin and have an impact to your bottom line.

While Australia doesn’t have too many product recalls, when they do, it can cost the manufacturer hundreds of thousands of dollars in downtime and product losses. Then there is the damage to a brand’s reputation – that impact can be much harder to calculate and can have ramifications long after the ‘issue’ is resolved.

When you want to protect your own brand, one way to do this is to partner with other businesses that have your interests at heart. ROCOL brand of food grade oil and greases, are specifically made to use in the food and beverage industry and are distributed nationally by BSC.

Kelvin McCarron, who is the BSC sales representative situated in the NSW country town of Orange, is a fan. His staff, and those at the 80 BSC-affiliated branches around the country, have an intimate knowledge of the ROCOL range and how it can help maintenance managers keep their plant in tip-top shape.

“We get a lot of people coming in and asking for ROCOL Food Grade lubricants by name,” he said. “That doesn’t happen with all the brands we stock. We’ve quite a large range of ROCOL® products on our shelves, and our BSC distribution centres in Melbourne and Sydney both stock it, so if we run out of it here, it is readily available the next day.”

McCarron was responsible for bringing the ROCOL range to Orange, and has since built up a trusted relationship with many of his customers who respect his expertise and his team’s judgement when it comes to using these oils and greases. Why is this range of greases and oils popular in the food and beverage space? Because they offer cost savings in ways some customers don’t think about, according to McCarron.

“One of the key elements we found is that the oils and greases cover a lot of uses,” he said. “In some instances, you only need one on the shelf. For example, with some of ROCOL® oils, as well as using them for what they are designed to do in the food and beverage industry, they can be used for servicing other machinery like gearboxes and chains on conveyor belts. You do not have to carry two types of oil.”

Emilio Seballos is the territory sales manager for ITW, and he said there is a philosophy behind the use of these oils and greases for the food industry.

“If you look at our offerings, they are a tight range. The reason for that is that we try and work on rationalisation and simplification. We try and cut down on the amount of lubrication you are carrying on site,” said Seballos. “That is a big focus for us; the rationalisation and simplification to help our customers be more productive.  Also, because it is a high-quality, synthetic lubricant, the interval between lubrication events is going to be longer, so you get cost savings, but more importantly your line runs without interruption for longer too.”

Working in tandem with BSC, ITW knows that this range can be the answer to a lot of manufacturing and processing plants by making sure plant and machinery don’t become contaminated if there is leakage from machinery. The range is made with FDA-approved ingredients and are also NSF and HACCP approved. Seballos points out that there are no allergens or GM content in the ROCOL lubrication range.

“Some of the issues within the industry that were starting to come up were a lot to do with compliance. That was the biggest thing in the food industry from a lubrication standpoint,” said Seballos.

“You take something like harvesting grapes or walnuts – a lot of those harvesting machines are running hydraulics. Incidental contamination from leaks of non-food grade oil may lead to the loss of the whole batch of product you have just harvested. If it happens when you’re out in the field, it could be over the vines or trees, too. You’ve contaminated the whole area where these hydraulic lines are leaking.”

BSC and ITW have a symbiotic relationship, which in turn is a win-win situation for our customers.  “Our relationship with ITW is great,” said BSC’s Mccarron. “They offer us a lot of support, which means we can give our customers a lot of support too.”

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Harvesting the benefits of lubricants in farm equipment

For cane and broadacre farmers, maximising crop yield is a constant challenge. To confront this challenge, farmers can turn to a number of different solutions, such as soil testing, changing chemical treatments, and better utilising fertilisers. A commonly under-utilised method, however, is to treat harvesters with better-quality lubricants.

“Essentially, you want to get the same level of cut from the start to the end of your paddock,” Gulf Western Oil’s National Account Manager, Christopher Bright, said.

“If you have a hydraulic fluid that is eternally shearing down, what happens is your harvester will drop its blades down to the ground, and then you’ll end up in a situation where you start picking up the dirt, or the bottom of the cane or the grain for example, which is not then able to be used for harvest.”

To maximise the level of the cut, and avoid that dropping effect, lubricants play a very important part.

“One of the products that we provide, the Gulf Harvester, is designed specifically for the harvester and to reduce the thinning effect that happens with hydraulic fluids over temperature – this controls the minimising shearing effect, therefore you get the same level of cut,” Bright said.

“One of the products that we provide, the Gulf Harvester, is designed specifically for the harvester with a new highly shear stable viscosity modifier that minimises the thinning effect that the fluid experiences as operating temperature increases, therefore you get the same level of cut throughout the day”, Bright said.

Recently, GWO reformulated the Gulf Harvester due to an advancement in the technology. In 2019, the fluid formula was changed to incorporate one of the most shear stable viscosity modifiers available in the global market.

The Gulf Harvester is a premium grade, high viscosity index, super shear stable hydraulic oil designed specifically for extreme applications where very high temperatures are common, such as cane harvesters. It is formulated with extremely shear stable additives offering minimal viscosity loss, minimal oxidation and thermal stability.

“Because of this, the Gulf Harvester outperforms its competitors, which are good products but they are still using the old technology before the advancements in 2019. So, they have that issue where, over time, they deteriorate and they shear down, which ultimately changes the cut,” Bright said.

“It’s like upgrading from a Plasma TV screen to an LCD. The market may be going well, but this is a significant enhancement. We’ve upgraded to one of the most shear stable viscosity modifiers available on the global scale.”

According to distributor BSC’s National Product Manager, Steve Keown, this technology is especially significant because farmers have a limited window in which to sow and harvest crops.

“The Gulf Western Harvester provides protection to the highly stressed hydraulics systems of the modern-day harvester, resulting in less time spent on maintenance and letting farmers get on with the job.”

Keown emphasised BSC’s presence in the Australian agriculture market – the company has been around since 1921. Moreover, ‘BSC AG’ is a newly developed division of BSC that has been created specifically for this market, wholly specialising in agricultural products for broad acre farmers. Alongside harvester lubrications, BSC distributes lubricants for all farm equipment.

“From heavy duty diesel engine, drive line and ancillary system lubricants, through to bespoke lubrication solutions, our customers rely on us to have a large amount of stock available,” Keown said.

With its national branch network, BSC has built a reputation as a respected distributor of products to the Australian agricultural market. Through BSC’s network, they have the capability to deliver parts directly to the farm.

The brand’s large presence means, not only that they have access to the significant technical expertise for bespoke solutions, but that they are agile one-stop shop for farm equipment, from procurement to maintenance and more. As such, BSC is constantly adapting to the changing demands of the market.

The relationship between BSC and GWO is ideal in that BSC can provide the support in the field and are available to customers 24/7, while GWO keep their pulse on the market with an ever-evolving line of high-quality lubricants.

“Harvesting and agriculture is the backbone of our business – it’s what we’re known for,” Bright said.

While Keown reiterates, “BSC customers rely on the advice we provide them as well as our ability to deliver products and services around the clock. We’re proud to have GWO in our portfolio as their products are of such a high standard.”

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