SEEING BEYOND THE BRAND: PROBLEMS IN LUBRICANT OBJECTIVITY

Lubricant selections are continuously increasing. As technology develops, so to do Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) requirements and the lubricant options to meet these requirements.

Oil Marketing Companies utilise their branding to appeal to customers with their look, feel, and language. They differentiate themselves from one another through their marketing campaigns.

They use words like ‘Ultra’ and ‘PurePlus’ and ‘Egde’ in the naming of their products to appeal to the customer. These words have no bearing on the products themselves and tell us nothing about the purpose of the products. This creates a host of problems when it comes to lubricant selection and creates difficulties in any attempts to be objective. Complexities in product comparisons mean that it becomes difficult to purchase purely for purpose. Your understanding of what is the same and what isn’t becomes completely obscured by branding practices.

A small sample of some of the options of 15W40 heavy duty diesel engine oil. Despite all products being similar, they are not the same and selecting the right product becomes complicated and requires specialist knowledge.

Lubricant understanding, as well as expertise in any field, can be thought of as a pyramid. The largest section at the bottom consists of those with minimal understanding. As you move up and understanding increases, so the numbers within each section get smaller. Even those who you would expect to have an understanding of lubricants in terms of their occupation, overwhelmingly lack the knowledge needed to make informed lubricant decisions. 

An astounding 44% of mining maintenance managers believe all lubricants provide the same level of performance. That’s very similar to thinking all cars provide the same level of performance. We all know this is simply not true. The off-road capabilities of a Citi Golf would not be likened to those of a Toyota Hilux. Similarly, a petrol engine oil and a diesel engine oil cannot be seen or used for the same purpose.

On a more subtle level, an Audi sedan and a BMW sedan may be very similar, but it is incorrect to say they are the same. So too a 15W40 Heavy Duty Diesel Engine Oil should not be compared or used for the same purpose as a 10W30 Heavy Duty Diesel Engine Oil. This is where intricacies come into play.

Oil Marketing Companies and OEMs rely on this lack of understanding to sell their products. Deciphering information around lubricants can be complicated and it is easy to get bogged down in the technicalities. It is even easier to simply step away from the task and go with what is recommended by the Oil Marketing Company or OEM. Regardless of the costs, both direct and indirect.

To overcome this, a system of lubricant comparison across brands and identification based on specification and application is necessary.