The focus in the oils and lubricants industry is constantly being shifted to address regulations that arise, which, in turn, creates a need to establish a better understanding of tribology in the industry, says the South African Institute of Tribology (Sait).
Tribology is the science of friction and the interaction of moving surfaces. Sait president Thomas Surmon points out that the institute is assisting the lubricants industry by offering a range of training courses that inform industry on the regulations pertaining to lubricants.
“The lubricant engineering courses, which are facilitated throughout the year and take place in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, are designed to focus on tribology from an engineering perspective and include a spectrum of 20 different subjects.
Our courses began this month and are already fully booked for the first half of the year. We have had to add sessions to facilitate all the interest from stakeholders in the industry,” Surmon notes.
Although Sait has a corporate and private membership of 238 and a database of 900 nonmembers, the courses are aimed at various maintenance personnel, as well as those involved in the operation, maintenance, condition monitoring and management of an industrial plant. Students interested in tribology are also regular attendees at the courses.
“Many newly qualified engineers use the lubrication engineering training course as part of their government engineering competence requirements and have initiated projects in their respective companies to gain the full benefits of tribological practices. Marketing personnel can gain valuable knowledge from the course too,” Surmon adds.
Moreover, Sait is working closely with the Department of Science and Technology, as well as the South African Bureau of Standards, to ensure that local lubricant standards match current international standards.
“We are driving [the promotion of] energy efficiency and [the development of] preventive maintenance strategies to enable our local industries to cost effectively compete in the international arena,” he points out.
For instance, he mentions that the latest specification (GF6) from the International Lubricants Standardisation and Approval Committee states that engine chain wear and low-speed preignition tests have to be conducted. These are new tests developed to address modern performance and maintenance issues, as well as damage caused by the use of incorrect lubricants.
There has also been more focus on friction reduction and engine and catalytic converter protection, as well as emission reduction.
“As products are constantly being improved to combat these issues, it is up to organisations such as Sait to ensure that changes benefit the South African industry,” concludes Surmon.