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Case Study: Synthetic Gear Oil at Papier Masson


October 1, 2004
By Pulp & Paper Canada
The synthetic oil worked under exacting conditions.

Papier Masson’s 300 employees produce newsprint for the Canadian and American newspaper industries from its plant in Masson-Anger, QC, which is located near the Ottawa River, about a 30-minute drive east of Ottawa. The company was formed in 1999 f…

Papier Masson’s 300 employees produce newsprint for the Canadian and American newspaper industries from its plant in Masson-Anger, QC, which is located near the Ottawa River, about a 30-minute drive east of Ottawa. The company was formed in 1999 from the former James McLaren Company, a pulp and paper business that had been active for 70 years.

Ghislain Blanchard, mechanical maintenance foreman at Papier Masson, decided to review the maintenance schedules for the mill’s manufacturing processes shortly after this transition. As part of the review, Blanchard recommended trying a synthetic gear oil for their gear box.

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“I’ve been working for pulp and paper companies for more than 15 years and know that there are a lot of things to watch for, lots that can go wrong,” said Alain Dubois, superintendent of technical maintenance. “You constantly need to check, among other things, the gear boxes, the condition of the oil and any clogging that could stop the process. In other words, we mostly try to avoid any possible damage to the machines and keep production running”.

It was noted that with the high temperatures attained by constant operations, a significant amount of varnish was accumulating in the paper machine’s Hansen gear box. This is a common problem in high-heat operations such as pulp and paper mills where varnish can build up on the gears as a result of lubricant break down, contributing to wear and decreased performance.

“We have an 18 year-old machine that works full time producing over 650 tonnes (716 tons) of paper daily,” explained Dubois. “It works round-the-clock and outputs the equivalent of 240,000 tonnes (264,000 tons) of paper per year”.

The mill had previously been using a mineral-based gear oil and Blanchard speculated that by switching to synthetic oil the problem of the varnish build-up would be eliminated, reducing the amount of time the machine had to be stopped, cleaned and re-set.

“Since we started using the synthetic, we have noticed major positive changes,” explained Blanchard. “Now we have less varnish accumulation in the gear box. We quickly realized that we had minimized our handling time, our change-out frequency and therefore our costs”.

The synthetic oil they chose was Petro-Canada’s Ultima Synthetic EP gear oils which are designed for enclosed industrial gears and bearings operating under severe load conditions. They are formulated using advanced synthetic base oils and additive technologies to deliver reduced friction, and outstanding oxidative and thermal stability for extended fluid and component life.

By switching to the synthetic oil, Papier Masson has cut its oil change outs in half, going from one change every six months to one change per year. Fewer changes, less downtime, more reliability have all added up to savings, especially when the maintenance man-hours spent draining and replacing the oil and filters are factored in.

“It has improved gear box efficiency and reduced overall consumption, allowing us to double the lifetime of the oil,” said Dubois. “Even if the purchase price of the product might be slightly more than the previous oil we used, it has a longer life, requires fewer repairs, and means less down-time, so overall, it saves us money”.


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