Current trends in lube products

What’s new in lubricants within the transport and automotive industries? Viva Energy Australia's Technical Hub Manager, Rob Cavicchiolo, talks about current trends and how businesses can maintain a high level of efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

One of the biggest concerns for transport companies is keeping their trucks on the road for longer. In fact, many of our customers look to us to help them identify and implement cost savings, drive efficiency improvements and provide specialist advice and training. Their assets need to perform around the clock, in all environments and in often demanding conditions and lubricants can play an important part in achieving these objectives.

One way many businesses seek to get the most out of their assets is by extending the interval between oil changes, known as the oil drain interval (ODI). In industries such as road transport, the ODIs in trucks can be extended significantly through the use of better lubricants, resulting in substantial cost savings.

OEM (original equipment manufacturer) recommendations and guidelines, however, should always be consulted and oil analysis conducted beforehand, to assess if there might be any impact on warranties or equipment reliability.

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The benefits of synthetic technology

Manufacturers are continually changing their designs, placing new and often tougher demands on lubricants, which means the lubricants industry needs to meet these specifications by designing oils that last the distance. Synthetic oils are one solution to these demands.

The use of synthetic lubricants has increased over recent years due to the technical benefits they offer, such as better low and high temperature performance, higher viscosity index, thermal stability, greater resistance to oxidation and increased wear protection.

Customers often run their assets beyond manufacturer's recommendations, resulting in more stress on the oil. Where a mineral oil may have traditionally been used to counteract wear and tear and provide adequate lubrication, there’s now a shift towards synthetics to overcome shortfalls in performance.

For example, one of our customers was able to extend the drain interval for their line haul transmissions up to 800,000km using a synthetic oil, up from a standard drain interval of 100,000km. This results in reduced labour and parts costs, and allows trucks to be on the road for longer by providing some safety margin in the event that the trucks do go over their nominated ODI.

Synthetic oils can also be used across the whole drive train (engine, transmission, axle/differential), with the potential to deliver considerable fuel efficiency and savings.

State-of-the-art design

In the automotive sector there are design reasons why lubricants need to change to keep up. Manufacturers are designing new vehicles with smaller oil capacities that require the oil to be drained over longer intervals, while using lower viscosity grades. These design elements, better fuel efficiencies and meeting vehicle emission requirements are all creating a demand for high-performing lubricants.

Shell's new gas to liquids (GTL) products are an example of technology leading the charge in helping with challenges facing the automotive sector. These products are created by converting natural gas into crystal-clear base oils with virtually none of the impurities found in crude oil.

The role of technical support

The technical support and advice that the lubricant industry can offer is as refined as the oils themselves. Viva Energy employs a team of local experts who provide support across a range of industries.

This support manifests in two ways. One is through experienced technical specialists based at Viva Energy who can deal with customers’ day-to-day queries. Additionally, there are Viva Energy technical staff who work in the field with customers and who have an acute understanding of customers’ processes and equipment.

Assistance may be in the form of recommendations for lubricants for different vehicles, field lubricant surveys, grease audits, training, cost-saving initiative projects or running ODI trials. There are also additional services such as LubeAnalyst, an oil-condition monitoring service.

Viva Energy's relationship with Shell means we can access technical information from their lubricant experts. The ability to tap into this vast knowledge bank means we can share best practices, understand new lubricant trends and developments, and remain abreast of OEM technology, as well as have an avenue for obtaining in-depth advice that we can pass on to customers.

Keeping abreast of advances in lubricants, and working with a company that can offer comprehensive technical support, is vital for maintaining the reliability of your vehicles and achieving the performance you want in today’s environment.

If you're after technical support, feel free to contact our technical helpdesk on

1300 134 205 or

email us here

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