Yes! That’s the simple and definitive answer. Viscosity is the most important feature of a lubricant, so ignoring it can lead to all sorts of problems with your equipment.
Viscosity is the measure of a lubricant’s resistance to flow under specific conditions. In other words, it’s how hard a lubricant works to stay put when the machinery components are pushing on it. The main job of a lubricant it to create a film which protects the components and reduces friction between them, so viscosity really is very important.
The viscosity of a lubricant determines the film thickness and strength in your equipment, and it also influences the factors below.
- Equipment wear – reduced lubricant film leads to increased friction
- Lubricant temperature – increased friction increases operating temperatures
- Impact of contamination – a thin lubricant film will allow contaminants more contact with the equipment
- Energy consumption – the more friction and work in a machine, the higher the energy consumption
It is important to remember when selecting your lubricants that the ISO viscosity grading system only reports the viscosity of a lubricant at a standard 40 degrees Celcius. If you have equipment that operates at higher or lower temperatures, it may be necessary to look at a different ISO grade than the one recommended. Temperature has the biggest impact on lubricant viscosity, so this should always be a key part of the decision making process.
Understanding viscosity can sometimes seem complicated, especially when there are other factors to take into account. However, it’s worth taking the time to get the decision right, as the impact of using the incorrect product could be significant, leading to damage, downtime and expense. As a starting point, always refer to the Original Equipment Manufacturer’s (OEM) recommendation, and then consider your operating conditions and any external factors.