Carriers can leverage lube supplier expertise for more than just buying oil

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Updated Mar 25, 2020

Gear oil. Engine oil. Diesel exhaust fluid. Coolant. The list of fluids sitting on the shop floor and shelves is long and expensive.

For fleets running a mix of equipment, carrying various fluid grades and type may seem unavoidable but a fleet’s oil distributor can also offer expertise on management and potential consolidation.

“There’s a lot of pressure for cost optimization,” said Darryl Purificati, OEM technical liaison at Petro-Canada Lubricants. “How do fleet managers get around that? Ease of operations and simplification of operations, and management of fluids can help with that.”

In a role that is more consultive than sales, a carrier’s lubricant representative can help evaluate specific fluid needs and aid with “finding the right fluid that is the correct choice across all the platforms,” Purificati said. “It’s a balance of operations wanting one fluid that does everything and the OEM requirements of a specific fluid for specific applications. You may end up with a grouping of different viscosity and performance, and it’s managing the minimum number of fluids while still meeting all the performance metrics.”

Through its Lube Advisor Program, Shell Lubricants will take a deep dive into a carrier’s needs and, hand-in-hand with the fleet, determine the best method to address them.

“It’s an in-depth analysis of the facility to look at how [fluids] are stored and dispensed and, and also looking at the possibility to reduce the number fo fluids,” said Jeff Priborsky, Shell Lubricants global marketing manager, on-highway fleet sector, “And also look for misapplication. You need somebody who can look at your place holistically and make sure you are meeting all your OEM specifications.”

In its traveling lab, James Booth, commercial sector manager at Chevron, can walk attendees through the various components of a truck and how proper fluids affect their lifecycles.In its traveling lab, James Booth, commercial sector manager at Chevron, can walk attendees through the various components of a truck and how proper fluids affect their lifecycles.

That holistic approach includes more than a simple checklist looking at fluids.

“We’re going back in the parts room. We’re making sure the parts are rotated,” Priborsky said, adding that advisors commonly find that fleets are using extended life coolants but are still buying pre-charged coolant filters where they should be purchasing blank coolant filters. “That costs more and it has a negative effect on the coolant chemistry,” he said.

Priborsky and Purificati both agreed that carriers can use any brand of lubrication or coolant they want, adding their roles were to ensure proper application first and foremost, regardless if their company’s fluids are used across the board.

“Anybody can deliver oil to you,” Priborsky said, “but who is actually going to bing the value to you?”

“Having a single supplier is so much easier than multiple suppliers, but there are so many things that a single supplier doesn’t produce,” Purificati said. “In those cases, we would help source fluids that they don’t manufacture.”

Not all consults and education has to take place on the shop floor. Chevron Lubricants’ Delo SmartChoice HDEO Product Recommendation is an online platform that helps fleets choose the proper fluids by segment and use case. There is also an online chat component built into the platform.

For the last 20 years the Delo Truck has been a staple on the trucking trade show floor, but last year the company unveiled the Delo Traveling Technology Lab, with 11 exhibits that include immersive and interactive educational experiences. More modern-day museum than rolling demo unit, the trailer-based lab combines self-navigated and expert-guided experiences to help visitors gain insight into the latest truck technology trends and the business issues driving them.

James Booth, commercial sector manager at Chevron, said the traveling campaign was launched “in recognition of our customers’ need for better education and solutions to drive their business forward.”

Part of Delo’s traveling lab is an interactive exercise where fleets use model pieces to design their idea of the best shop floor layout. At the end, Delo representatives review their work and offer suggestions on how it could have been better.Part of Delo’s traveling lab is an interactive exercise where fleets use model pieces to design their idea of the best shop floor layout. At the end, Delo representatives review their work and offer suggestions on how it could have been better.