Fleet criteria for oil filters can be summed up in two words: product performance. Truck operators want to be sure their oil filtration products will last through to their desired oil drain intervals, while safely protecting their heavy equipment investment.
The '02 emissions-compliant engines are of special concern to fleets that extend drain intervals. Filter makers are sympathetic to their questions about the long-term effects of the new engines on oil and filter life.
Since the new engines have only been in real-world service for a little over a year, filter companies say it's still too soon to tell how serious a problem the higher engine temperatures and increased soot and acid levels will be. However, they're actively studying the situation and expect to have more solid information by next year. In the meantime, they continue to introduce new filter products with improved capacity and efficiency.
Luber-Finer has developed some test standards for measuring soot and acid levels in oil that it says could be used as a baseline for the industry. It will introduce a product early next year that combines the ease and convenience of a spin-on design with bypass filtration. It has a sophisticated filter media to handle the demands of the new engines.
Donaldson says that the biggest challenges facing filter manufacturers is the lack of an industry standard for measuring a filter's ability to remove soot, and the lack of quantitative data to determine just how much extra soot the '02 engines are producing. The filter maker strongly recommends fleets do oil analysis on a regular basis.
Donaldson notes that because soot in oil is so difficult to filter using standard filtration mechanisms, filter suppliers must come up with new technology solutions.
Baldwin Filters says new filter media technology is helping to improve contaminant removal capabilities and extend product life. About a year ago, the company introduced a high-velocity lube filter line to help oil stay cleaner over time. The filter is a combination full-flow/bypass filter that uses a Venturi nozzle, allowing more fluid to be drawn through the bypass section. Since the full-flow portion doesn't have to trap as many contaminants, it should last longer.
FRAM stresses the importance of having the right filter for the job and provides a diverse product line to meet a variety of situations. For example, while the company primarily manufactures full-flow filters, it also co-distributes the puraDYN bypass filter through a complementary relationship with that company.
For customers interested in extending drain intervals, FRAM recently repositioned its Wearguard HD filter, which uses new filtration media that make it possible to increase capacity without sacrificing efficiency.
Several Racor products are available for the aftermarket: a cleanable filter that helps reduce the waste stream as well as costs associated with filter changes and disposal; a bypass filter designed to keep oil clean for longer periods; and a unit that combines both the cleanable and bypass features into one filter. For OEMs, Racor offers a top-load disposal oil filter that contains no metal so it can be easily crushed to a very small size.
Fleetguard acknowledges how difficult it is for fleets to understand the impact of the '02 engines, including the additional costs in operating them. The company points out that as an organic contaminant that starts at the sub-micron level, soot is extremely difficult to filter out.
To help remove organic sludge, Fleetguard has introduced a new line of centrifugal products, called Centriguard, which features Fleetguard's SpiraTec technology (centrifugal bypass filtration). The product is designed to reduce soot levels in oil up to 50%.
To address the problem of higher soot loads in '02 engines, Spinner II developed two oil-cleaning centrifuges that have 50% more dirt holding capacity. Model 936 has a flow rate of 1 gpm; model 960 has a flow rate of 2 gpm to accommodate larger engines.
Spinner II notes that oil cleaning and filtration products will continue evolving as emissions standards become even tougher.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CIRCLE NUMBER ON REPLY CARD:
Baldwin Filters 310
Racor Div, Parker Hannifin 316
Spinner II Div., T.F.Hudgins 317
Wix Filtration Products Div., Dana Corp. 318