For decades, oil changes have been a rather straightforward, labor-intensive necessity for any well-maintained fleet. Technicians have spent hours on the ritual of removing oil plugs and catching the oil into a container. Then, they unscrew the used oil filters while trying to minimize any spillage. Finally, new oil is added to the engine, often though a funnel.
Drawbacks of this technique include the time involved and the potential for spills during each task, not to mention the risks of working around hot oil or lifting heavy pails. Fortunately, technology can now simplify the oil change process and reduce spill hazards.
Oil change systems come mounted on skids, trailers or trucks, though most contractors invest in lube skids because of their versatility. You can move a skid from one vehicle to another, and easily transport it around a jobsite for quick fills as needed.
"If you break a hose, you have oil to replenish the system when it is repaired and get it back in operation," Robb Hayes, Valley Engineering, points out.
The biggest benefit of such sealed oil change systems is reduced liability exposure. "All it takes is one spill to justify the investment," says Hayes. "The time and labor savings are enormous. The technician doesn't have to fight cans, buckets, etc. Also, we have dedicated waste antifreeze recovery systems so nothing contaminates the jobsite."
Faster, cleaner changes
Every oil change system has its unique features. For example, Valley Engineering uses dedicated pumps for each system. "We don't pressurize any tanks. One thing with pressurizing tanks is there is moisture in air," Hayes asserts. "You have to be careful about filtering the air that you pressurize."
Because new oil can often become contaminated during transport and handling, the company's Lube Mate system provides the option to pre-filter new oil before it is dispensed. "For people that request it, we put filters on for the oil just prior to going through the hose reel," says Hayes. "That allows virtually no chance of contamination. It is clean in case they have contamination upstream."
The Lube Mate can be used with or without quick couplers. "We do like to see people use quick couplers," Hayes comments. "That is quicker and easier, no doubt about it. There would be no spillage when you connect or disconnect." The system does come furnished with a drain pan, since not every piece of equipment will have a quick coupler.
Sage Oil Vac's oil change system lets you change hot oil in a matter of minutes. "The Sage Oil Vac process is completely enclosed when using quick-connect fittings and vacuum filling with the Barrel Straw," says Kevin Baker, sales manager.
Because the system is self-contained, it means no spills or resulting EPA fines. The Barrel Straw and vacuum system eliminate the need for 5-gal. buckets or drums of oil to refill new oil tanks. The quick-connect system creates a tight seal as you vacuum old oil out of the engine and replace it with fresh oil. A Filter Stinger is also available to remove oil from the old filter before it is spun off.
"By vacuuming fresh oil directly into new oil tanks, you can greatly reduce the chance of contaminants entering the oil," says Baker.
Lube trucks utilize small above-deck gas engine-driven air compressors that run 70% less than large engine-driven air compressors running a pumping system, Baker states. "This is an important savings in today's truck engines regarding fuel consumption and diesel particulate filters," he adds. "With skids, Sage Oil Vac designs models that work with a customer's existing air compressor on the truck."
The air compressor creates vacuum and pressure in the product tanks. "Techs utilize vacuum and pressure to evacuate and refill fluids, not air of hydraulic-driven pumps," Baker explains. As a result, the flow of new oil is smoother and more consistent, enabling fresh oil tanks to be vacuum filled at a rate of 10 to 20 gpm. "This is an important savings of time when considering the complete maintenance process from start to finish. New oil filters are standard on all Sage Oil Vac lube equipment so that fresh oil passes through the oil filters before being dispensed."