Next month will see the introduction of API CK-4 and API FA-4—a development that represents the biggest industry overhaul in heavy-duty engine oil specifications for decades. Driven by changes in environmental policy and the need to support the rapid development of heavy-duty vehicle technology, the specifications set a new standard for diesel engine lubricants.

The two new categories of heavy-duty engine oils, labeled API CK-4 and API FA-4, provide improved performance—but each is aimed at a different type of diesel engine.
The two new categories of heavy-duty engine oils, labeled API CK-4 and API FA-4, provide improved performance—but each is aimed at a different type of diesel engine.

Next month will see the introduction of API CK-4 and API FA-4—a development that represents the biggest industry overhaul in heavy-duty engine oil specifications for decades. Driven by changes in environmental policy and the need to support the rapid development of heavy-duty vehicle technology, the specifications set a new standard for diesel engine lubricants.

Fleet managers and independent owner operators will now be faced with two more options from their oil suppliers and there may still be confusion about how this will affect their fleets.

What’s Different?

Both oil categories are designed to be more robust and resistant to oxidation compared with those currently on the market. This has become necessary in recent years as newer engines run at higher temperature in order to improve operating efficiency. However, higher temperatures accelerate the rate of oxidation and oil thickening. Improving oxidation resistance may mean that, alongside proper oil filtration, longer oil drain intervals may be achieved.

Of particular relevance to mining fleet operators, the new oil categories are designed to improve resistance to aeration and provide increased shear stability for new levels of stay-in-grade performance under different operating conditions. Improving aeration control is important for off-road engines where, in some cases, more air than usual could become entrained in the engine oil. A high level of air entrainment is dangerous, particularly at the bearings where a suitable oil film is critical to protect the surfaces.

Taken together, these design improvements will provide enhanced performance, greater hardware protection and may reduce vehicle downtime. However, it is crucial that mining fleet operators understand which subcategory will be most suitable for their vehicles.

API CK-4 licensed oils will offer backward compatibility, allowing use in the vast majority of older diesel engine vehicles that ran previous oil categories (CJ-4, CI-4 Plus, CI-4, etc.) while offering increased performance and protection gains.

Meanwhile, API FA-4 oils will have a lower viscosity, meaning less friction in the engine. This will enable a reduction in fuel consumption while still offering increased levels of wear protection. However, FA-4 oils are specifically designed for newer on-road vehicles and will have limited backward compatibility. As many older engines are not designed to operate with such low viscosity oils, using FA-4 oils in these engines could damage hardware if used for an extended period of time.

API FA-4 oils are not expected to have an immediate impact on mining fleets, and off-road Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) will likely recommend the use of API CK-4 oils. Feedback from engine manufacturers has shown that only some of the on-road Class 8 engine producers will take advantage of new FA-4 oils at the start of the category. However, future heavy-duty fleet vehicles will be designed to comply with this specification to offer higher levels of fuel efficiency.

The API announced the introduction of a special service “donut” symbol to help consumers identify the FA-4 and CK-4 diesel engine oils right from the packaging label. It is advised that mining fleet operators consult their engine/vehicle OEM manuals to ensure they choose the correct oil for their vehicle.

Time to Prepare

Petro-Canada Lubricants, a Suncor Energy business, sees the introduction of API CK-4 and FA-4 as not only an opportunity to improve the efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint of mining fleets, but also a chance to recognize the potential to cut costs and increase profitability. While every business will be affected by the new specifications, the impact will vary depending on the size and type of fleet.

Petro-Canada Lubricants has formulated its new DURON next-generation product line to deliver enhanced durability and help protect engines working in all industries and in the toughest environments. For more information, visit www.DURONthetougherthebetter.com.

Brian Humphrey is OEM technical liaison, Petro-Canada Lubricants, Suncor.

Camera System Keeps Watch Over Codelco’s Radomiro Tomic Pit

Mining copper in Codelco’s Radomiro Tomic mine, 3,000 m above sea level in the Atacama desert of northern Chile, can be a rough, rugged and sometimes dangerous experience. Almost weekly, strong winds bring operations to a halt for an hour or two, while thick dust clouds or avalanches are ongoing hazards for equipment operators hauling ore out of the huge pit, which measures 3,500 m long, 1,500 m wide and 470 m deep.

In order to maintain operational efficiency and safety across the mine, a large team of geotechnical experts monitors the operations 24/7 from a nearby central location, making decisions needed to safeguard personnel, machinery and roads while keeping production interruptions to a minimum. This facility uses input from 11 Bosch cameras to provide the observational insights the team needs to ensure smooth and safe operations, in every type of weather and lighting—or lack of it.

Six Bosch MIC 412 and MIC 612 thermal cameras provide standard and thermal video pictures, allowing team members to visualize external and even internal ground conditions such as changes in rock temperature, to identify in advance rock faces that may become unstable. Another four Bosch MIC 550 cameras, plus an MIC IP starlight 7000 HD camera with infrared illumination, provide further video imagery around the clock, even in complete darkness.

Engineered to work in extreme conditions, the cameras feature solid metal bodies that can withstand high impact (up to IK10 rating) and continuous low-frequency vibration (IEC 60068 rating). MIC cameras can endure temperatures from -40° to +60°C, severe winds and 100% humidity, and are rated IP68.

The thermal, infrared and starlight cameras are all part of a complete Bosch reporting system, which forms the basis for observing the entire mine—from capturing images in the open pit to transmitting the videos wirelessly via radio networks to the monitoring center. It enables team experts to constantly view and monitor operations in the pit and initiate preventive security measures if necessary. The system also records video via a Bosch DIVAR IP 7000 recording unit, allowing monitoring center personnel to carry out search queries for historical data analysis and an improved understanding of mine conditions.

Almost a dozen Bosch cameras—including those with standard video, thermal and infrared capabilities—monitor conditions at this Codelco copper operation.

Resource Center Whitepapers, Videos, Case Studies

Let's stay in touch!

All of the latest mining news and our digital edition sent to your inbox once a week.

We'll never share your email address, and you can opt out at any time, we promise.