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Shell looks to change the way fleets change their oil

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - Shell has introduced a new oil change service to the Canadian market that allows operators to do a complete oil change in as little as five minutes when the engine's hot, without a...

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. –Shell has introduced a new oil change service to the Canadian market that allows operators to do a complete oil change in as little as five minutes when the engine’s hot, without any of the mess that normally accompanies such work.

Shell LubeExpress is a new service being rolled out in Canada, which involves the closed-loop ESOC (Environmentally Safe Oil Change) machine that uses purged air to quickly remove old oil, resulting in a more complete oil change, the company announced during a recent customer demonstration.

To use the machine, a truck must first be fitted with the necessary couplings to accommodate two hoses, one of which purges the used oil and the other which replenishes the engine with fresh oil. The couplings cost about $70 and can be installed in as little as 10 minutes using existing ports at the oil inlet and drain pan, the company claims. New trucks can be spec’d with the required connections, Shell’s Chris Guerrero added.

When a truck requires an oil change, the air line purges the entire engine and filter while the oil’s still hot, ensuring the complete removal of contaminants that will be suspended rather than settled. When the oil is purged into the drain pan, the mechanic can begin removing the oil filter (the purged air ensures it cools quickly) or conducting other preventive maintenance.

Using purged air ensures the old oil is completely removed from every nook and cranny, explained Michele Collins, business manager with ESOC Commercial Truck, manufacturer of the machine.

“Because you’re using air purging, you’re getting all the contaminants and sludge out of all the recesses, so you’re getting a cleaner oil change and extending the life of your engine,” she said.

The operator follows simple prompts via the machine’s touchscreen display to complete the oil change, including entering the amount of new oil required and whether or not an oil sample is desired. Pulling an oil sample is as simple as placing a bottle in the indicated location on the machine and since the oil is pulled mid-stream, the results are more reliable, Guerrero pointed out.

“You’re getting a good sample, you’re not getting the sediment that’s settled in the bottom,” he said.

If the operator should overfill the engine with fresh oil, the machine has the ability to remove the precise amount of the overfill, eliminating guesswork. But by entering the required quantity (in quarts or litres) into the touch screen display, overfills should be eliminated, Collins pointed out.

Another advantage of the system is that oil pressure is built up instantly when the fresh oil is added, so there’s no dry start which can cause bearing burn, Collins explained.

There are environmental benefits to the machine as well. Because it’s a closed-loop system, there’s no spillage and the used oil is routed directly to the waste oil tank. The system also removes most of the oil from the old oil filter, creating a safer and cleaner environment for mechanics when removing the filter.

Guerrero said Shell LubeExpress will change the way fleets change their oil, an evolution he said is overdue.

“We change oil the way we change oil, because that’s the way we’ve always changed oil,” he said. He pointed out the system is already gaining credence in other parts of the world, especially the Asia-Pacific region where roughly 100 machines have been deployed in recent months. The system is currently in the pilot stage in the US.

Here in Canada, Guerrero said fleets with trucks that usually return to their home facility for oil changes will benefit the most.

“If you use a lot of external facilities and don’t do oil changes inhouse, this may not be for you,” he said. Fleets looking to add the system can negotiate the price into their lubricant supply deals with Shell, and the oil company will provide installation assistance, operator training and ongoing support.

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