Sustainability in textile production: "Lubricants are highly effective components."

Christian Forster knows how to optimise the effiency of machines.

Christian Forster has been working at Klüber Lubrication for more than 20 years. In his function as market manager for the textile industry, Christian Forster serves and advises both OEMs and end customers in selecting and applying the right lubricants, aiming at more efficiency in textile production. In this interview, he explains what makes the textile industry so fascinating for him, and how lubricants can impact your sustainability balance in this field.

In what way do lubricants contribute to improved production in the textile industry?

Forster: "The decisive factors are higher productivity and more efficiency. What must be recognised is that lubricants are an integral part of machine design. Without the right lubricant, a textile machine cannot operate smoothly. For this reason, we at Klüber Lubrication play an active part as partners in the development and design of machinery. By doing so, the energy balance, workplace safety features and efficiency of machines can be optimised right from the start."

How is workplace safety linked to lubricants?

Forster: "For example rolling bearings or gears are frequently mounted at a certain height, such as three metres up the machine. If a manufacturer uses an industrial lubricant not specifically developed for the requirements of textile production, a worker has to relubricate the bearing at short intervals. With  optimised lubrication, these jobs and hence the risk for the employee can be reduced considerably."

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And how can speciality lubricants positively influence sustainability in the textile industry?

Forster: "By increasing productivity tremendously! It is especially synthetic lubricants that offer enormous potential in this respect. A synthetic base oil and a carefully composed additive package contribute to higher performance, longer service intervals and a reduced contamination risk. This also reduces the risk of the fabric being contaminated and rendered unfit for use. Consequently, the volume of reject fabric is reduced for the manufacturer. At the same time there is less downtime of machines and lower maintenance costs, leading to an increase in overall productivity. In addition, the strain on natural resources is reduced. With synthetic lubricants, minimum-quantity lubrication becomes possible. Because of their particular friction behaviour, small quantities may suffice to ensure sustainable lubrication, which makes these lubricants highly effective components in the manufacture of textiles. They enable manufacturers to reduce the strain on resources not only in the production of lubricants, but also in terms of lubricant disposal quantities."

What are the decisive factors enabling you to find the matching solution for your customers?

Forster: "For me, three factors are important. Firstly: to understand the application. Manufacturing techniques in the textile industry are all quite different, from the precision engineering required for knitting to the large machinery used in weaving and finishing. To optimise the performance and productivity of these machines, one needs to understand how they work - and we have profound experience with this type of equipment. Secondly, to understand the manufacturing process: In wet finishing, the textile industry uses e.g. alkaline and acidic solutions that can decompose the lubricant and damage components. Using the right lubricant can help prevent the premature failure of machine elements.  Finally, sound consultation at the customer's site: The textile industry is developing at a rapid pace. To deal with the future requirements of advanced textile production, you need to have the right partner. Klüber Lubrication not only has tribological know-how, but with our 30 locations worldwide we are the ideal 'partner next door'." 

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You have been working with the textile industry for more than 20 years. What makes you so enthusiastic about your work?

Forster: "The many facets it has! What makes the textile industry so fascinating for me is its variety of technologies, manufacturing processes and products, on every continent in the world. This also means that each machine has different requirements and needs a special lubricant optimised for them."

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