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GUEST ARTICLE: Patrick Lämmle

Ecofriendly lubricants have conquered track maintenance ​

High-performance, green lubricants are key to reducing our carbon footprint. Plasser & Theurer paved the way for this approach 22 years ago using organic lubricants manufactured by PANOLIN. ​


​Switching to sustainable alternatives can only succeed when they are cost-efficient.​

Patrick Lämmle
Chairman of the Board at PANOLIN International Inc. ​

Lubricants keep things running. At the same time, approximately 30 % of all energy generated is lost to friction. This clearly demonstrates how lubricants play an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And with an annual global consumption of more than 36 million tonnes, production and disposal are also of importance. Sustainability, ecofriendliness, and performance are in demand. The same can also be said of cost-efficiency.

Until now, environmentally friendly lubricants have been used especially in those areas in which mineral oil leaks would harm the environment. However, the environment is no longer the only argument in favour of switching to lubricants with a minimal environmental impact. This has been true for a long time. It is a fact that economic considerations are a priority for many operating companies: experience with these lubricants in track maintenance machines has shown this.

22 years of working together smoothly

In 1998, Plasser & Theurer began a test phase using a biodegradable hydraulic oil by PANOLIN. Testing lasted several years. The results were so positive that it expanded to include other components and several machines. Its aim was to find out whether switching to organic lubricants would negatively affect reliability and availability. The opposite turned out to be true.

PANOLIN HLP SYNTH, the hydraulic oil used in the first test machine, was in such good condition after 14 years and nearly 37,000 operating hours that it didn’t need to be changed. Overall, the intervals between oil changes became much longer and performance increased. As a result, machine downtimes decreased and the total costs of lubricant fell by up to 95 %.

​What are ECLs?

Environmentally considerate lubricants are synthetic, ester-based lubricants. Esters are chemical compounds that are found frequently in nature. Examples include the fragrances and flavours in fruits and fats. Therefore, ester-based lubricants can be easily broken down by natural means. It is necessary to distinguish between saturated and unsaturated esters. PANOLIN uses powerful saturated esters. In addition to their rapid biodegradability, they are characterised by the following properties: an ability to withstand high temperatures, high oxidation resistance, no deposits, excellent wear and corrosion protection, and they retain their stability over time. You can find PANOLIN’s ECLs in practically every area of application and setting, both on land and at sea.​

ECLs are gaining a foothold in track maintenance

More and more operating companies are switching to PANOLIN’s environmentally considerate lubricants (ECLs), motivated by these findings and the desire to have a smaller carbon footprint. For example, in 2016 Swietelsky-Babcock Rail decided to switch to ECLs for all its on-track machines in Great Britain. Meanwhile, it has been operating a 100 % green fleet with a great deal of success.

PANOLIN’s environmentally friendly lubricants demonstrate that sustainability can translate into increased cost-efficiency. That is the only way switching to green alternatives works. For this reason, we will continue to offer our customers and partners products that win them over economically, ecologically, and technologically. Instead of asking yourself, “What does an ecofriendly solution cost?”, you should ask yourself, “What does forgoing an ecofriendly solution cost?”


PANOLIN developed this concept with the idea of combining environmental protection, economy, and technology. It gives operating companies the chance to equip their machines with environmentally friendly, high-performance lubricants. The products offered include engine oils, gear oils, wire rope and track lubricants, hydraulic oils, and much more. Part of this concept also includes regular oil analyses to prevent unnecessary oil changes, thereby limiting costs. For years, Plasser & Theurer has been offering to equip its machines with GREENMACHINE products from the beginning.​

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