Put the wrong fuel in a vehicle and the impact is immediate. Put the wrong oil in a vehicle and the impact could be just as severe. Using the wrong or poor quality lubricants leads to accelerated wear in bearings and gears, risking increased maintenance costs and even in extreme cases, malfunction. With ever increasing pressure on fleet managers to minimise costs and maximise value, oil choice is of heightened significance.
Verification of Lubricant Specifications (VLS) exists to uphold standard in the industry
In 2013 the lubricants industry faced a problem. Some lubricant products were being sold on the marketplace with claims that were simply unrealistic. Closer inspection found that occasionally sub-standard formulations were being passed off as the latest specifications, or even failing to perform effectively at low temperatures.
Although this occurred in the minority of cases and the vast majority of lubricants available in the marketplace met the exacting standards of market and OEM specifications, it still gave cause for concern.
Out of this concern, reputable lubricant blenders and manufacturers came together to launch the Verification of Lubricant Specifications (VLS). VLS is an industry-led service that independently validates complaints regarding the technical specifications and performance claims of products. Since its inception in 2013, we have arbitrated over 50 different lubricant complaints covering issues such as cold weather properties through to compliance with industry standards and market regulations.
Verification of Lubricant Specifications is an independent organisation providing a credible and trusted means to verify lubricant specifications.
How does this affect fleet managers?
Although VLS’ work is aimed at resolving product complaints that are often made between different lubricant companies, our overall objective is to protect all those working in the supply chain. Our role is to ensure that lubricants being sold are fit for purpose. Fleet managers can be assured that lubricants are what they say they are and can do what is being claimed. Everything from engine to transmission and gear oil is covered by the scheme.
How does VLS remain impartial when adjudicating on cases?
When VLS receives a case the product details are anonymised and sent to an independent Technical Panel for review. The panel is composed of technical experts from across the industry who review the specification of a product against relevant industry and Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) standards. They review a technical specification and the performance characteristics of the lubricant, assessing the product solely on its technical merits.
Following validation and any physical external testing required, the panel makes its recommendation to the VLS Board comprising of industry leaders whose membership is distinct from that of the technical panel. The Board considers the panel’s recommendation and makes a final decision. Even at this stage the company, brand and product are still confidential.
Once the Board decides on a case the Named Party responsible for the product will be contacted with details of the complaint, any technical evidence for the basis of the decision, and requests that the company sets out its steps for bringing the product into compliance. The company has twenty-eight days to respond. It is likely that VLS will enter into a period of dialogue with the Named Party as it is our intention to encourage greater compliance in the marketplace and not to penalise non-compliance.
The steps taken by the Named Party will be reviewed by the Technical Panel and agreed. Only at the end of the process, final and full details of the case published on the VLS website as a matter of public record.
Is membership of VLS open to anyone?
Membership is open to any lubricant manufacturer, marketer, agent, distributor, service provider, commercial or industrial end-user or Industry trade association. We welcome new members to join VLS and be part of our lubricant industry initiative to bring transparency to the lubricant market place and protect and educate the end user.
Details of all current members are published on our website so you can check to see if the oils currently being used on your fleet are produced or distributed by a registered member. Members are also proud to display their membership logo on their websites and in their marketing communications.