Archive | July, 2008

236

6:00 am
July 1, 2008
Print Friendly

The Fundamentals: How To Begin A Training Program

If one of your loved ones needed surgery, would you entrust his/her health and safety to a handy, but virtually untrained doctor? If you needed to make a trip by air, would you place your future in the hands of an individual who had good intentions, but no pilot’s license? The next time tax season rolls around, are you going to hire an accountant who has done taxes his whole life without really understanding the nuances of the tax code? The answer to these questions is, of course, a resounding no.

We would be foolish, indeed, to engage the services of unprepared professionals such as those described in the opening paragraph. Yet, that’s exactly what we, as maintenance managers, do when we send untrained craftspersons out into our processes to perform tasks for which they have been poorly prepared.

At this point in history, the average manufacturing facility routinely operates with technology more sophisticated than what first put men on the moon. In light of ever-increasing complexities on the plant floor, the days of the self-trained millwright are drawing to a close.

We all know the craftspersons I am referring to—they are the backbone of a maintenance organization. They are intelligent, quick-witted and good with their hands. They are hard-working, conscientious and accountable. And they are having a harder time each year keeping the plant running because the highly technological nature of today’s manufacturing machinery precludes their reliance on intuition, common sense and the ways in which a task always has been performed before.

Nowadays, millwrights and multicrafts must be trained if they—and your company—are to succeed. Wanting to, working longer and harder and just being lucky are no longer sufficient strategies.

Beginning a new training program for a maintenance department— or improving an existing one—is a large and unwieldy undertaking, especially if you attempt it all at once. It can be a thankless, expensive proposition that often is difficult to justify to upper management. The key to succeeding is to prioritize, to tackle what you can when the opportunity arises and to attempt no more at any one time than you can successfully accomplish. Remember the old joke that asks about the best way to eat an elephant; the answer is “one bite at a time.” That’s the methodology you must employ when initiating a training regimen.

As you consider the following suggestions and techniques, keep in mind that it is better to perform one or two of these methods well than it is to execute all of them poorly. A journey of 10,000 miles begins with the first step. The following list reflects steps in the right direction. Give some serious thought to them. 

0708_fund_training_img2Evaluations. In order to be able to decide where and how you want to go, you will need to determine where you are now. To do that, you must assess the skill level of your maintenance staff before you determine your training priorities.

Please note that this is a hands-on assessment. The idea is to determine what your craftspersons can actually do as opposed to what they think they know. This will take some time, since each individual will need to demonstrate his or her level of competence based on criteria that you have determined to be important to your plant. If employee “A” does not need to weld, then evaluating for welding skill is a waste of time. If employee “B” is not rated for electrical repairs, then there is no point in having him or her demonstrate the wiring of a motor.

Take care to assure all of your maintenance professionals that the evaluation process is for training purposes only. A loss of the workforce’s trust will doom any further efforts to failure. It is best to engage an independent assessor—such as a local technical college or an independent contractor—to avoid conflicts of interest, whether real or perceived. 

0708_fund_training_img2Mentoring. Nationwide, the maintenance workforce is aging, and one by one, the technicians, millwrights and journeymen who have kept industrial America running for the past four decades are signing up for their pensions and heading for their favorite fishing spots. The next time you have a maintenance meeting, take a look around the room and ask yourself how many of the faces you see will be there in 10 years. Then imagine how well your operations will run when the knowledge that those people possess retires with them.

Now is the time to put a stop to the brain drain. If your facility is like most, your maintenance personnel work in pairs for safety. One of the most important steps that you as a manager can take is to team the veterans with the rookies, so that the hard-won know-how that the senior millwrights possess can be passed on to the next generation.

Some very useful information on the mentoring process can be found at: www.managementhelp.org/guiding/ mentrng/mentrng.htm#anchor4294744861

0708_fund_training_img2Apprenticeships. In reality, an apprenticeship is a more formalized form of mentoring. For generations, it was the preferred method of training millwrights and craftspersons. The primary difference between the mentoring and apprenticing approaches is that in an apprenticeship program, promotions and pay raises are often linked to achievement of competencies.

Apprentice programs are an excellent training method, but it is important to have a third-party independent assessment when the time for a skills demonstration rolls around. Otherwise, a strain in the Master-Apprentice relationship can result, particularly if mastery has not been achieved on a training module.

More information on the establishment of an apprenticeship program can be found at: www.doleta.gov/ jobseekers/apprent.cfm

0708_fund_training_img2Technical College Affiliations. The average maintenance employee generally has some idle time during the course of the work week. One positive alternative to having another coat of paint applied to the handrails is to send the tradesperson to school in a formal setting.

Many technical colleges now have programs of study that are designed to train the new generation of maintenance professionals. The ideal programs are those that combine theoretical “book learning” with hands-on experience. In order for this type of educational experience to work, it must be mandatory—and the maintenance technician should be paid to attend and successfully complete the classes. Thus, you need to be sure that the courses you require are conducted during the employee’s normal work week.

If you have a large number of employees to train, many technical colleges will agree to provide on-site instruction. Contact the community relations officer at your local institution for more information on this type of training opportunity. 

0708_fund_training_img2Trainers. For years, maintenance organizations have taken their best millwrights and technicians and promoted them to supervisory, planning and scheduling positions. An alternative to this practice is to create the position of “Trainer.”

Similar in function to mentoring, this approach provides one mentor for the entire crew. It is an ideal strategy for smaller organizations whose maintenance professionals do not work in teams in that it still allows for the transfer of knowledge from those that have it to those that need it. 

0708_fund_training_img2Factory or Field Representatives. An inexpensive source of knowledge is available to your organization in the form of factory or vendor field representatives. Quite simply, the suppliers of your parts are more than happy to send someone to your organization to instruct your people on the proper installation of those parts. There is generally a commercial announcement or two during these programs, but the training quality is usually quite high.

It is best to schedule these supplier-led sessions when most or all of your employees can be at the presentation. Some examples of representatives who are happy to come out and instruct your people include bearing suppliers, cylinder manufacturers, belting and hose vendors and fastener providers. 

0708_fund_training_img2Hi-Tech Avenues. Simply sitting your maintenance personnel down in front of a video, CD or computer module does not make a training program. Still, the presentation of information in this manner can have its place in your overall educational agenda.

There are several excellent video courses of study available that cover general topics such as hydraulics, pneumatics, bearing installation, lubrication and the like. The key to this type of knowledge transfer is to always couple it with a session of hands-on training. In other words, after you show the video on how to make a hydraulic hose, take everyone out and have them make a hose to your specifications.

The various branches of the military train their personnel endlessly, but they also conduct maneuvers on a regular basis. This way, the theoretical knowledge that the service members receive can be reinforced by hands-on application of that knowledge. The same type of strategy offers value for your plant. 

0708_fund_training_img2Reference Libraries. Every maintenance organization should have a reference library dealing with—at a minimum—the trades and crafts involved in the upkeep and repair of the manufacturing process, as well as the manuals and specification books for the machinery in that process. 

0708_fund_training_img2Specialization. Regardless of how your maintenance organization is compartmentalized, you should have two types of employees if you wish to be successful.

First, all of your personnel need to be good generalists in their fields. Secondly, each person needs to have a specialty on top of their general base of knowledge. Translation: all of your millwrights need to be able to diagnose and repair pneumatic issues, but one of them needs to be a fully-trained, factory-certified pneumatic expert, someone who can step in when an unusual situation occurs that requires a deeper level of understanding.

The same is true for the many other specialties or applications in your process, from hydraulics to welding to pipefitting to PLCs. Most manufacturers of industrial components offer formal schooling to their customers, and the enrollment of selected candidates at these factorysponsored facilities is money well spent. 

Making it happen
There are two factors to keep in mind when you undertake the building of an effective training program.

The first is achieving employee buy-in. It is critical that you have the support of your hourly professionals if you wish to change your maintenance reality. They must realize the value of the educational enterprise if it is to be a successful venture.

As you consider the best ways to begin or enhance your training efforts, keep the intended recipients of this education in the loop. If possible, they should participate in the construction of the course of study. If you let them provide input at the development stage, they will have a vested interest in the success and value of the outcome.

The second factor is gaining the support of upper management if you want a more skilled workforce. Training is not a program. It is a process—one that doesn’t expire at the end of the quarter or the current fiscal year and doesn’t get suspended when economic times get hard.

Remember, the price of continued improvement of your process is commitment to training by all concerned parties, from the newly-hired maintenance trainee to the president of the company. Moreover, the ultimate goal of excellence in your process can only be attained if that price is paid year-in and year-out.

Ray Atkins, CPMM, CMRP, is a veteran maintenance professional with 14 years experience in the lumber industry. He is based in Rome, GA, where he spent the last five years as maintenance superintendent at Temple-Inland’s Rome Lumber facility. He can be reached at raymondlatkins@aol. com or through his Website, www.raymondlatkins.com

Continue Reading →

152

6:00 am
July 1, 2008
Print Friendly

The Fundamentals: Fundamental Solutions

New Line Of High-Performance Specialty Chemicals

0708_fund_sol_img1Klein Tools has introduced a new line of highperformance specialty chemicals including, among other things:

  • Multi-Purpose Penetrant Lubricant – For use on screws, tools, motors, hinges, bearings, gears, relays, starters and generators, it penetrates through rust and corrosion and quickly loosens frozen nuts and bolts to ensure free and easy movement. Its residual anti-corrosive film leaves treated surfaces protected, while moisture is displaced in wet electrical systems to create a waterproof film that inhibits corrosion and electrical discharge. The all-purpose, non-flammable, non-conductive, and non-chlorinated spray features a 39,000 volt dielectric strength, and is safe around most plastic and paint.
  • Dielectric Silicone Grease – This translucent white, grease-like silicone paste maintains flexibility of natural and synthetic rubbers, vinyls, plastics, rubber or plastic O-rings. Its moisture-proof seal suits aircraft, automotive and marine ignition systems and spark plug connections, waterproof electrical connections, electrical assemblies and terminals. The automatic dispensing can and nozzle allow for even and uniform application to eliminate waste, mess and lumps.
  • Clear RTV Silicone Adhesive – Available in a low-odor and a general-purpose formulation, this clear RTV silicone adhesive is packaged in an automatic dispensing can with nozzle. The adhesive’s gel-like, single component material cures to a rubbery solid when exposed to moisture in the air. Resistant to ultraviolet light, it will not sag, slump or run off, and adheres to metal, glass, most types of oily wood, vulcanized silicone rubber, silicone resins, natural and synthetic fibers, ceramic, paper and many painted or plastic surfaces.
  • Electrical Cable and Equipment Cleaner – Effective on circuit boards, controls, switches and relays, this nonflammable, non-conductive, non-carcinogenic cleaner evaporates quickly without leaving residue. For use in cleaning oxidation, dust and light oils from electrical equipment, it won’t corrode metals or degrade plastics.
  • Firestop Caulk – Its cured red silicone rubber composition provides excellent performance stability and a pressure- tight seal that prevents the spread of fire, smoke and toxic gases through service penetrations. A patented char composite contains graphite, which expands when exposed to temperatures in excess of 300 F (150 C). The cartridge fits manual or air-operated caulking guns and is suitable for AB/PVC, flexible foam insulated copper pipe, PEX process and supply tubing penetrations, metallic pipe and electrical cable penetrations.

Klein Tools
Lincolnshire, IL

 

0708_fund_sol_img2New Wrench Kit Helps Save Time And Knuckles

Lowell Corporation’s new 511X Wrench Kit gives workers greater freedom and leverage in tight spots while reducing the risk of injuries. Designed for rugged applications typically found in plant maintenance, repair, operation and production as well as construction and pipeline work, this new kit incorporates Lowell’s Model 51QR ratchet handle and five, hexagonal deep well sockets (7/8″, 15/16″, 1 1/16″, 1 1/8″ and 1 1/4″). All components are packaged in a heavy-duty molded plastic case.

Each socket is 3 1/2″ long, giving workers an extended reach so that the wrench handle is able to clear many common obstacles. This extra clearance not only reduces the risk of injury, but also gives workers a wider swing. For additional flexibility and utility, the wrench handle incorporates Lowell’s unique Bolt-Thru design. This feature allows bolts to pass entirely through the arm head so that nuts can be secured on any threaded length.

These tools are built for hard use in a variety of applications, including those associated with mechanical joints, restraints, couplings, sleeves, repair clamps, saddles and flange bolts, among others. While the sockets are held securely in the handle with a sure-locking dead bolt, their quick-release feature allows users to quickly change them out with just the flick of a thumb.

Like all of the company’s products, the machined steel sockets and cast iron handle in the 511X Kit are guaranteed against defects in material and workmanship for a period of one year from date of delivery.

Lowell Corporation
Worcester, MA

Continue Reading →

913

6:00 am
July 1, 2008
Print Friendly

The Fundamentals: Installation Errors Shorten Bearing Life

Installation and mounting errors are responsible for 27% of all bearing failures, second only to lubrication problems (see Fig. 1). Most installation errors can be avoided through proper training, correct procedures and selection of products with design features that are compatible with operating conditions of the application.

0708_fund_bearinglife_img2

The most common mounting and installation causes of bearing failure along with some recommended approaches for avoiding these problems are detailed here:

  • Insufficient Tightness—When installing a bearing, it must be correctly forced up its tapered adapter sleeve. Improperly tightened bearings and adapter assemblies may slip or turn on the shaft. Over-tightening can reduce a bearing’s internal clearance and cause it to run hot.

    Historically, in adapter-mounted bearings the point at which the installer reaches a sufficient amount of locknut tightness has been difficult, if not somewhat cumbersome, to achieve. An installer would either use feeler gauges to measure the amount of clearance reduction in the bearing when tightening the locknut, or tighten a locknut a fixed amount after it had been snugged tight with a spanner wrench to take out the clearance between the mounting components.

    Using feeler gauges to measure the clearance reduction in a bearing while mounting is time consuming and can be inaccurate if the gauges are not properly read. The problem with tightening the locknut a fixed amount after it has been snugged tight is that when snugging up the locknut the amount of snug tightness varies from one installation to the next, depending on the installer. If the feeler gauges are not properly read or the amount of locknut snug fit is not just right, the mounting can be left too loose or too tight.

    To overcome these problems, bearings that actually help an installer determine when they are properly tightened are available (see Sidebar 1).

  • Incorrect Shaft Diameters—Typically, commercially available shafting is used in most applications due to cost. These shafts usually have a fairly wide range of under-nominal size diameters.

    The proper shaft mounting option is crucial when selecting a bearing. Bearings that use spring and eccentric cam locking collars (see Fig 2 and Fig 3) are subject to excessive fret or possible fracture of the inner ring when the shaft is undersized by more than one to two thousandths of an inch depending on the size.

    Bearings that use tapered adapter sleeves usually can mount to commercial grade shafting without hindering the service life of the bearing. These bearings are provided with housings, and the housing seat diameters are properly sized before they leave the factory. Prior to bearing selection (and installation), the shaft should be inspected and measured with micrometers. This will ensure that the proper bearing mounting type is utilized to avoid service issues as a result of the mounting.

  • Defective Shaft—Shafts should be clean, round, straight and smooth before mounting. New shafts can be damaged during handling and should be checked for nicks, gouges and deep scratches. These areas should be made smooth with a fine file and/or emery paper. Areas where shaft material has been raised also will need to be made smooth. The shaft should be checked for straightness, something that typically can be done by using a straight edge or framing square.

    In the case of a worn shaft where there may be fret wear, the bearing seat should be sanded with emery paper and any ridges or burrs made smooth. The worn bearing seat must be measured for proper size. Use a micrometer to check the size of the shaft and verify that it is within specification for the bearing that is to be mounted.

  • Misalignment—Misalignment of the shaft with the bearing’s housing can be caused by an imprecise mounting frame, shaft and/or housing support deflections or housing-to-shaft squareness. This misalignment is ideally compensated for by dynamically aligning rolling element bearings.

    0708_fund_bearinglife_img3Installation should be as accurate as possible, even when dynamically aligning bearings are used. Misalignment beyond the bearings’ limits can cause damage to the internal components and possibly the seals.

    During installation it is usually most effective to measure the ends of the shaft from a common reference (typically the mounting frame) for a vertical alignment and between the housing feet for a horizontal alignment. There are more accurate methods to measure the alignment of the shaft to the bearings (using laser sights, for example). The most basic signs that a bearing is out of specified alignment are that it usually will vibrate excessively, run hot and/or make an objectionable noise.

  • Improper Bearing Support Surfaces—The surface of the machine’s frame where the bearing is to be attached must be flat and smooth. An out-of-flat or excessively rough mounting surface can cause stress concentrations to occur in the bearing’s housing. Over time the housing may become subject to structural fatigue failure, especially if the load through the bearing is directed away from the housing’s base.
  • Lack of Expansion Provisions—During the operation of equipment, the heat flow through the shaft will cause it to expand. The amount of expansion that is realized must be compensated for by an allowance of axial clearance. If the expansion of the shaft is not taken into account in the bearing selection, the internal clearance in the bearing may be reduced to zero and the bearing will fail prematurely. The internal axial clearance of the bearing may be enough if the shaft’s temperature increase is low. A general rule-of-thumb is that if the bearings are less than 36″ apart, the shaft and mounting frame are both steel, and there are no external heat sources or elevated levels of ambient surrounding temperature, then two fixed bearings can be used. Otherwise, a floating bearing should be used that can move axially relative to the position of the housing.
  • Abusive Handling—During bearing preparation and installation, it is extremely important to maintain cleanliness. Keep dirt, water and metal chips off all parts. Hammer blows, external heat sources (torches) or the improper use of force can damage the bearing’s precision parts. Always refer to the bearings service instructions on how to properly install or remove bearings. Bearings that operate over long periods of time can develop deposits of lubricant and hard residues that may affect bearing performance detrimentally. A periodic cleaning of the bearing surfaces assures that accumulation of such substances will not hinder performance or service life. Always lock out/tag out the electrical service in the off position to any rotating equipment before servicing its bearings. Handling the bearing’s internal components with bare hands can be harmful to the exposed metal surfaces. The acidic moisture on bare hands will corrode the bearing’s exposed metal surfaces. Bearings should never be spun without being internally lubricated. In some cases, bearing units are shipped to customers with preservative only where the customer intends to use a special lubricant. Metal surface preservatives work best when the metal components are wrapped in protective paper or vacuum sealed. Sudden relative motions and long-term storage in housed units where humidity is present can cause surface damage. In addition, if bearings are stored for long periods of time, it is a good idea to lubricate the bearing and rotate the bearing by hand to distribute the lubricant.

In conclusion
A little care during the installation and mounting process can go a long way toward extending bearing life. A small error can be magnified in downtime, replacement costs and possible damage to equipment or other products. Don’t let your operations fall victim to such errors.

Marlon Casey is manager of Advanced Technology & Product Design with the Rexnord Bearings Division in Indianapolis, IN.

 

 

Bearing Installation Simplified: Tighten ‘Em Just Right

One manufacturer has designed a bearing that addresses the problem of determining when a bearing is properly tightened. The Rexnord® ZAF6000 series SHURLOK® spherical roller bearings are solid-housed, shaft-ready units that are a drop-in to replace traditional SAF units. They are greased and the clearance is preset, so they can be taken out of the box and mounted immediately to the shaft. These new bearings incorporate a patented Spyglass® Optical Strain Sensor (OSS) that provides instant feedback when the locknut has been strained enough to achieve optimal shaft grip. This device tells the installer when the locknut is sufficiently tight, thus eliminating damage to the shaft and bearing caused by improper tightening during installation. As a full-field strain indicator, the new Spyglass OSS incorporates materials that respond to strain in the locknut by changing reflected light wavelengths. As ambient white light is reflected through the sensor, it appears clear when the locknut is in an unstrained state. The sensor will isolate the specific color band wavelengths within the white light, depending on the direction and magnitude of strain within a tightened locknut. The sensor is calibrated so that the window stays clear until there is enough strain on the locknut to provide sufficient mounting tightness. At that point, a specific color can be seen in the window showing that the minimum threshold of load has been reached. A positive locking system also has been incorporated into the mounting design of units in the ZAF6000 line to maintain mounting tightness during operation. The inner ring is keyed to the adapter sleeve and the adapter sleeve is locked to the locknut with radial set screws that provide a superior spring locking shaft grip. Along with a positive locking system, the tapered sleeve is flanged, making it easy to remove the bearings from the shaft without causing damage, saving both time and repair costs.

Continue Reading →

257

6:00 am
July 1, 2008
Print Friendly

The Fundamentals: How To Begin A Training Program

If one of your loved ones needed surgery, would you entrust his/her health and safety to a handy, but virtually untrained doctor? If you needed to make a trip by air, would you place your future in the hands of an individual who had good intentions, but no pilot’s license? The next time tax season rolls around, are you going to hire an accountant who has done taxes his whole life without really understanding the nuances of the tax code? The answer to these questions is, of course, a resounding no.

We would be foolish, indeed, to engage the services of unprepared professionals such as those described in the opening paragraph. Yet, that’s exactly what we, as maintenance managers, do when we send untrained craftspersons out into our processes to perform tasks for which they have been poorly prepared.

At this point in history, the average manufacturing facility routinely operates with technology more sophisticated than what first put men on the moon. In light of ever-increasing complexities on the plant floor, the days of the self-trained millwright are drawing to a close.

We all know the craftspersons I am referring to—they are the backbone of a maintenance organization. They are intelligent, quick-witted and good with their hands. They are hard-working, conscientious and accountable. And they are having a harder time each year keeping the plant running because the highly technological nature of today’s manufacturing machinery precludes their reliance on intuition, common sense and the ways in which a task always has been performed before.

Nowadays, millwrights and multicrafts must be trained if they—and your company—are to succeed. Wanting to, working longer and harder and just being lucky are no longer sufficient strategies.

Beginning a new training program for a maintenance department— or improving an existing one—is a large and unwieldy undertaking, especially if you attempt it all at once. It can be a thankless, expensive proposition that often is difficult to justify to upper management. The key to succeeding is to prioritize, to tackle what you can when the opportunity arises and to attempt no more at any one time than you can successfully accomplish. Remember the old joke that asks about the best way to eat an elephant; the answer is “one bite at a time.” That’s the methodology you must employ when initiating a training regimen.

As you consider the following suggestions and techniques, keep in mind that it is better to perform one or two of these methods well than it is to execute all of them poorly. A journey of 10,000 miles begins with the first step. The following list reflects steps in the right direction. Give some serious thought to them. 

0708_fund_training_img2Evaluations. In order to be able to decide where and how you want to go, you will need to determine where you are now. To do that, you must assess the skill level of your maintenance staff before you determine your training priorities.

Please note that this is a hands-on assessment. The idea is to determine what your craftspersons can actually do as opposed to what they think they know. This will take some time, since each individual will need to demonstrate his or her level of competence based on criteria that you have determined to be important to your plant. If employee “A” does not need to weld, then evaluating for welding skill is a waste of time. If employee “B” is not rated for electrical repairs, then there is no point in having him or her demonstrate the wiring of a motor.

Take care to assure all of your maintenance professionals that the evaluation process is for training purposes only. A loss of the workforce’s trust will doom any further efforts to failure. It is best to engage an independent assessor—such as a local technical college or an independent contractor—to avoid conflicts of interest, whether real or perceived. 

0708_fund_training_img2Mentoring. Nationwide, the maintenance workforce is aging, and one by one, the technicians, millwrights and journeymen who have kept industrial America running for the past four decades are signing up for their pensions and heading for their favorite fishing spots. The next time you have a maintenance meeting, take a look around the room and ask yourself how many of the faces you see will be there in 10 years. Then imagine how well your operations will run when the knowledge that those people possess retires with them.

Now is the time to put a stop to the brain drain. If your facility is like most, your maintenance personnel work in pairs for safety. One of the most important steps that you as a manager can take is to team the veterans with the rookies, so that the hard-won know-how that the senior millwrights possess can be passed on to the next generation.

Some very useful information on the mentoring process can be found at: www.managementhelp.org/guiding/ mentrng/mentrng.htm#anchor4294744861

0708_fund_training_img2Apprenticeships. In reality, an apprenticeship is a more formalized form of mentoring. For generations, it was the preferred method of training millwrights and craftspersons. The primary difference between the mentoring and apprenticing approaches is that in an apprenticeship program, promotions and pay raises are often linked to achievement of competencies.

Apprentice programs are an excellent training method, but it is important to have a third-party independent assessment when the time for a skills demonstration rolls around. Otherwise, a strain in the Master-Apprentice relationship can result, particularly if mastery has not been achieved on a training module.

More information on the establishment of an apprenticeship program can be found at: www.doleta.gov/ jobseekers/apprent.cfm

0708_fund_training_img2Technical College Affiliations. The average maintenance employee generally has some idle time during the course of the work week. One positive alternative to having another coat of paint applied to the handrails is to send the tradesperson to school in a formal setting.

Many technical colleges now have programs of study that are designed to train the new generation of maintenance professionals. The ideal programs are those that combine theoretical “book learning” with hands-on experience. In order for this type of educational experience to work, it must be mandatory—and the maintenance technician should be paid to attend and successfully complete the classes. Thus, you need to be sure that the courses you require are conducted during the employee’s normal work week.

If you have a large number of employees to train, many technical colleges will agree to provide on-site instruction. Contact the community relations officer at your local institution for more information on this type of training opportunity. 

0708_fund_training_img2Trainers. For years, maintenance organizations have taken their best millwrights and technicians and promoted them to supervisory, planning and scheduling positions. An alternative to this practice is to create the position of “Trainer.”

Similar in function to mentoring, this approach provides one mentor for the entire crew. It is an ideal strategy for smaller organizations whose maintenance professionals do not work in teams in that it still allows for the transfer of knowledge from those that have it to those that need it. 

0708_fund_training_img2Factory or Field Representatives. An inexpensive source of knowledge is available to your organization in the form of factory or vendor field representatives. Quite simply, the suppliers of your parts are more than happy to send someone to your organization to instruct your people on the proper installation of those parts. There is generally a commercial announcement or two during these programs, but the training quality is usually quite high.

It is best to schedule these supplier-led sessions when most or all of your employees can be at the presentation. Some examples of representatives who are happy to come out and instruct your people include bearing suppliers, cylinder manufacturers, belting and hose vendors and fastener providers. 

0708_fund_training_img2Hi-Tech Avenues. Simply sitting your maintenance personnel down in front of a video, CD or computer module does not make a training program. Still, the presentation of information in this manner can have its place in your overall educational agenda.

There are several excellent video courses of study available that cover general topics such as hydraulics, pneumatics, bearing installation, lubrication and the like. The key to this type of knowledge transfer is to always couple it with a session of hands-on training. In other words, after you show the video on how to make a hydraulic hose, take everyone out and have them make a hose to your specifications.

The various branches of the military train their personnel endlessly, but they also conduct maneuvers on a regular basis. This way, the theoretical knowledge that the service members receive can be reinforced by hands-on application of that knowledge. The same type of strategy offers value for your plant. 

0708_fund_training_img2Reference Libraries. Every maintenance organization should have a reference library dealing with—at a minimum—the trades and crafts involved in the upkeep and repair of the manufacturing process, as well as the manuals and specification books for the machinery in that process. 

0708_fund_training_img2Specialization. Regardless of how your maintenance organization is compartmentalized, you should have two types of employees if you wish to be successful.

First, all of your personnel need to be good generalists in their fields. Secondly, each person needs to have a specialty on top of their general base of knowledge. Translation: all of your millwrights need to be able to diagnose and repair pneumatic issues, but one of them needs to be a fully-trained, factory-certified pneumatic expert, someone who can step in when an unusual situation occurs that requires a deeper level of understanding.

The same is true for the many other specialties or applications in your process, from hydraulics to welding to pipefitting to PLCs. Most manufacturers of industrial components offer formal schooling to their customers, and the enrollment of selected candidates at these factorysponsored facilities is money well spent. 

Making it happen
There are two factors to keep in mind when you undertake the building of an effective training program.

The first is achieving employee buy-in. It is critical that you have the support of your hourly professionals if you wish to change your maintenance reality. They must realize the value of the educational enterprise if it is to be a successful venture.

As you consider the best ways to begin or enhance your training efforts, keep the intended recipients of this education in the loop. If possible, they should participate in the construction of the course of study. If you let them provide input at the development stage, they will have a vested interest in the success and value of the outcome.

The second factor is gaining the support of upper management if you want a more skilled workforce. Training is not a program. It is a process—one that doesn’t expire at the end of the quarter or the current fiscal year and doesn’t get suspended when economic times get hard.

Remember, the price of continued improvement of your process is commitment to training by all concerned parties, from the newly-hired maintenance trainee to the president of the company. Moreover, the ultimate goal of excellence in your process can only be attained if that price is paid year-in and year-out.

Ray Atkins, CPMM, CMRP, is a veteran maintenance professional with 14 years experience in the lumber industry. He is based in Rome, GA, where he spent the last five years as maintenance superintendent at Temple-Inland’s Rome Lumber facility. He can be reached at raymondlatkins@aol. com or through his Website, www.raymondlatkins.com

Continue Reading →

140

6:00 am
July 1, 2008
Print Friendly

Problem Solvers

0708_problemsolvers_img1Viscous Tapping Fluid

Rustlick RTD is a premium tapping fluid for the most demanding reaming, tapping and drilling operations, including jobs with high strength steel, titanium and stainless steel. This thick brown fluid has been formulated with extreme pressure additives that fortify water-based coolants instead of contaminating them like traditional tapping fluids. It significantly reduces friction in operations to give superior cutting performance and finishes as well as prolonging tool life. Rustlick RTD is water soluble and available in a 12-oz. squeeze bottle, as well as 1-, 5- and 50-gal. containers.

ITW ROCOL North America 
Glenview, IL

Lubricant Identification Tags

0708_problemsolvers_img2

Trico’s Spectrum tags and labels help users avoid lubricant cross-contamination and misapplication by identifying lubricants from storage to point of use. Available in 10 colors, the tags are easily marked with up to four lines of information using a felt tip marker, crayon or Spectrum customized label and then sealed beneath a laminate sheet to maintain readability. Optional barcoding also can be added. The tags are made of 1/16″ UV inhibited plastic and designed to withstand harsh environments.

Trico Corporation 
Pewaukee, WI

0708_problemsolvers_img3Bolting Made Easy

Wright Tool’s line of torque multipliers includes three styles: universal tube, plate reaction and foot reaction. These tools range in output capacity from 750 to 8000 foot-pounds. Their compact, rugged, onepiece design is easy to handle and, according to the company, operators rarely need to apply more than 200 foot-pounds of input torque to achieve their output goal. A torque conversion chart is attached to each of these multipliers to show the input torque required for any given torque output.

Wright Tool Company 
Barberton, OH

0708_problemsolvers_img4
Industrial Strength Degreaser

CRC’s T-Force™ Degreaser combines the power of a high-performance, industrial- strength degreaser with lower VOCs. Offering the benefits of Trichloroethylene, Perchloroethylene and n-Propyl Bromide without the associated risks, it quickly dissolves grease, oil and sludge, thus allowing mechanical equipment to operate more efficiently. Available in 20-oz. aerosol cans, the product has a high dielectric strength of 33,300 volts, is non-conductive, noncorrosive, non-staining and has no flash or fire point.

CRC Industries
Warminster, PA

0708_problemsolvers_img5
Drum Cabinets & Accessories

Lyon Workspace Products offers a variety of drum storage cabinets, including configurations that safely house a 55-gallon drum horizontally or vertically, or two 55-gallon drums with space for attached pumps or funnels. Conforming to NFPA Fire Code No. 30 and OSHA standards, each model incorporates a three-point latching system with key lock for secure closure. Lyon also offers drum handling trucks, mobile drum cradles, drum ramps and drum rollers.

Lyon Workspace Products 
Aurora, IL

0708_problemsolvers_img6
Bearing Protection

Electro Static offers two AEGIS SGR Split-Ring Bearing Protection Kits™ (one for NEMA motors and one for IEC motors). They are designed to provide clearance for shaft shoulders, slingers and other end-bell protrusions while keeping bearings safe from electrical damage caused by circulating or shaft currents. Split-Ring Kits are ordered by motor frame size. Standard-size kits fit NEMA-frame motors with shaft diameters from 0.625″ to 3.375″ and IEC-frame motors with shaft diameters from 19mm to 95mm.

Electro Static Technology 
Mechanic Falls, ME

0708_problemsolvers_img7Universally Interchangeable Worm Gearboxes

AutomationDirect has expanded its mechanical power transmission product line to include worm g e a r boxe s in four frame sizes and six gear ratios from 5:1 to 60:1. Constructed of cast iron onepiece housings, the IronHorse™ worm gearboxes feature a C-flange input and carbon steel shaft with either right-hand or dual shaft output and double-lipped embedded oil seals to prevent leakage. Designed to change drive direction by 90 degrees, these products are mountable in any direction, except motor pointing up. The universally interchangeable compact design ensures easy OEM replacement.

AutomationDirect 
Cumming, GA

Continue Reading →

151

6:00 am
July 1, 2008
Print Friendly

LMT News

News of people and events important to the Lubrication Management community

TRICO CORPORATION ACQUIRES PREDICT USA

Trico has purchased Predict USA, of Cleveland, OH, a leading provider of predictive condition monitoring technologies including ferrography, lubricant analysis and vibration analysis. The acquisition will allow Trico to bring oil analysis and monitoring services in house and now offer a one-stop shop for all predictive lubrication management services to its clients. According to Trico’s president Nick Kroll, his company will strengthen the Predict’s ferrography services “Ferrography and the accompanying instrumentation is one of the niche Predict’s strengths,” he notes. “We’re looking to improve this part of the program, along with a host of other services.”

Predict will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Trico, but continue to operate under its current brand name.

SKF SET TO ACQUIRE PEER BEARING COMPANY

SKF has signed an agreement with the owners of U.S.-based PEER Bearing Company (PEER) to acquire PEER and its manufacturing operations in China and Thailand. Headquartered in Waukegan, IL, PEER primarily manufactures deep groove ball bearings and tapered roller bearings, most of which are sold to North American customers. According to SKF, the acquisition is expected to strengthen the corporation’s presence in certain North American market segments that it doesn’t currently serve, including Mechanical Power Transmission. PEER will continue to operate as a standalone business, acting independently on the market under its existing PEER brand.

The proposed transaction is subject to certain conditions to closing and requires approvals by relevant authorities.

0708_mtnews_ing1

Bob Asdal, Hydraulic Institute, and Jane Alexander, Editor

Bob Asdal, executive director of the Hydraulic Institute (HI), visits with LUBRICATION MANAGEMENT & TECHNOLOGY editor Jane Alexander, in St. Paul, MN, at the recent Industrial Energy Effi ciency Forum sponsored by Xcel Energy and Pump Systems Matter ™ (PSM). Launched in 2005 by 33 member companies of the Hydraulic Institute, PSM is a national educational initiative that works to help pump users gain competitive advantage through strategic, broad-based energy-management solutions.

The St. Paul forum on May 6 offered multiple presentation tracks focusing on the importance of looking at effi ciency from a systems perspective for Xcel Energy customers across a variety of industries. Incorporating countless real-world examples, the keynote presentations and nine workshops covered a range of issues related to business and reliability strategies, compressed air systems, motors and variable speed drives, life-cycle costing, pump system optimization, mechanical seals optimization, water and wastewater systems and more.

Co-sponsors of the day-long, information-packed event included some of the biggest names in the fi eld of energy-effi cient solutions for industry, including ITT Corporation, Baldor-Dodge-Reliance, Flowserve Corporation, Emerson Motors/US Motors, Emerson Control Techniques-Americas, John Crane International, Sundyne Corporation, AURORA Pump, Armstrong International, Inc. and Sullair Corporation, among others.

For more information on Pump Systems Matter and upcoming educational opportunities for your organization’s energy-effi ciency team, visit www.pumpsystemsmatter.org

ASSOCIATION NEWS: WATER ASSOCIATIONS & EPA RELEASE TOOLS FOR EFFECTIVE UTILITY MANAGEMENT PRACTICES

Six associations representing the U.S. water and wastewater sector, in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have released a series of tools designed to help water and wastewater utilities advance effective management practices to achieve long-term sustainability. The tools are based on the “10 Attributes of Effectively Managed Utilities” and fi ve “Keys to Management Success” fi rst identifi ed in a report released by the group in May 2007. Since the release of that report, the “Findings and Recommendations for a Water Utility Sector Management Strategy,” the Effective Utility Management Collaborating Associations—the American Public Works Association (APWA), American Water Works Association (AWWA), Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), National Association of Water Companies (NAWC), the Water Environment Federation (WEF)—and EPA have been working together to develop tools aimed at helping utilities assess their current operations and adopt best management strategies for improvement.

“These tools were developed by utility mangers for utility managers,” said WEF executive director Bill Bertera. “The Water Environment Federation is very gratifi ed to have been part of this important effort.” EPA assistant administrator for Water, Ben Grumbles commented that he considers the collaboration among the associations “to be one of the Agency’s most important accomplishments under our Sustainable Water Infrastructure Initiative” and “appreciates the water associations and utility advisors for their continuing leadership.”

The tools now available include the Effective Utility Management Primer for Water and Wastewater Utilities that is designed to help water and wastewater utility managers make practical, systematic changes to achieve excellence in utility performance. It was produced by water and wastewater utility leaders who also developed a series of suggested Utility Performance Measures focused on the Attributes to help utilities establish a performance baseline and begin to measure their progress. Finally, the group is releasing an online Resource Toolbox that contains links to key resources and tools. The new primer can be downloaded at no charge from each of the collaborating associations’ Websites or at www.watereum.org LMT

Continue Reading →

264

6:00 am
July 1, 2008
Print Friendly

On-Site Infrared Analysis For Lubrication Condition Monitoring Anywhere!

Lubricating fluids degrade over time depending on various external and internal influences, including type and age of equipment, ambient temperature and humidity and degree of use and load on equipment, etc. It is well established that monitoring the health of lubricating fluids is an important and necessary part of high-value machinery maintenance. The traditional approach for determining the condition of these vital lubricants is to take a sample, send it off for analysis at a commercial testing lab, then track trends in changes in key lube parameters over time. When these analyses indicate a problem, corrective actions such as refreshing or changing the lubricant are taken.

0708_lubeanalysis_img1As companies move from preventive maintenance to proactive maintenance, there is increasing interest in onsite lubricant testing because results can be obtained much faster—and they may be more trustworthy. It allows lubrication specialists and maintenance personnel to take decisive action right away. This latter point is important since some of the degradation processes in lubricants occur nonlinearly in time and more quickly than one might expect, which can lead to increased equipment wear or failure. Of course, the ability to use on-site testing equipment is predicated on the ability of the testing equipment manufacturers to make their products straightforward to use and provide valuable information.

A number of analysis methods have made the jump from use by experts off site to routine use by lubrication specialists on site. One technique not making that jump—until now—has been infrared spectroscopy. Infrared has been used for years to evaluate lubricating fluids, but virtually always in off-site commercial labs. Now, though, infrared analysis also is available for use in on-site facilities.

Monitoring critical lubricant parameters
There are several key parameters for which infrared is capable of providing highly accurate information in lubricants including:

  • The level of water present
  • The amount of oxidation and nitration by-products
  • The amount of anti-wear, anti-oxidation and extreme pressure additives remaining

All of these parameters are critical—and some can be measured with other methods. No other technology, however, can provide information on all parameters simultaneously, in less than two minutes. The use of infrared analysis for each parameter will be explored here.

Infrared analysis for water
The amount of water that is present in lubricants is critical to the performance and longevity of the lubricated equipment. Lubricant properties affected by the presence of water include viscosity (measure of the oil’s resistance to flow), specific gravity (density of the oil relative to that of water), and the surface tension (a measure of the stickiness between surface molecules of a liquid). All of these properties are important for the ability of the oil to coat, lubricate and protect the critical mechanical clearances. In addition, the presence of water can accelerate additive depletion and contribute to chemical degradation mechanisms such as oxidation, nitration and varnish formation.

0708_lubeanalysis_img2The ability to measure water on-site provides a substantial benefit to ensure accuracy of results. Off-site analysis for trace water may be compromised due to variability of water concentration introduced by storage, transportation or shipment of a sample. Furthermore, some lubricants contain de-emulsifying additives that cause microscopic water droplets to separate concentrate in layers at the bottom and sides of sampling containers. This de-emulsifying action takes time to occur and can cause large variations in analytical measurements. Furthermore, lubricant samples can lose water due to evaporation and loss to the sample container walls. To obtain an accurate picture of the amount of water present, measurement should be made soon after the sample is pulled from the machine.

Analytical determination of water in lubricants typically is carried out using the well-established Karl Fischer (KF) coulometric titration. KF has some practical drawbacks for on-site analysis including complicated sample preparation, the use of hazardous and expensive chemical reagents and length of time required to perform the analysis. With these issues in mind, KF analysis is still considered the “gold standard” method for analyzing water in oil because it provides accurate and precise answers. Under ideal conditions, Karl Fischer has an accuracy of 3-5% for prediction of water in lubricants.

While infrared spectroscopy provides an easy means to measure water, only recently has this technology been able to provide the accuracy and range desired by the lubrication industry. New developments in the ability to use FTIR spectroscopy to carry out customized methods have now made the analysis of low levels of water in lubrication possible, which overcomes earlier technical difficulties. These new methods, coupled with a dedicated on-site infrared analyzer, measure the concentration of water in mineral-based oils with an accuracy and range equivalent to the Karl Fischer method. FTIR allows this measurement to be carried out on a single drop of lubricant, requiring no hazardous or expensive reagents, and it takes significantly less time to complete than KF.

Methods to directly measure water in mineral oils via infrared spectroscopy have been available for over 30 years. For example, the ASTM 2412E method was originally designed for use with motor oil. Routinely containing 1000 to 2000 ppm of water, motor oil has additives that solvate the water into the oil. The methods developed to measure water in these oils by infrared analysis were targeted at large concentration and had correspondingly large errors associated with them. Other lubricants (such as turbine oil) solvate significantly less water—typically it’s 50 to 100 ppm. In these lubricants, higher levels of water form small droplets that eventually settle to the bottom of the turbine oil. If the ASTM 21412 method for water is used for turbine oil, measurement variability of up to 40% on replicate samples is observed.

0708_lubeanalysis_img3The primary reason the conventional method for measuring water in oil by FTIR produces a high error in turbine oils is water separation—water separates into small droplets in turbine oil. These small droplets scatter instead of absorb infrared light, and only the light that is absorbed contributes to the measurement of water. Over time, it became clear that a means of stabilizing the water in the oil would be needed to reduce variability.

Water stabilization method for infrared analysis
A new method (patent pending) has been developed for the measurement of water in turbine oil. This method, reflected by the data in Table I, uses a surfactant to distribute and stabilize the water in the oil, creating a stable emulsion with uniform water droplet size. Addition of approximately 3% of a premixed non-ionic polyethylene oxide based surfactant blend and gentle mixing effectively stabilizes the water in the lubricant.

Determining degree of oxidation and antioxidant depletion
Oxidation is the most significant cause of lubrication breakdown. It occurs when the hydrocarbon components of the lube combine with oxygen to form a wide range of harmful by-products including ketones, aldehydes and carboxylic acids. Once these compounds form, they in turn combine with other species in the lube and form even more unwanted degradative products. Virtually all of the chemical species that result from oxidative processes can be detected and measured by infrared analysis (Fig. 1). Early detection of these species allows for remediation action to slow down the oxidation process.

The phenolic and aminic antioxidants in lubricants function as preservatives that prevent the oil from oxidizing. Oxidation causes lubricants to quickly lose viscosity and the wetting characteristics that protect metal contact surfaces and prevent wear. Oxidation arises from a combination of sources—including elevated temperatures, extreme pressures, high shear conditions and the presence of water and metal particles—and is accelerated by electrostatic sparking, particularly in certain gas turbine systems. Although antioxidants inhibit the formation of these decomposition products, once the antioxidants are consumed, oxidation accelerates exponentially and at a certain critical point corrective action has negligible benefit. On-site analysis offers a significant benefit in this regard by ensuring that both the antioxidant levels and the amount of oxidation present are known in time for corrective action to be taken before the critical point is reached.

Infrared compared to other oxidation-measuring technology
Infrared analyzers require a drop of neat oil—with no sample preparation. Voltammetric systems require careful pipetting techniques and an extraction step involving an electrolyte solution. The extraction step used in voltammetric systems assumes that all of the antioxidants are extracted from the oil into the electrolyte solution. However, extraction efficiencies are variable for additives in oils. Ranging from 50-90%, these efficiencies may result in 10-50% of additives being left in the oil after extraction, and thus not being measured. Moreover, voltammetric electrodes require maintenance, such as conditioning in buffer solutions. Metal particles, water or organic salts (i.e. ionized carboxyls such as copper carboxylates) will not interfere with the antioxidant measurements using infrared spectroscopy.

0708_lubeanalysis_img4

Conclusion
Real-time, on-site FTIR analysis offers a number of potential— and important—benefits to lubrication specialists and maintenance personnel. They include the ability to:

  • Analyze lubricants more frequently, especially when previous analyses indicate that machinery needs more careful monitoring… When the performance of lubricating fluid begins to degrade, or if earlier analyses indicate the presence of a mechanical problem, it is important to monitor the lubricant more frequently because the process of deleterious change can accelerate rapidly.
  • Help reduce machinery wear caused by rapid oil breakdown and to detect problems that could cause catastrophic failures… For example, an anti-freeze leak causes excessive levels of water and glycol to be present in engine oil; these levels can be readily detected by FTIR. More frequent monitoring of engine oil by real-time FTIR can quickly catch these contaminants before they have a chance to cause catastrophic damage to an engine.
  • Ascertain the condition of lubricants in remotely deployed equipment, for which the delay in receiving information from off-site labs may be unacceptable… On-site FTIR analysis minimizes the need to send lubrication samples to off-site labs for condition-based monitoring. It is especially important that equipment operating in these remote locations be carefully monitored since ambient conditions may be particularly challenging.
  • Act as the supporting analytical technology in programs designed to bring lubricants back to spec via readditization… FTIR is a powerful method for analysis of anti-wear and anti-oxidation additives. More companies are looking to extend the use of lubricants by refreshing critical additives to bring the lubricant back to spec. Real-time, on-site FTIR can be a powerful tool for determining how much additive should be recharged and for monitoring the overall refreshed oil composition.
  • Enable maintenance personnel to make better decisions on when to send oil samples for full analysis… Real-time FTIR is an excellent screening technology to detect problems with both the lubricating fluid and the lubricated equipment. More frequent screening with FTIR enables personnel to make informed decisions on when to send samples for full elemental analysis, in order to try to pinpoint specific internal machine problems that may indicate excessive mechanical wear. LMT

Continue Reading →

191

6:00 am
July 1, 2008
Print Friendly

Part II: How Clean Is The New Oil In Your Equipment?

0708_contamination_img1

How much do you know about the blending process and its effect on oil cleanliness? Is that where the trouble starts?

There are many different lubricant blenders in the U.S.—some very large and some small. In this series, the general practices of large, major oil company blenders and some of the medium-size specialty lubricant suppliers are examined.

The blending process
The typical flow through a blend plant is characterized by Fig. 1. The process begins with receiving of the base stocks that are shipped to large facilities by pipeline, barge or rail. Smaller facilities receive base stocks by rail or truck.

Base stocks usually are not filtered before being introduced in the blend tank, but there are some exceptions. One blender company filters all base stocks shipped by barge, rail and truck with a 25 micron filter. Additives come in many package styles, including drums, totes and bulk. They typically are not filtered before being introduced in the blending tank. Hydraulic and turbine oils contain less than 1% additives, so cleanliness is not as important as it is for base stocks

Base stock and additives are introduced in the blend tank and mixed together to make the finished product. Cleanliness targets are set by some facilities for turbine, hydraulic and other oils specified by large customers. The first filtration (which typically is a coarse one, perhaps through a bag filter) is from the blend tank to the finished product tank. The final filtration, which is to achieve a specific cleanliness target, is from the finished product tank into a bulk truck for customer or distributor delivery. Finer filtration also is performed from the finished product tank to the packaging operation.

There is a range of lubrication blenders—from those that provide very little to no filtration and no measurement of lubricant cleanliness, to those that have tight cleanliness specifications to meet specific customer needs. Hydraulic and turbine applications usually require cleaner fluids.

0708_contamination_img2The following are examples of companies that have targeted cleanliness levels on oils shipped from their facilities.

  • A large major supplier of finished lubricants has established a reasonable target of 19/17/14 for its hydraulic and turbine oils. It normally will achieve a cleanliness level of 2 or more ISO codes below the target. This supplier filters with a sock filter from the blend tank to finished product tank, then uses finer filtration from the finished product tank to a truck or packaging line.
  • Another major supplier of finished lubricants has a program for its premium turbine oils. For an additional charge, the turbine oil is guaranteed to have a minimum ISO cleanliness of 18/16/13. (This meets General Electric’s cleanliness specification of 16/13.) This supplier also will guarantee hydraulic oils to an ISO cleanliness of 17/15/11—something that is achieved by having initial filtration with a 13 micron filter going into the product storage tank. This is followed by a 6 micron filtration from the product storage tank to a dedicated tank truck for turbine oils or the drum packaging operation to achieve guaranteed cleanliness targets. In addition, all drums for both the turbine and hydraulic fluids with guaranteed cleanliness are polyethylene plastic to maintain the cleanliness level. In most cases this supplier will be lower than the established cleanliness level.
  • A mid-size supplier of specialty lubricants has a guaranteed ISO cleanliness code of 14/13/11 for its ISO 32, 46 and 68 synthetic oils. This is for only plastic-packaged products (in drums, pails and totes). The main filtering step incorporates a product-holding tank with fine offline line recirculation filtration. This company also does bag filtration from the base stock tank to the blending tank. The fluid is recirculated until the required cleanliness level is attained. The plant has stainless steel dedicated piping that helps meet these cleanliness levels.
  • Another mid-size supplier of specialty lubricants has a program to supply hydraulic fluid for injection molding machines requiring clean fluid. This company supplies the fluid in plastic containers at a guaranteed ISO Cleanliness Code of 17/15/13.

Clean fluid shipped by the lubrication blender will require less or no filtration when it reaches the end user. Remember, though, there is a cost for fluid cleanliness. Some companies charge $.05 to $.20/gallon, which is well worth the cost to get a guaranteed cleanliness. Many blenders don’t measure fluid cleanliness as it leaves the plant and many do just a very coarse filtration—if any. Fluid cleanliness can vary by one or two ISO codes, depending on how it is measured—whether it is with a portable or online counter or sent to a laboratory for evaluation. (Part III of this series will address online versus laboratory particle counting.)

Lubricant evaluation
Do you really know how clean the oil is that you are buying? Is it clean enough for your equipment, especially hydraulics and turbines? With the exception of a few companies, no one publishes data that specifically points to a cleanliness rating for their products. The few that publish this information do so only for specific products. In order to shed more light on the subject through this series of articles, 17 oils were purchased and underwent evaluation for cleanliness and water content along with other oil analysis.

MRT Laboratories of Houston, TX was selected to do all the test work for several reasons, including:

  • The lab’s proximity to sample collection, which minimized shipping;
  • The authors’ experience with the quality of MRT’s work;
  • The fact that this laboratory is ISO 17025-2005 accredited.

The following samples from four of the major lubricant suppliers and one small blender were purchased from Houston-based distributors in five-gallon plastic pails:

  • Four ISO 32 turbine oils
  • Four ISO 46 hydraulic oils and one ISO 32
  • Four ISO 100 R&O circulating oil
  • Four ISO EP 220 gear oil

The following tests were performed on the samples:

  • Particle counts as expressed as ISO 4406 Cleanliness Code with the use of an
    optical blockage counter
  • Karl Fisher Water Coulemetrically
  • Viscosity @ 40 C
  • Acid Number
  • Emission Spectroscopy for 24 metals.

Test protocol
The five-gallon plastic pails were delivered sealed to the laboratory. The pails were agitated, and individual samples were taken from the middle of each. A superclean bottle was used and flushed with four ounces of fluid before being filled. The samples were immediately run in the laboratory

Results

Turbine oils…

0708_contamination_img3

It is interesting to note that the only turbine oil packaged by a blender came from Supplier D; this sample was the cleanest of the group. The others had been packaged by the distributor/marketer. All of these oils were clean and very dry. (Product moisture has not been discussed but it is a very important property of a lubricant and should be monitored.)

Hydraulic oils…

0708_contamination_img4

Supplier E’s product was an off-brand hydraulic oil purchased from an automotive parts store and 30% lower in cost than the premium hydraulic oils purchased through a distributor. There was no viscosity designation on the pail. It was called R&O hydraulic oil. This oil upon evaluation appeared to be used flush oil. It had 24 ppm of iron along with 41 ppm of aluminum. It also contained high levels of silicon, sodium and potassium. This indicated possible coolant contamination. In light of its high particle count and water content, this fluid should not be used in a hydraulic system. How would you know the low quality of such oil unless you ran oil analysis tests? It was observed that the oil was very dark and emitted a pungent odor. Low-viscosity hydraulic oils are not dark in color, nor do they have an odor.

There are many very good lubricants sold by compounder blenders. The evaluation of this low-quality oil should not reflect on the rest of the group. A lesson to be learned from this is that one should buy lubricant from a supplier with whom you are familiar—especially if it is used in a critical application like hydraulics.

Supplier D’s product was the cleanest of the group—and the only one packaged at a lubricant blend plant. The others were packaged by distributors. This is a common practice. Many distributors package their own oils in drums and pails—especially hydraulic and turbine oils. The only other oil that was marginal for a hydraulic system without further filtration was that from Supplier B—it showed a high amount of water and a high particle count, but all other tests revealed it was high-quality oil. The moisture and particles were probably introduced during the packaging process at the distributor.

R&O circulating oils…

0708_contamination_img5

All of these ISO R&O circulating oils (which are used in compressors) were packaged at the blend plant. These oils were clean and dry. Supplier D again had the cleanest oils, but all the others also were high-quality and suitable for usage.

EP gear oils…

0708_contamination_img6

All of the lubricants in the EP gear oil table are ISO 220, which is the most common viscosity grade for most gear reducers. Supplier B’s product was packaged by the distributor. The others were packaged at blend plants. Gear oils are not as clean as turbine or hydraulic oils, but these lubricants in many cases will be clean enough for unfiltered lower speed gearboxes, especially if this oil is added to existing oil in the reservoir, which is probably dirtier. In splash lubrication, the most common lubrication method for gearboxes, bearings also are lubricated by the same oil. Bearings require cleaner oil than gear teeth. This should be taken into consideration when determining the cleanliness targets for gearboxes and in some cases may require filtration to meet those targets.

Conclusion: encouraging results
The first key link in the cleanliness chain was examined by looking at the contaminant levels of various oil types from their respective blend plants. The results were encouraging. The major lubricant suppliers’ oils were clean and dry for most applications. Some suppliers offer further filtration to meet stringent customer requirements, but at an additional cost. This is particularly true for turbine and hydraulic oils where greater cleanliness is required. It also was encouraging to note that of the 17 oils evaluated for water, only four were higher than 100 ppm—and two of those were packaged by a distributor.

As a group, the gear oils evaluated here were not as clean as the other lubricant types. That was expected. They were, however, found to be clean enough for most applications.

One final word of caution: Be familiar with the lubricants you purchase! Use of that low-quality hydraulic oil previously cited could have caused equipment damage. Overall, though, rest assured that there are many reputable lubricant suppliers—both large and small—that furnish quality products. LMT


Contributing editor Ray Thibault is based in Cypress (Houston), TX. An STLE-Certified Lubrication Specialist and Oil Monitoring Analyst, he conducts extensive training in a number of industries. Telephone: (281) 257-1526; e-mail: rlthibault@msn.com

Mark Graham is technical services manager for O’Rourke Petroleum in Houston, TX. Telephone: (713) 672-4500; e-mail: mgraham@orpp.com

Continue Reading →

Navigation