Archive | November/December


6:00 am
November 1, 2008
Print Friendly

From Our Perspective


Ken Bannister, Contributing Editor

For many of us, the unfolding economic news of the past few months has forced us to view our world with very different eyes. It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before.

The United States and the rest of the world now seem to be taking solace in a silver lining represented by the “changing of the guard” in Washington. Although the new administration clearly has a formidable task in front of it, people everywhere are looking forward to what can be achieved with a degree of anticipation and hope that has not been seen in quite a while.

You can be sure the new administration recognizes two things: 1) the burden it has to make the right decisions; and 2) the catalyst for change opportunity it has. The situation is not very different from what we often experience in an industrial setting. 


Whenever asked to help a corporation, company or department to implement a continuous improvement program of any kind, one of the first questions I ask the group that will manage or be affected by the upcoming change is, “Have you ever come across a policy, procedure or business process that didn’t make sense, yet is currently followed or enforced at your workplace?” Rarely is the answer “no.” In fact, these seemingly “unintelligent on purpose” policies, procedures and processes (PPPs) force us to look at the past and try to understand the decision process that forced their initial and continued adoption, and determine if the adoption cause, and/or the resulting PPPs, are still in any way relevant. 

Attitudes, politics and necessity make for strange bedfellows. They also dictate approaches that seemingly make no sense during later “administrations.” Understanding and communicating this will serve as a first stage catalyst for change in that it will rationalize the acts of previous management administrations, and allow current personnel to “let go” of previous negative feelings through involvement in both the determination and improvement process.

Using the “changing of the guard” (see page 3, March/April 2008 issue of Lubrication Management & Technology) as a catalyst to enact change is arguably the most powerful and effective change management event one can use to produce a positive paradigm shift with minimum resistance. This type of catalyst is available any time a new owner, or division, department or process manager, is appointed. Not only can it be used to make positive change, it should be used—every time. Management, however, does not have to be changed to gain this type of effective catalyst.

We also can choose to appoint specialized positions that show recognition of the need for and importance of the change management program. For example, where no dedicated lubrication personnel previously existed, the appointment of one or two lubrication specialists or a lubrication manager to implement a lubrication management program makes a positive statement that change is occurring. Moreover, it indicates that management now views a lubrication program as a worthy endeavor. While this simple “reframing” exercise requires virtually no capital outlay, it does call for an actual (and meaningful) change management plan to back it up.

Other successful change catalysts can include the introduction of new technology or management software tools. Most people believe the purchase of a new tool will generally simplify and improve upon processes using the replaced tools. In general, this is true. More importantly, though, most people will consent—without prejudice— to a change in their behavior through merely changing or updating tools.

To assure the success of a new program or initiative, adopt a change catalyst that allows you to validate the PPPs that offer value—and flush away those that don’t. Doing so, you offer people a positive outlook and a ray of hope for the company’s future—and their own. Good Luck!

Continue Reading →


6:00 am
November 1, 2008
Print Friendly

LMT News

News of people and events important to the Lubrication Management community

POLARIS Laboratories, one of the three largest fluid analysis laboratories in the United States, has expanded its business operations into Canada with the opening of a new testing laboratory in Edmonton, Alberta. The 4000-square foot facility is the company’s fourth to open since its headquarters began operations in Indianapolis in 1999. The company opened laboratories in Houston in 2003 and in Salt Lake City in 2006.

DuPont has acquired Coastal Training Technologies Corporation, a leading global producer and marketer of cutting-edge training programs, headquartered in Virginia Beach, VA. The transaction is expected to fuel significant growth for DuPont Safety Resources, a consulting business within the DuPont Safety & Protection segment. Terms of the agreement, which includes transfer of all customer agreements, patents, copyrights, brands, equipment and personnel, were not disclosed. The acquisition will allow DuPont, an established global leader in industrial safety services programs, to provide a broader mix of delivery systems to a growing global audience. Coastal Training Technologies, with offices in the United States, Mexico, Europe, Brazil, India and the Philippines, will gain access to DuPont’s broad customer network for its extensive library of training products.

The Coastal deal is part of DuPont’s strategy to expand its presence in emerging markets and safety industries. It complements the corporation’s current safety training and consulting business, creating a single-source training leader with the greatest variety of safety programs for companies, governments and organizations seeking training and consultation. 

Founded in 1984, Coastal Training Technologies Corporation has developed and markets an extensive offering of award-winning DVDs, e-learning products, print materials and instructor-led courses available in 29 languages. About a third of the company’s 600 employees reside in the United States.

ITT Corporation has announced a strategic partnership with Mercy Corps as part of ITT Watermark, the industrial giant’s corporate philanthropy program. Mercy Corps, a global relief and development agency, collaborates with the United Nations to implement water and sanitation solutions during worldwide disasters. The new partnership includes a three-year, $1 million commitment to help provide safe water during emergencies created by natural catastrophes such as floods, droughts and earthquakes. Under the arrangement, ITT, a leader in the transport and treatment of water, will support Mercy Corps’ relief and recovery efforts, which include the provision of dewatering and water purification equipment. In addition, ITT will aid Mercy Corps’ on-the-ground staff with rebuilding and recovery of water and sanitation infrastructure long after disaster strikes. As part of the its Watermark initiative, ITT has established an Emergency Response Committee responsible for the coordinated deployment of the corporation’s resources directly to disaster sites during water-related emergencies. The committee will work with Mercy Corps during the balance of 2008 to develop a plan for reducing risks and implementing turnkey emergency response protocol. 

Cooper Industries is helping to celebrate its 175th anniversary with the grand opening of the Cooper Technology Center in Houston, TX. This first-of-its-kind, 35,000-square-foot facility features an auditorium, conference room and multiple training rooms designed to help facilitate industry-specific education and demonstrate the entire line of industrial solutions the company offers. Products from all of the eight Cooper divisions are represented in the Technology Center via dedicated displays and products used in the building design itself. A replica of an industrial operation helps complete the learning experience with more than 250 of Cooper’s industrial offerings installed as they would be in an actual refinery. Coupled with hands-on classrooms and curriculum reflecting the corporation’s vast expertise and global product offerings, the model refinery has been designed to serve as a highly practical learning environment for end-users, distributors and engineering and procurement professionals. 

According to Cooper CEO Kirk Hachigian, the corporation’s vision for the Technology Center came from industry’s thirst to keep current with the latest technology and products that facilitate increased productivity, enhanced energy efficiency and maximum safety for both workers and facilities. “Now,” he says, “professionals who design and build industrial facilities can see our entire industrial offering under one roof, from the newest lighting technologies and electrical fuses to transformers and energy automation solutions to mass notification systems.” In the past, Hachigian notes, a person would have to visit different Cooper facilities located across the country, including those in Syracuse, NY; Milwaukee, WI; Atlanta, GA; and Raleigh, NC; among others, to see the breadth of the company’s offering.

Flowserve reports that its Cookeville, TN plant now has achieved Nuclear Quality Assurance Level 1 (NQA-1) qualification, which allows Flowserve’s valves to be used in the cleanup or remediation of contaminated facilities. The contaminants are collected and pumped to facilities where the vitrification process concentrates and fuses the radioactive materials into impermeable glassy solids, which can then be stored safely for thousands of years as the isotopes decay and ultimately become harmless.

Rick Carter has joined Applied Technology Publications (ATP) as executive editor. Bringing more than 25 years of magazine experience to his new position, he is expected to play a key role in shaping the organization’s electronic editorial products, as well as its growing seminar and Webinar offerings. He also will support the overall editorial missions of Maintenance Technology and Lubrication Management & Technology magazines. Over the course of his career, Carter has served as editor-in-chief of both Advanced Design and Manufacturing and Industrial Maintenance and Plant Operation magazines, and as editorial director of Reed Business Information’s Manufacturing and Processing publishing group.

The Fluid Sealing Association (FSA) and European Sealing Association (ESA) have published a 116-page technical manual focused on the handling, installation and use of compression packing. Topics include how compression packing works; advances, types and manufacturing methods; packing materials and lubricants and proper packing selection. Valve, pump and specialty equipment packing, including application recommendations, also are discussed. A technical reference section addresses stuffing box design, valve stem friction and other factors that impact packing performance. Additionally, current standards, regulations and environmental legislation are reviewed. For details, visit or e-mail



Continue Reading →


6:00 am
November 1, 2008
Print Friendly

Problem Solvers

Expanded Worm Gear Line

Baldor has expanded its Dodge ULTRA KLEEN right-angle, worm gear reducer line and is now offering 24- to 48-hour shipment on most sizes. Offered with quill and 3-piece coupled input and either solid or hollow output, these products are now available in fi ve sizes: 17, 21, 23, 26 and 30, with center distances from 1.75” to 3.00”. They feature a totally enclosed ventless sealing system that contains a factory filled H1 food grade synthetic lubricant, eliminating the need for routine oil changes. All ULTRA KLEEN reducers are manufactured with premium 316 stainless steel housings.

Baldor Electric Company Fort Smith, AR
For more info, enter 30 at

Seals To Reduce Dust & Vapors


Woodex Bearing Company now offers MECO seals that keep dust and vapors from escaping process vessels into the atmosphere and can incorporate safety features to reduce ignition risk. MECO designers examine each application individually and custom engineer seals to specifi cally meet the requirements of the processor. The company’s seal designs also now comply with strict European explosive atmosphere regulations (ATEX).

Woodex Bearing Company Georgetown, ME
For more info, enter 31 at

Oh So New Vertical Turbine Pumps 


ITT Goulds new O-Head™ design enhances the reliability and performance of vertical turbine pumps. The patent pending O-Head allows smoother running with lower vibration levels exceeding all major international rotating equipment specifications. This new discharge head also offers improved efficiency and mechanical condition due to its mitered radius waterway. According to the manufacturer, the unique structural static and dynamic Finite Element Analysis (FEA) design for stress and deflection (using parametric modeling) ensures the reliability of every Goulds vertical turbine pump. The O-head is available on vertical products sizes 16” diameter discharge and above.

ITT Goulds Seneca Falls, NY 
For more info, enter 32 at 

MRO eCatalog 


The IHS MRO eCatalog is a dynamic, Web-based electronic catalog of more than four million MRO parts and materials from more than 1300 manufacturers. Its features include keyword, manufacturer and part number search; parametric search with attribute refinement; ability to compare items side-by-side; link to catalog pages and view manufacturer information and list pricing. The eCatalog is available as an annual subscription on IHS’ Engineering Resource Center, or integrated with the IHS Intermat Struxure™ catalog authoring/management software.

IHS Inc. Englewood, CO 
For more info, enter 33 at

Continue Reading →


6:00 am
November 1, 2008
Print Friendly

Notes From the Field: Plant Reliability Assessment Visits


Reliability doesn’t just happen in facilities, including those in the hydrocarbon processing industry. Here’s an expert’s view of what’s going on in some of today’s refinery operations, and how the situation can be improved.

My “post-retirement” experiences in numerous hydrocarbon processing industry (HPI) facilities from 1986 to around 2002—and my exposure to thousands of HPI employees since 1965—has allowed me to make a number of observations and form opinions that are still relevant today. The following brief summary is intended to highlight my observations and permit me to offer a few recommendations. All are aimed at rapidly improving equipment reliability at some refineries I recently have visited. I call these “Reliability Assessment Visits.”

Observation: Interest in training varies.
To an extent, all refineries exhibit uneven levels of interest in learning about the operator-machine interface. Some operators take the position that they are not in charge of equipment maintenance or upgrading. They fail to understand that they are the first line of defense, and that all improvements in the refinery must, ultimately, be accepted by them so as to do the operation any good. As an example, there is feedback from operators who claim to have tried to advocate such measures as periodic switchover of pumps but were not allowed to do so. What’s wrong with reliability management at those locations?

We frequently come away from sites with the impression that the reasons for switchovers are not known to operations’ supervision. What they don’t know they can’t teach others. Switching pumps is beneficial in preventing the degradation of standby bearings due to vibration transmitted from the running pump, and rust formation due to constant “breathing” of bearing housings (hence, ingestion of moist and dirt-laden air). The notion that using each pump would make both wear out at exactly the same time is about as correct as the belief that twins have the same life expectancy and likely will die on the same day.

Observation: Upgrading of oil mist systems is possible.
By now, most readers know that I’m a proponent of plant-wide oil mist lubrication and preservation systems—and why. That said, it is interesting to note that some relatively new installations continue to follow a wet sump (purge mist) approach that is of relatively little benefit. Some use cooling where others have found cooling unnecessary for the past 30 years. With expert help, these plants have an opportunity to bring their systems up to industry standards.

Correct slope, top take-offs from the header pipe, spray mist fittings and application fittings located per API-610 8th and later editions are readily achievable and would be cost-effective, as would the use of balanced constant level lubricators in bearing housings with traditional sump lubrication. Old-style non-balanced constant level lubricators will allow pressure differences to exist between the housing interior and atmosphere. This often causes the oil levels inside bearing housings to be unexpectedly low.

In many assessment visits, we were unable to find anyone who was aware of the vendor’s stipulated uni-directionality of constant level lubricators. Whenever these are installed on the wrong side of the pump bearing housing, they increase the risk of causing deprivation of oil level.

Many refineries are not organized to understand the seriousness of this issue, nor do they make efforts to remedy the situation. There often seems to be no champion who insists on “picking this ripe, low-hanging fruit” without delay. Although many of these facts were brought to light years ago, word has still not reached all refineries. Consequently, we have seen locations where no efforts are being made to address and remedy the situation.

Observation: Deleting cooling water would reduce bearing failures. 
In the late 1960s, smart refineries dismantled cooling water systems on all conventionally-lubricated equipment that incorporated rolling element (“antifriction”) bearings. It was clearly established that simply using lubricants with higher ISO viscosity grades allowed for the slight temperature increase to be easily accommodated. Although the oil viscosity was now being lowered by the increased temperature, it still remained well above the minimum required value.

For the past 30 years, hundreds of refineries have operated their rolling element bearing-equipped pumps without cooling water. Those refineries and chemical plants always noted an unexpected side benefit: Increased bearing life. Cooling water in a jacket surrounding the bearing outer ring affected shrinkage of the outer rings; the reduced bearing internal clearance had promoted early failure of “cooled” bearings. Similarly, using cooling water coils to lower the liquid oil temperature at the bottom of a bearing housing while allowing moist air near its saturation point to occupy the rest of the housing will invite moisture condensation.

There is a real opportunity here to capture credits by selectively deleting cooling water after ascertaining that the correct bearing is used and that this bearing is correctly installed. By allowing 0.25% water in the oil, a pump user typically reduces pump bearing life by a factor of 6!

Observation: There has been excessive mechanical seal consumption. 
In mid-2001, a mid-size refinery determined that, in an 18-month period, the cost of mechanical seals for a total of just 10 services exceeded $1,100,000. It was easy to establish that the facility processed the same fluids, operated the same pump types and used the same seal models and flush plans as other refineries. Therefore, it should have been evident—and was indeed easy to ascertain—that issues centering around installation weaknesses (pipe stress, baseplate grouting, etc.) and pump warm-up procedures, such as lack of through-flow in stuffing box while pump was not running or forgetting to use a flush-oil at shutdown and startup, merited closer investigation. This re-enforced our impression that: 

• The cooperation between process engineers and mechanical/reliability workforces often does not measure up to expectations.

• Root cause failure analysis is not being practiced to the extent necessary and is not a cooperative effort between operations, maintenance and technical work functions.

• At a minimum, a facility’s seal alliance partner needs to provide detailed, written guidelines, perhaps based on observations elsewhere, as to proper warm-up or flush oil startup methods.

At one refinery being assessed, an operating supervisor stated that the moment hot fluids are introduced into a pump, he calls for a quick startup in the expectation that the pumpage will not become more viscous as it contacts cooler parts of the pump. Another supervisor noted that he trusted his intuition and a scribbled reminder. He volunteered that his idea as to correctness of his reminder “write-up” was not shared by others. These scenarios, again, indicate that some refineries lack relevant, uniformly applied equipment operating instructions. Such instructions, procedures or checklists exist and should be provided at all refinery locations.

Overall Impression: Lots of ripe, low-hanging fruit 
On the good side, during these “Plant Reliability Assessment Visits,” we always found that every employee has strengths to build on. Everyone has the ability to contribute to a knowledge base—and such a base can always be broadened. In essence, we should assume that all employees are salvageable.

While it is a statistical impossibility for every refinery to be a top performer, there is rarely (in the United States) one single issue that is glaringly wrong and that, if rectified, would save millions. Instead, there are literally hundreds of seemingly minor items that must be rectified at most refineries. Fortunately, this “ripe, low-hanging fruit” is easily picked. It will rarely cost much money to do so and mapping out the path forward should be easy.

Where the money is spent today 
Here, then, are a few details and deviations that cost money, if not addressed. These, and many others, were discussed in assessing the reasons for decreased equipment reliability at several mid-sized refineries. They merit being addressed by teams composed of operations, maintenance and technical personnel. The teams must “buy-in” and a champion must intervene if old habits will not die:

1. Operators often are told to run on outboard seal, after the main seal has failed. That’s costly and dangerous. Seals are rarely designed for this duty. 

2. Beware of newly installed seals throwing sparks upon startup. At one facility, operators were told to always pour water on such a seal; I assume this was the result of a dimensional error made at one time. The solution? Issue dimensional checklists and insist on shop measurements, then discontinue this strange practice.

3. Don’t run steam-driven equipment with inoperative trip throttle (T/T) valve(s)—nor without periodically exercising these (T/T) valves. Sticky T/T valves are a huge threat to safety. Realize that these valves are traditionally examined (dismantled) during turnarounds.So,after the next planned shutdown, budget an extra day to leave turbines uncoupled and let your operators exercise the valves to convince them that accidentally tripping a turbine is simply not possible.

4. Don’t allow excessive quench steam pressure on some hot service pumps. There should be an orifice and the pressure downstream of that orifice should not exceed 5 psi.

5. Don’t use cooling water on oil-mist lubricated pumps— its serves no purpose. Measure the housing temperature. Note that 180 F is acceptable, providing an ISO Grade 68 or 100 turbine oil is used in the system.

6. We established that oil mist was introduced into wet sump bearing housings in the expectation the mist would protect and lubricate the bearings even if liquid oil levels were lost. That is simply not the case. Huge amounts of mist (actually, over-lubrication) would be needed to accomplish this.

7. In wet sump (purge mist) lubricated bearing housings, high oil mist pressure causes oil level to go down in the bearing housing and rising in non-balanced constant level lubricators. The refinery was then asked to convert to pressure-balanced constant level lubricators.

8. Mechanical seal cavities often were not vented upon startup. The result: Trapped air promoted seal leakage and failures. Drilling a hole connecting the stuffing box interior to the casing internals solved the problem. This is a standard shop modification done at some refineries.

9. In efforts to economize by buying refused to turn properly as a result. and stocking fewer types of oil, the refinery made it a (strange) practice

10. Pump suction strainers had been to use excessively thick lubricants. left in place. Many were rather thin-Personnel didn’t realize that this was metal startup strainers that were actually a very costly approach since prone to corrode. They were to be the oil rings (slinger rings) often removed at the earliest opportunity.

Multi-phase remedial steps should be considered 
As a matter of routine, I often have proposed that a site engage the services of a competent retiree with an extensive reliability background. This individual would track the restoration and upgrading of older oil mist systems, verifying and correcting baseplate and grouting integrity, stress-free piping, correct alignment practices, re-negotiation of certain seal partnerships, constant level lubricator upgrades, issuance and “buy-in” of installation, startup, cleaning, repair instructions, routine upgrade procedures to be implemented every time pumps or motors enter the shop, checklists and the like. 

Deriving this material from scratch is unnecessary and costly as it already exists and could easily be adapted to a site’s needs. I frequently have estimated that it would require no more than a few weeks to assemble all of the written guidelines (about 600 pages) that a refinery would need. Upon transfer of the material to a refinery, an experienced professional would thoroughly explain its relevance to cross-functional teams and the refinery would manage its full adoption and “buy-in” by operations, maintenance and technical/reliability workforce members. 

Some time later, a competent follow-up study could be done to rigorously benchmark and audit the results of the preceding efforts.

Contributing Editor Heinz Bloch is the author of 17 comprehensive textbooks and over 340 other publications on machinery reliability and lubrication. He can be contacted

Continue Reading →


6:00 am
November 1, 2008
Print Friendly

Part IV…How Clean Is The New Oil In Your Equipment?

The Third Link in the Chain
In the previous articles in this series (which began in the May/June 2008 issue of Lubrication Management & Technology), the focus was on the first two links in the cleanliness chain: the lubricant blender and the distributor. In this installment, the authors look at the final link—the end user.

No study of oil cleanliness really would be complete without a look at what happens once the oil reaches the end user. Is that where the real trouble starts? To try to find out, we chose to examine two large plants, an oil refinery and a petrochemical complex. Both facilities have large populations of rotating equipment, including significant numbers of centrifugal pumps, electric motors and compressors. A large number of oil samples were collected from both plants and evaluated separately for viscosity, ISO Cleanliness and water by MRT Laboratories. The findings from each plant—or end user company—are as follows:

Oil refinery data 
The large Gulf Coast refinery selected for this study has instituted a program requiring the delivery of clean and dry oil. Its requirement of 15/13/11 along with < 50 ppm of water for delivery of clean oil has resulted in improved bearing life. Table I illustrates the oil cleanliness findings from this refinery. 


The results from the referenced refinery indicate that while there is a wide variation in oil cleanliness at the site— even for the same equipment types—overall, the cleanliness is not out of range. Several concerns, however, surfaced here. 


1. The cleanliness rating of the oil in the ISO 32 bulk tank (21/18/15) was high for a centrifugal compressor, indicating that the fluid was too dirty for that service.

2. The oil from one reciprocating compressor was too dirty for evaluation.

3. The containers used to add oil to the pumps also raised concerns. The recommended sealed plastic containers utilized for this task contained very dirty oil (23/22/13). No matter how clean oil is when it is delivered, it can become contaminated very quickly if not handled properly. One bright note, though, was the dryness of the oil. No sample exceeded 50 ppm.

Although the results of this refinery evaluation were obtained from a small number of samples, they still provide useful data on the cleanliness of the oil in this facility. All sampling was observed by one of the authors. Collection was consistent with best practices to minimize the introduction of outside contaminants.

Petrochemical complex data 
The second end user facility evaluated for this study was a large petrochemical complex that has no cleanliness requirements for incoming oil. Table II reflects cleanliness data collected at this operation. Our major focus in this plant was on the evaluation of lubricants in storage tanks and small containers used to add oil to pumps and small equipment. 

Although samples from the tankage were found to be reasonably clean, those from containers used to add oil to pumps and small equipment were found to be very dirty. This strongly suggests that improvements in keeping oil clean in containers should enhance pump reliability. 

Yes, the oil in the large equipment at the two end-user facilities evaluated for this study was reasonably clean. However, given the fact that the oil in some tankage and containers at these plants was not as clean as it should have been, these areas seem to be where real improvement efforts should be focused. 

While cleanliness levels in samples from some of the large equipment at the two facilities could be attributed to filtration, end users should be mindful of the fact that it is vitally important to start out with as clean an oil as possible. Unfortunately, as illustrated by this study, clean oil delivered by a supplier can become seriously contaminated as a result of poor storage and handling practices. 

One of the most important findings from this study is that everyone in the oil cleanliness chain—including you, the end user—has to take ownership in ensuring that clean oil reaches your equipment.

In addition to acknowledging the staff and management of MRT Laboratories for their work in the analysis of the oil in this study, the authors wish to thank the following individuals for assisting in the data collection for this article: John Gobert, Mark Kavanaugh, Jimmy Thomson, Bill Tummins and Russell Aucoin. 

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:

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


The concluding article in the series will summarize all the ? ndings from the blender, distributor and end user. Best practices to achieve oil cleanliness targets and enhanced equipment reliability, including utilization of mobile particle counters, will be discussed in detail.

Continue Reading →


6:00 am
November 1, 2008
Print Friendly

Process Improvements: Three Keys to Maximized Machine Shop Productivity

In today’s increasingly competitive environment, maximizing productivity is a MUST, especially for small- and medium-sized machine shops. Typically, these businesses cannot match the overall production capabilities—in terms of volume—of their larger rivals. Furthermore, larger competitors often have more equipment, more people and more resources than small- or medium-sized businesses.

So how can small- and medium-sized businesses gain a competitive edge? 

Implement a proactive maintenance strategy 
One of the most valuable things any company can do is to incorporate a proactive maintenance approach as opposed to staying in a reactive mode. A proactive maintenance strategy is what many of the most successful companies in the industrial sector utilize—be they large or small.

1208-process-improvements-1A proactive stance considers equipment maintenance not as a cost, but as a strategic investment. Guided by this maintenance philosophy, companies recognize that when they invest in protecting their assets (equipment) they can yield significant payback in terms of exceptional equipment durability and efficiency, as well as maximized performance and productivity.

For smaller companies specializing in machine shop applications, this maintenance mindset is essential. After all, for many machine shops, a few pieces of specialized equipment often represent a significant portion of the company’s entire operations. Without that equipment running efficiently, an organization’s productivity and bottom line can be severely impacted. 

The most essential and cost-effective component of a successful proactive maintenance strategy is the implementation of a comprehensive oil analysis program. 

Oil analysis is a series of tests that help determine the condition of internal hardware and in-service lubricants. With this information, you can extend the useful lives of both, identify early warning signs such as contamination and wear and minimize unscheduled maintenance. For maintenance professionals and business owners that want to implement an effective oil analysis program—that also can save time and money—there is ExxonMobil’s proprietary online Signum Oil Analysis Program. 

For example, this program offers customers immediate access and direct control of their lubricant sampling program. With a few keystrokes, users can manage all their oil analysis needs, including: 

• Update equipment registrations and select analysis options based on their equipment or maintenance needs;

• Track the status of samples at the lab;

• Direct actions based on analysis results, request sample kits; and,

• Share critical results with colleagues in a secure, password protected environment.

Streamline inventory management 
Another great way for small- and medium-sized machine shop businesses to maximize productivity within their operations is to have an efficient inventory management strategy.

When addressing inventory management, there are several factors you should consider. Perhaps the most important is recognizing that inventory costs will include the initial purchase price of materials plus costs associated with handling and storage. Other items to consider when developing an inventory management strategy include estimating the replenishment quantity and determining appropriate times to submit reorders. 

A crucial component in determining proper reorder quantity and timing involves accurately gauging how much available space can be dedicated to storage. Typically, most machine shop owners/managers don’t want to devote valuable space to the storing of excess inventory. Thus, a best practice is for them to work closely with their suppliers to develop an effective cycle fulfillment process, through which deliveries are received just as previous order supplies are about to be drained. Another best practice is to periodically examine the products and supplies they use— especially lubricants. 

One common way for machine shop owners to efficiently utilize inventory space is to review the list of lubricants the operation is using. Lubricants take up a significant amount of storage area. Fortunately, the number of products used frequently can be consolidated to a lower number of high-performance lubricants.

Capture the benefits of high-performance lubricants 
1208-process-improvements-2Whether your company specializes in producing simple bolts, complex gear sets or high-precision valves, keeping your machinery running efficiently is the real key to your profitability. After all, in a machine tool, the active physical interrelationship taking place in the equipment requires that your lubricants work together effectively—i.e., your slideway oil must work seamlessly with your choice of cutting fluids. 

In a machine tool, mixing oil with the coolant is unavoidable. Some way oils may not separate readily from the coolants and result in excessive “tramp oil.” Excessive tramp oil will compromise the effectiveness of the metalworking fluid by shortening its effective life and altering cutting performance. Excessive tramp oil also can lead to bacterial growth in water-soluble coolants, resulting in foul odor, short coolant life and potential employee health and safety concerns. 

To avoid these issues and help ensure that your equipment runs smoothly over the long haul, choose a high-performance lubricant specifically designed to deliver excellent frictional properties and coolant compatibility across a range of way and slide applications. Lubricants from the Mobil Vactra Oil Numbered Series are an example of this type of product. 

Ideal for multiple applications, including both as slideway lubricants for steel on steel and steel on plastic ways and as fluids for moderate service machine tool hydraulic systems, these products offer a number of performance benefits. 
When choosing a high-performance oil, you should look for: 

• Exceptional coolant separability… which enhances the performance and life of water-based metal working fluids

• Excellent frictional properties… which enable increased machine accuracy and reduce chatter and stick-slip

• Rust and corrosion protection… which helps reduce the deterioration of sliding services and associated maintenance.

For today’s machine shop operators, maximizing productivity is not an option —especially for those with small- and medium-sized businesses. Leveraging the strategies discussed in this article is an effective way to get a real productivity boost around your shop.

Glen Sharkowicz is Global Industrial Products Offer Advisor with Mobil Industrial Lubricants. 

For more info, enter 04 at www

Continue Reading →