- Buyer's Guide
Name: Jeffrey Evans
Job Title: Lubrication Technician
Company: Trinity River Lumber Co.
Location: Weaverville, California
Length of Service: 9 years
When Jeffrey Evans was awarded the lubrication technician position at the Trinity River Lumber Co., he had little knowledge of what he would be doing. He received no formal training, nor was there anyone to show him the ropes - just a grease gun and a plethora of components thirsty for lubrication. The position had been a revolving door. Before Evans took over, the company had gone through five lube techs in two years. While learning on the fly by trial-and-error methods, he was determined not to be the next one out the door.
After some initial success and finding the work enjoyable, Evans became interested in the lubrication field and began reading Machinery Lubrication magazine. He studied the articles and applied them to a component or a machine center at his site. When his sawmill burned down and was rebuilt from the ground up, Evans gained a new perspective on lubrication, seeing every component fall into place, understanding how each component affects the other and then implementing a lubrication regiment. Along the way, he kept reading and grasping for knowledge. This knowledge not only allowed him to become more efficient and effective but also helped turn his job into a career.
Q: What types of training have you taken to get to your current position?
A: I’ve had all kinds of different training. I’ve primarily learned through hard knocks, reading articles and drawing comparisons to my plant site. I’ve absorbed a great deal through independent learning and on-the-job training. I’ve had informal classes on certain topics related to lubrication. I’ve also completed an online course through Noria and attended a seminar. I feel like the formal education opened the doors to certification for me, but without the in-the-field experience, the formal courses would have been lost on me.
Q: What professional certifications have you attained?
A: I obtained my Machine Lubricant Analyst (MLA) Level I and Machine Lubrication Technician (MLT) Level I certifications in August 2015.
Q: Are you planning to obtain additional training or achieve higher certifications?
A: Yes, I absolutely intend to obtain more training and certifications. It’s my intention to certify myself as much as possible. Eventually, I’d like to pass the Machinery Lubrication Engineer (MLE) exam after I obtain my MLT II and MLA III certifications. I feel that certification gives you a sense of accomplishment and allows you to have great confidence moving forward. Of course, that confidence comes with the mastery of the body of knowledge and application of that knowledge. Since receiving formal training and certifications, I’m making smarter, more calculated decisions, and I will expand on that.
Q: What’s a normal work day like for you?
A: Typically, my day starts with reading over the notes from the shift before, looking to see if there’s anything that needs immediate attention. Then I’ll go reset some counters for oil consumption and walk through the plant site, giving my hydraulic units and centralized lube systems a one-minute inspection. While touring the plant, I listen for oddities and look for things that are off. After the assessment, I record oil consumptions, then begin to fill centralized systems and top off any low hydraulic power units (HPUs). While the plant is in production, I keep myself busy with blowing out heat exchangers, oiling chains and preparing projects for when there are breaks in production.
Between shifts, I prepare the plant site by topping off inaccessible centralized systems and/or servicing machine centers. There isn’t much time between shifts, so smaller tasks are the best option. The larger, more involved tasks wait until the weekend. Weekend days are filled with in-depth lubrication. I select machine centers according to the schedule and/or need, and lubricate from top to bottom while inspecting many different components along the way.
Q: What is the amount and range of equipment that you help service through lubrication/oil analysis tasks?
A: The amount of machines and machine centers I lubricate is vast. Aside from a handful of machine centers, the lubrication of the plant site is primarily my responsibility. The range is pretty diverse as well, including gearboxes, bearings, chains, airline oilers, hydraulics, rotary air compressors and centralized systems. We have more than 20 HPUs, all of which require oil analysis and service, in addition to several other components. When we suspect a problem or receive a poor report from the lab, I analyze oil via an onsite patch kit. Occasionally, I’ll pull a sample randomly just to take a look, but primarily oil sampling is done monthly.
Q: On what lubrication-related projects are you currently working?
A: Currently, I’m working on eliminating airline oilers plant-wide. I’m implementing centralized systems to take their place. You can spend a lot of time filling up more than a hundred airline oilers per week and making adjustments with environmental fluctuations and/or production demands. The centralized systems are more reliable and accurate while requiring far less attention after installation.
Q: What do you see as some of the more important trends taking place in the lubrication and oil analysis field?
A: What I’m noticing as a trend in lubrication and oil analysis is earlier detection. There’s more of an emphasis on catching slighter variances, which makes sense, as the sooner you can catch or monitor a condition, the better off you’ll be to resolve it moving forward. I’m also noticing better technology being used in lubrication and oil analysis. I haven’t been doing this forever, but from what I’ve seen, lubrication and oil analysis have come a long way. The field is quickly becoming more advanced.
Q: What has made your company decide to put more emphasis on machinery lubrication?
A: My company has put a greater emphasis on lubrication because they notice the effect it has on the bottom line. With adequate and proper lubrication practices, uptime related to reliability increases along with production and profits. In the absence of adequate lubrication practices, breakdowns occur, and production and profits suffer. A plant that doesn’t break down makes everyone involved happy. They have recognized that lubrication plays a critical role in this.
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