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Paperitalo Interview with Lubrication Engineers

Recently, Paperitalo Publications sat down and talked with Mark Jones, Lubrication Reliability Consultant, and Matt Valentine, Director of Sales. Both are with Lubrication Engineers, or, "LE" for short.

Paperitalo: Matt, can you give us brief overview of Lubrication Engineers?

Matt: We are celebrating our 70th anniversary this year. We are based out of Wichita, Kansas, where we formulate our own lubricants. Our facility contains manufacturing, warehousing, R&D and testing labs. We also have a training facility on site. Our consultants and distributors are located throughout the U.S. and in more than 60 countries. We are the single source for world class lubrication reliability programs.

Paperitalo: Since our listenership is primarily the pulp and paper industry, what is Lubrication Engineers' experience here?

Matt: We have developed lubricants specifically formulated to excel in difficult applications that are found in pulp and paper mills. These applications are critical to uptime and operational efficiency. Mark, want to add anything?

Mark: For example, we have developed a grease - Almaplex Ultra-Syn Lubricant (called 1299 for short) - that outperforms every grease we have competed against in water wash-off and water spray-off tests. In the field, 1299 has done a tremendous job from wet end bearings through the reel. For one customer, it reduced the grease consumption over 75% in second press bottom felt rolls and over 65% in the second press top felt rolls. Tremendous savings not even counting the labor effort and cost of grease saved.

We have also partnered with many pulp and paper locations to help develop and implement lubrication reliability programs designed to meet their reliability goals.

Paperitalo: You seem to focus on Lubrication Reliability - Mark, can you explain what this further?

Mark: We take a holistic approach in developing lubrication reliability programs. We treat the lubricant as an asset, not a consumable. By keeping it clean and dry, we extend the life of the lubricant as well as the equipment. Using premium lubricants to battle the harsh environment of the pulp and paper industry is a start, but we also work to keep the lubricant clean and dry with contamination control, oil analysis, and filtration. Proper storage and handling, as well as discrete lubricant identification round out the program.

Matt: Safety is first, and all our programs are designed to start with safety. Then we are driven by cost savings for our customers. We look for savings in energy consumption and in managing effective lubrication efforts. We help create lube routes and visual on-the-run maintenance checks using our sight glasses, breathers, color-coded tags, containers, lube rooms, filter carts, and adaptors.

Mark: All of these efforts are backed up by our whole team, our local lubrication consultants, and our corporate Lubrication Reliability Solutions team - LRS for short - that preemptively step into the complex details at a moment's notice.

Paperitalo: So, what might a customer expect from the Lubrication Engineers team?

Mark: Our 70 years' experience has taught us that a lubrication program is not just oil and grease. We see four basic steps, not necessarily in order here, to execute a successful experience.

First, we often must change the culture with training and education. This includes our awareness training, best practices and other courses that we provide in house or online. We start at the top of the organization--corporate champions--and then train each level through the mill with custom programs designed for their unique responsibilities and expertise.

Second, we identify critical equipment and confirm what lubricants each requires. We color-code the equipment with a unique identifier. This color coding will carry through the lubricants and all the apparatus necessary to effectively apply it and monitor performance.

Matt: Third, even though the lubricants are segregated from the factory, at the mill we sample the oil in storage and in the reservoir. It is like a blood test in that it reveals the condition of the oil as well as the condition of the equipment.

Finally, a proper oil analysis program will identify when to change and when to filter the oil while mill production continues. Thus, we know when to change the oil based on conditions, not the calendar. Analysis also gives us a very early indication of potential bearing and equipment damage.

Paperitalo: Contaminants are tough on equipment and lubrication; how do you overcome those challenges?

Mark: The most cost-effective way is to make every effort to keep contaminants out at the start. This best path to success is with a good oil analysis program and proper testing protocols in that program. We use industry standards for cleanliness with recommended ISO codes for hydraulic and gear oils. We work with our customers to establish best practices on how clean to maintain the oil for each application.

Oil analysis tells the story--it is scientific and analytic. We can interpret the samples and let our customers know when and where it is necessary to filter the oil while in production to minimize downtime. We install the appropriate equipment to do this.

Again, preventing contamination starts in the lube room upon receipt of the lubricants. The lubricant is quarantined and sampled to confirm it is the correct lubricant. After assurance checks, it is released for use.

Matt: Oil is then filtered into appropriate color-coded lube storage containers. Each container has adaptor kits to cleanly transfer from the drums though a filter cart or filtration unit supplied on the storage system. Our Tote Adaptor kits come with proprietary desiccant breathers that will stop particles down to 3 microns.

When oil is needed on the floor, we use our color-coded Xpel containers and filter carts to safely carry the oil to the floor. Segregation to assure no cross-contamination is paramount.

The containers and carts are connected to unique adaptor kits made specifically for each unique service. Adaptor kits eliminate the need for open conveyances. If only filtering is needed, appropriate closed equipment is rolled to the target location. This is like a kidney dialysis machine cleaning blood in our bodies. This can be done without downtime.

Mark: Samples are taken immediately after filtration to establish a new baseline of oil health. Then we continue to sample on a planned schedule to monitor and maintain oil health.

Using LE's Lubrication Reliability Program as described, in one mill we have safely gone eight years without changing the oil in a gearbox. Previously, this mill had changed oil every three to six months. The average length for oil life for LE oil is three to five years, dramatically lowering oil and labor cost.

In a hydraulic unit example, we have gone up to 11 years without changing the oil.

Matt: The types and severity of contaminants can change over time, but working closely with customers we can adjust and refine the programs as needed.

Knowing this process works, it is gratifying to see how mills evolve from a time-based contaminated mill using buckets and funnels, to a world class lubrication reliability program enhancing safety, increasing production, and reducing costs.

Paperitalo: Thanks, Mark and Matt. How do listeners reach you?

Matt: You can always go to our website at - which has sections dedicated to our lubricants and reliability products. We also have sections dedicated to specific applications and industries, including, of course, the pulp and paper industry. Our website also has a "Contact Us" section to help you find a local LE consultant or distributor wherever you are in the world.

Mark: Let me add, if you'd like to contact me directly, my email is

Paperitalo: Folks, we have been talking to Mark Jones and Matt Valentine of Lubrication Engineers. We recommend you give Lubrication Engineers an opportunity to work with your mill.


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