Esco Blog

  • Creating & Sustaining Reliability

    checklist picI recently interviewed a person who developed, implemented and sustained their company’s reliability program. The company realized tremendous results from these changes, extending the intervals between oil changes and reducing repairs and downtime on their equipment.  How did they succeed where so many others have failed?

    1. Having a Reliability Leader - It’s important to have someone in charge of developing the lubrication practices at your facility. Choosing a leader who is knowledgeable and passionate about reliability is imperative. This person should create procedures and make sure all employees are aware of any changes
    2. Consolidating Lubricants - Reducing the different types of lubricants being used is a good starting point. You may find that you can cut the number of oils your facility uses in half, simply by evaluating the current recommendations. You may also find that you haven’t been using the best type of lubricant for each application.
    3. Centralized Storage – Designating an area for lubricant storage is imperative. Making sure everything is properly stored and labeled is the first step. Many failures are attributed to someone adding the wrong type of oil. These failures are easy to avoid if the type of oil is clearly labeled and easy to locate. You want to be certain that everyone knows where to find a lubricant and where to put it back when done with it.
    4. Documentation - Having written procedures is essential in creating a proper lubrication program. Without documentation, it’s going to be difficult to evaluate your current practices, sustain any improvements, or ensure new employees know how you expect things to be done.  There needs to be clear instructions every step of the way.  This includes:  Receiving & storing new lubricant's;  dispensing new lubricants;  drawing proper samples for analysis; equipment checklists
    5. Oil Analysis - Sampling oils is one practice in which I see a lot of confusion. If done properly, this is a great way to catch early problems before they result in critical failures.  If done wrong, this can be a complete waste of time and money.  There are some important things to consider before implementing oil sampling.  a.)  Will you make changes based on those results?  b.)  Do you know how to read the oil analysis reports?  c.) Are you testing your oil for the correct things?  d.)  Are you pulling samples in a proper way to ensure you get accurate representative samples?

    When implementing changes to your current lubrication practices, it’s important to do so methodically. Choose a reliability leader to guide your program.  Gradually improve your practices, document them, and keep others informed of the changes.  Over time your reliability will improve as you continue to adjust and tweak your program.  You can then continue to evaluate your program to look for other areas that need improvement.  As the old adage says, “Slow and steady wins the race”.

     

    This article was written by Chris Haught, CLS, is a Technical Sales & Product Manager for Esco Products, Inc.  Chris is available to work with customer to establish reliability and lubrication best practice programs, conduct facility surveys, and offer on-site training, action items and product recommendations.

     

  • Happy Holidays from Esco Products

    We would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our customers and partners a safe and happy holiday season.  We appreciate your business and we look forward to working with you in 2017.

    Tom, Chris, Tater, Lindsey, Loretta, David, Val, Coy, Mary Lee, David & Koda Esco Products:  Tom, Chris, Tater, Lindsey, Loretta, David, Val, Coy, Mary Lee, David & Koda

  • Small Business, BIG Advantages

    Original Equipment Manufacturers, also known as OEMs, can be heartless when dealing with smaller distributors and often offer the contracts to larger distributors believing they are somehow easier and more efficient to work with but I believe the pendulum will swing the other way.

    Bigger is not always better.  Big distributors can choke on their bureaucracies and management layers built into the fabric of the organization.  Small business is efficient and flexible to change, every penny is accounted for wherein big distributors are prone to abuse and waste.  Often times the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.  A well run small distributor prides itself on communication, organization and accountability.

     Small distributors have simplistic visions and values and are in the best position to know and satisfy their customer needs.  Overhead structures make them extremely competitive.  Most products sold are commodities which are price driven and the larger distributor with this higher overhead typically have higher prices.

    According to Industrial Supply magazine, the Industrial Supply Ass (ISA) conducted a 2015 survey of 144 members to determine that for small distributors to gain an edge they typically focus on the following:

    •  Problem-solving
    • Product application expertise
    • Long standing customer relationships
    • Excellent customer service
    • Intimate market knowledge

     Esco’s motto for over 50 years has been “Service and Solutions”.  We pride ourselves on superior customer service, a commitment to assist in correct product selection for specific applications and the ability and willingness to ensure customer satisfaction with price, superior products and on-time delivery.  In other words, all the points determined by the ISA study.

     So the next time and OEM says they want to work with a larger distributor, explain the small distributor advantages!

     

  • Lubrication Best Practices Workshop in Houston, TX

    About 3 to 4 times a year, Esco Products hosts a 1-Day Lubrication Workshop in our hometown, Houston, Texas.  Lubrication is the foundation to any reliability-driven maintenance program and, done correctly, can save thousands of dollars- not to mention increase equipment uptime. The 1-day workshops are designed to teach you the basics of implementing lubrication best practices at your own facility.  If free training wasn’t enough to get you there, we also bribe you with a free, delicious lunch (dessert too).  We are hosting our last workshop of 2016 on Tuesday, November 15th at Maggiano’s Little Italy in the Galleria area and you do not want to miss it.

     

    What you need to know:

    Who: Esco Products, Inc. will be hosting &  Des-Case Corporation’s Jarrod Potteiger presenting

    What: A Complimentary, full-day of professional instruction for reliability and lubrication professionals (valued at $400) – A light breakfast and full lunch included

    When: Tuesday, November 15th from 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM

    Where:  Maggiano’s Little Italy’s Trentino Room – 2019 Post Oak Blvd – Houston, TX 77056

     

    This course will help you:

    Evaluate the current status of your lubrication practices relative to best-in-class programs

    Understand the fundamentals of lubrication & lubrication management

    Create a customized action item list to help you transform your lubrication practices

     

    Lubrication Training Course Curriculum:

    * Role of lubrication in machine reliability * Lubrication theory & fundamentals * Lubricates failure modes * Grease application methods * How to select the right lubricant * Lubricant contamination control * Storage and handling of lubricants * Oil sampling methods * Equipment modifications * Lubrication policy development *

    All attendees will receive a Lubrication Best Practices Course Certificate.   This workshop is not a sales pitch. We guarantee that the content of the course is strictly educational.

    classroom

    For more information or to SIGN UP for the workshop, contact:

    Lindsey McGee - 713.661.5514 – lmcgee@esco-inc.com

    One more thing, there will be CHEESECAKE!  Hope to see you there!

  • The Importance of Establishing an Oil's Shelf Life

    I was recently assisting a plant evaluate their lubricant storage practices. During this trip, I was brought to four drums of the same type of oil.  These drums were all stored vertically on a pallet with absolutely no protection from the elements.  Dirt and water was pooled on top, and many of the labels had been bleached almost illegible from continuous exposure to sunlight.  Only one of these drums had been opened.  Upon further inspection we realized that the opened drum was six months old, and the oldest unopened drum was over five years old.

    When I pointed out that one of the drums of “new” oil had been sitting there for over five years, the person I was with didn’t understand why this was a problem. “Oil is millions of years old.” they said, “How can 5 years in storage do any damage?”  We then examined the drum for a “use by” date and quickly discovered it didn’t have one.  This left a big question; how long can oil be stored?

    While searching for an answer, I found many conflicting opinions. One thing was consistent; oil does indeed have a shelf life.  This shelf life will depend on many factors, the top one being the conditions in which the lubricant is stored.

     

    Oil Storage

    drums

    Outdoor storage of oil drums will contribute to the contamination and degradation of the oil. A sealed drum of oil will still expel and pull in air as the temperature within the drum changes.  If water and dirt is allowed to collect on top of the drum, the water and dirt will enter the drum during this venting process.

    Gradual ingression of dirt and moisture will have a cumulative effect on the quality of the lubricant. Water content will increase the rate of oxidation and can react with certain additives to form sludge. Exposure to the sun will increase the oil’s temperature, also increasing the rate of oxidation (for every 18°F increase in temperature, the oxidation rate doubles, cutting the usable life of oil in half).  The longer the drum is exposed to these conditions, the greater the damage done.

    Improving the storage practices will reduce the exposure to contaminants, but extended storage, even in the best conditions, will degrade the quality of lubricant. One of the biggest concerns with long term oil storage is the separation of additives.

     

    Oil Additives

    Additives are added to base oils to improve the performance of the lubricant. Specific purposes of various lubricant additives are to reduce friction and wear, prevent corrosion, improve oxidation resistance, and stabilize a lubricant’s viscosity over wide range of temperatures.  However some additives, such as sulfur, are insoluble to oil.  Excessive storage can result in the additives separating, thus rendering the additive unusable.  If this occurs, the lubricant may not function properly.

     

    Shelf Life Estimates          

     expiration dates

    The usable shelf life of a lubricant is greatly dependent on the type of lubricant, the method in which it is stored, and the container size it is purchased in. Lubricant manufacturers have differing opinions on how long a lubricant can be safely stored.

    Source: “Lubricant Storage, Stability, and Estimated Shelf Life.” 2013 Chevron Marine Products, LLC Source: “Lubricant Storage, Stability, and Estimated Shelf Life.” 2013 Chevron Marine Products, LLC

     

    Shelf Life & Container Type

    ExxonMobil estimates that their oils will last up to 10 years in storage, while their greases will last anywhere from 2 to 6 years. However, the life expectancy of oil changes based on the type of container it is stored in.  Oils stored in quart containers have an estimated shelf life of 10 years, while drums only have a 5 year shelf life.  Quarts will last longer in storage for two main reasons; plastic containers do not promote oxidation (as do steel drums) and quarts will typically be properly sealed, so they will not be exposed to outside contaminants during storage.

    Source: “Aviation Lubricant Shelf Life.” 2015 Exxon Mobil Corporation

     

    Confirm Oil Condition with Analysis  

    beaker of oil

    Lubricant manufacturers are adamant that their estimates on shelf life are not absolute, but rather a guideline. Once their estimated shelf lives are reached, it’s suggested that a user should utilize oil analysis to validate if the lubricant is suitable for use.

     

    Take Action

    • Make sure you pay attention to the length of time a lubricant is allowed to sit before being used.  Document the date you received and opened any lubricants.
    • Try to cycle inventory to use the oldest material first and purchase lubricants in a quantity that will be used in a timely fashion.
    • Improve the storage practices of your lubricants.  Moving to indoor storage in a climate controlled area will greatly reduce the degradation of your oils and greases.
    • If you must store oils outside, do so in a way that prevents water and dirt from freely collecting and entering the bungs.

     


    Continued Education

    To learn more about proper storage and handling techniques, take advantage of online resources. The links below are organizations that are dedicated to lubrication fundamentals and best practice:

    http://www.lubecouncil.org/ - ICML (International Council for Machinery Lubrication) offers training and certifications for a wide range of lubricating topics.

    www.machinerylubrication.com - Noria’s online publication focusing on current best practice.  They also offer training courses relevant to lubrication fundamentals.

    www.reliabilityweb.com – This online resource offers articles, videos and tips on everything from asset management to condition monitoring.

  • I Know a Guy: Tips From an Expert Networker

    "I know a guy." Standing 6 foot 5 inches tall with a solid frame, Esco's Coy Christoffel, isn't your typical social butterfly. I really can't imagine him fluttering around at all so maybe we should just refer to him as a social bull? Whatever you want to call him, Coy has been crowned Esco's expert networker.

    When Coy joined the Esco outside sales team in 2015, we joked that when we went looking for resources outside of our company, Coy always, "knew a guy." I always wondered how one could know that many “guys” and if they could actually help us. The thing is, "his guys" have pulled through on more than one occasion. Coy helped us bolster our cyber security best practices, connected us with a professional who improved our IT support and staff situation, and provided a reliable vendor for marketing promotional activities, all while bringing in new customers for our business - and all of it resulting from knowing someone or knowing someone who knows someone in each industry.

    How does he do it?  What makes him a good networker?  Why are making personal connections so important and how do you leverage these relationships to benefit you, other networkers, or your company?  I sat down with Coy to learn a thing or two about improving my networking skills, because no matter what industry or job position you are in, it is always good to know a guy.

    How do you meet people?

    Coy:  Everywhere – the clerk at the gas station, a fellow customer at the dry cleaners, my local produce guy, the pizza delivery guy (For most it's a second job.  He could be a petroleum engineer going through a Dave Ramsey program).  I've had a beer with the CEO of major energy companies who look like beach bums.  Appearances can be deceiving.

    What are some of the organizations you are involved in?

    Coy:  I'm the Secretary for the local STLE Chapter, SMRP Houston Chapter, as well as Cub Master for my son’s Boy Scout Pack.

    But my passion is the RedNet, which I run out of the Redneck Country Club.  I started this group almost three years ago as a business networking/small business incubator to help small business owners or corporate guys pursue their small manufacturing company they run out of their garage.  During this time we've helped five small business owners start their companies and generate enough revenue to leave their corporate life.  Currently the RedNet consists of about 450 members with an average meeting attendance of 80 each month.  

    How do you leverage your networks to bring in business?

    Coy:  It takes one very important ingredient - a servant mentality.  Like the Boy Scouts, the RedNet's main mantra is dedication to being a service organization.  We are here to serve each other.  Many other networking groups are filled with vampires looking to line their pockets and move on.  I follow up on all referrals 100% of the time because my name is attached to that business, and I want to do good business.

    What are some of the ways you have directly benefited from your networking?

    Coy:  It's not all about the money.  Influence and trust is a much more valuable currency, but always requires a large amount of respect.

     From coming to work at ESCO because of my relationship with you guys over the years. It has brought me business as well.  It brought me what I expect to turn into my first white paper by helping one of the largest airports in the nation revamp their maintenance program.  

    What’s the number one thing to remember when networking?

    Coy:  I'm a Tim Ferris junky.  I listen to every podcast, and the 4hour work week is one of my main reference books.  Tim has a great podcast on networking and one of the best quotes for networking.  “Don’t dismiss people, don’t be a d*ck, and don’t rush. Play the long game.” – Tim Ferriss

    How do I combat any social anxiety and start up a conversation with people I don’t know?

    Coy:  Realize that the other person may be just as uncomfortable as you are, and that's ok.  What’s not ok is going through life without taking any risks. 

    Are there any other important takeaways or tips to improve networking?

    Coy:  THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO TAKE AWAY FROM THIS IS THAT IT IS ALL ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP.  People do business with people they like and trust.  I want every client to trust me with their business, their money, and their trust. I recommend reading Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, to determine where you fit in the networking spectrum.

     

    Coy gives great advice when it comes to networking, and we are lucky to have him on the Esco Sales team. As a company, we try to grow our network all of the time.  Not only can you meet new people, it’s a way to share ideas and start new partnerships or develop new products.  We attend industry tradeshows and networking events like Noria’s Reliable Plant or The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Annual Conference and local Houston chapter conference.  Some of our best products and product improvements were developed from talking with attendees at tradeshows.  We also sponsor corporate events, like golf tournaments, and host events such as lunch-and-learn presentations as a way to interact with our customers.

    Volunteering is a great way to network and do something good for your community. What are some of the ways you like to network?

  • Welcome to the Esco Blog!

    Esco has launched a new monthly blog that we plan to fill with useful information about the reliability world.  Our goal is to post helpful reliability tips, lubrication best practices, training opportunities and ideas for professional growth.  We hope you enjoy reading and will stop by often.

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