Stephen Leard is a lubrication specialist at Power Partners Inc. in Athens, Ga., a leading manufacturer of overhead distribution transformers, serving utility, industrial and commercial customers in North America, Central America, the Caribbean and other markets. Leard has spent the past five years with the company where he has also served as a coil-winding specialist and maintenance technician. Before joining Power Partners, Leard worked for 28 years as a production operator and maintenance technician at Johnson & Johnson.
Stephen Leard (right) and Manvil Johnson (left) stand in front of their mobile lubrication cart at the Power Partners Inc. plant in Athens, Ga.
When did you get your start in machinery lubrication and how did it happen? I was elevated to lubrication specialist two years ago when Power Partners Inc. hired a new reliability engineer.
What types of training have you taken to get you to your current position? The Noria training on hydraulic processes and lubrication training as well as the Noria MLT Level I training.
What professional certifications have you attained? I currently hold Electrical Specialist Level I and II certification, Machine Shop certification Level I, Confined Space and Rescue certification and CPR and First-Aid certification. I am also working on ICML MLT Level I certification.
What’s a normal work day like for you? A typical day is very busy, starting off with daily checks of all hydraulic units, including temperature readings of oil and pump/motor groups. We conduct oil checks on 22 oil vacuum pump units, grease route checking on auto grease applicators and rotate three oil filtration carts and two oil dehydration carts. I also respond to service calls relating to hydraulics and oil lubrication issues.
What is the amount and range of equipment that you help service through lubrication/oil analysis tasks? We have more than 50 hydraulic power units, 22 oil vacuum units, a 100-gpm-capacity oil-degas system, 25 automatic grease applicators, two mobile oil dehydration carts and three mobile oil filtration carts.
What lubrication-related projects are you currently working on? We are focusing on the standardization of hydraulic filters shop-wide, standardization of all oil vacuum equipment, retro-fitting all hydraulic power units for in-line oil filtration, a new lube-storage room and moving the shop from time-based maintenance to condition-based maintenance.
What have been some of the biggest project successes in which you’ve played a part? We have seen our total oil usage reduced by 59 percent over the last 18 months, representing an annual cost savings of more than $46,000, by migrating from a time-based to condition-based approach with our lubrication program.
How does your company view machinery lubrication in terms of importance and overall business strategy? It is very important to PPI. Management has committed to have a trained lubrication specialist such as myself on each shift who is dedicated solely to lubrication issues. PPI is also paying the cost to have us trained and certified by ICML.
What do you see as some of the more important trends taking place in the lubrication and oil analysis field? With the ever-increasing cost of oil and grease, it is becoming more important that we find ways to get what oil and grease we use to last longer with no ill effects on equipment availability. To that extent, we look for vendors and suppliers who put more emphasis on reliability rather than making a sale.