Former Marine Spearheads ConAgra Lube Team

John Adam, a mechanic at the ConAgra facility in Milton., Pa., is leading the lubrication team at his plant. He began his career in maintenance in the early 1980s after leaving the United States Marine Corps, where he served as a generator technician. He was hired at ConAgra in 1988, but volunteered his services to participate on his company’s lubrication team so he could learn more about machinery lubrication.

What made ConAgra Foods of Milton, Pa., redesign its program to be more effective with lubrication?
We had corporate restructuring that put into effect our lubrication policy, for identification and consolidation of lubricants. It is to be incorporated with an AMD program for lessening downtime through operators as well as helping maintenance take ownership of their machines.

How did you get your start in machinery lubrication and how did it happen?I have been in maintenance since 1980 when I entered the USMC as a generator tech. I entered the public life in 1988 and joined my current position, but I actually volunteered to participate in this lubrication team about one year ago, when we started out with baby steps to fulfill our corporate wishes. Since then, it has been an eye opening experience of what is out there. At first it was hard to change my thinking, that new oil could be dirty.

ConAgra mechanic John Adam serves as the leader on his lubrication team at his facility. He volunteered to participate on his company’s lubrication team.

What types of training have you taken? No formal training at all. We have had suppliers in for a few educational meetings. And as you know, Noria visited recently for a “best practices” meeting.

What is the range of equipment that you service through lubrication tasks at your plant? Food processing equipment, can handling, cook pots, grinders, fillers, seamers, cookers, packaging, palletizers, etc.

What’s a normal work day like for you? I work the first shift, from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. I am primarily a mechanic/ coordinator with my spare time being taken up as lubrication team leader.

What lubrication-related items are you currently working on? We currently are working on introducing new grease, new bearing types and sort of a culture change within our maintenance ranks.

How does your company view machinery lubrication in terms of importance, strategy, etc.? As in the last question, it is quite a culture change, but we have been more reactive in the past “firefighting,” to put it bluntly. But we are coming along; we have a good team to keep it running with what we are given.

What have been some of the biggest lubrication project successes in which you have played a part? I can’t say I have been a big part of any as of yet, other than our identification project. We have had some supervisors involved in integrating the use of synthetic oils to some of our areas. This has made a big difference.

What do you see as some of the more important trends taking place in the lubrication and oil analysis field? I see everything as important right now. It is all new to me. We have never analyzed oil, sampled oil, or even looked at what we were using. We used what we were given. An old friend of mine once was asked by a factory rep, “Is that the factory recommended oil for that equipment?” His answer was, “Yes, it is my factory’s recommended oil for use in this equipment.”

We are in our infancy as far as lubrication goes. Most of our past information has come from oil suppliers that may have put their sales first and our equipment second. We have nowhere to go but up.

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