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Name: Donald Myers
Title: Mechanical Maintenance and Lubrication Technician
Company: Yates Services
Years of Service: 21 years
Location: Smyrna, Tenn.
Donald Myers serves as a mechanical maintenance and lubrication technician for Yates Services, which is a contractor at the Nissan assembly plant in Smyrna, Tenn. After starting out in production-assist jobs like separating parts and picking wiring harnesses to send to the assembly line, Myers now works with the conveyor and lubrication crew. He currently directs all floor activities for the lubrication-management program, which is in the first year of a five-year plan to turn the plant into a world-class lubrication facility.
Q: What types of training have you taken to get to your current position?
A: To get into maintenance, I had to be able to weld, and there were a couple of older guys willing to teach me and let me practice during my lunch breaks. To keep moving up in the maintenance group, I had to take some night classes at a local vocational school. The most helpful were on electricity, motor controls and programmable logic controllers (PLCs).
Q: When did you get your start in machinery lubrication and how did it happen?
A: During those first few years of production-assist jobs, I would volunteer to work shutdowns with the maintenance groups until I got a chance to move up. We are a multi-tasked crew, but the last five years for me have been mostly all lubrication-oriented.
Q: What professional certifications have you attained?
A: I have certificates in motor controls; PLC; heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC); and automotive repair. In high school, I attended a hydraulics/pneumatics course that was sponsored by Nissan. My latest achievement was obtaining a Machine Lubrication Technician (MLT) Level I certification through the International Council for Machinery Lubrication (ICML).
Q: Are you planning to obtain additional training or achieve higher certifications?
A: Next, I am going for my MLT Level II certification. One reason is, of course, to make myself a stronger member of the workforce, but another is to have a better understanding of what is happening with a certain lubricant inside a hydraulic system or gearbox. I like what one of my instructors used to say: “I’m going to teach you the why, not just the what.”
Q: What’s a normal work day like for you?
A: I work a production shift, so most things are running. If there are no breakdowns, we do preventive maintenance and check/top-off reservoirs. We may receive a bulk oil delivery and take a sample for our lab to verify before putting it into service. Lately, I have been building portable oil-dispensing filter carts as an upgrade to our lube program.
Q: What is the amount and range of equipment that you help service through lubrication/oil analysis tasks?
A: There are hundreds of hydraulic reservoirs in the plant, ranging from one to 1,400 gallons, as well as hundreds of gearboxes and countless grease fittings.
Q: What have been some of the biggest project successes in which you’ve played a part?
A: The latest is by far the largest. We started out in the stamping plant, color-coding lubricants and buying sealable and reusable (S&R) containers for top-offs. Then, we added kidney-loop systems and implemented new procedures to control contamination. This project has since spread plant-wide.
Q: How does your company view machinery lubrication in terms of importance and overall business strategy?
A: Everyone knows the importance of lubrication, just like in the old example of changing the oil in your car for added value and longevity. But several months ago, Chad Crane (one of my many bosses) took an ICML course and came back on a mission - take a good lubrication program and make it world class. I think we are well on our way.
Q: What has made your company decide to put more emphasis on machinery lubrication?
A: The dollar is always a huge factor, but I also think it is a matter of us just trying to be better. With the leadership we have here at Nissan, they know that in order to build reliable vehicles you have to have reliable equipment. With this combination, it can only guarantee success.
Q: What do you see as some of the more important trends taking place in the lubrication and oil analysis field?
A: I would like to think conservation and the “green initiative” will be a big incentive for taking better care of our equipment and lubricants. The longer a lubricant can stay efficiently in service, the less of an impact oil change-outs or spills from damaged equipment can have on the environment. Think about it. You have to buy new oil, and then you have to recycle the old oil. There are also oily rags and containers that all have to be taken care of. Everything we do has an impact, and as an industry, I hope we are all doing our part to lessen the negative ones.