Oil Analysis and the Lean Organization

Jim Fitch, Noria Corporation
Tags: oil analysis

Like people, organizations have their defining moments– points in time when old notions and business paradigms must be cast aside. Indeed, as we cross into the new millenium, such transformations are permeating nearly all business sectors.

Fortunately most industries and organizations will survive beautifully, but not without radical change. Just as people will often “wait until a heart attack" to face harsh life-style realities, so too companies may attempt to postpone the inevitable. And, when it occurs, the heart attack or crisis becomes a blessing of sorts. Critical motivation is achieved, compelling enough to put aside ritual practices and dogged resistance.

The process of re-engineering then begins, and with it is the dawn of a new era of machine reliability and production efficiencies. This past week I was fortunate enough to tour a pulp mill more than four years into their transformation. For them, the vision was no longer imaginary. It was heart-pounding reality, a casebook of learning, planning, and executing.

Perhaps they have taken it too far or perhaps not. The mill floors were immaculate, as were their machines, inside and out. Cleanliness maniacs for sure, but there was method to their madness. And, they didn't stop with clean oil. They routinely pull strategic samples from live zone ports on bearing returns and case drains. By deciphering the imbedded information in their oil, like wizards, they have accurately detected incipient fault and impending failure conditions.

This mill's maintenance team is an internal reliability engine whose members work towards common goals. They deploy integrated skills and technologies with remarkable success. And, they’ve got the numbers to prove it. Currently, the mill's machinery is achieving nearly 98% availability. Incredibly, nearly 75% of all tradesmen have been through a minimum of four days of training on lubrication and oil analysis.

When it comes to lubrication and oil analysis there are numerous world-class maintenance organizations such as this pulp mill. Practicing Oil Analysis '99 Conference & Exhibition, October 26-27, will host many presentations by lead oil analysis organizations. In fact, a panel of expert users has been assembled to take probing questions and share their experiences–a great opportunity to learn from the best of the best.

See you there!

James C. Fitch


About the Author

Jim Fitch, a founder and CEO of Noria Corporation, has a wealth of experience in lubrication, oil analysis, and machinery failure investigations. He has advised hundreds of companies on developing their lubrication and oil analysis programs. Contact Jim at

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