Bell Signals Reliability Improvements at Verso Paper

Tags: maintenance and reliability

Name: Caleb Bell

Age: 34

Title: Equipment Reliability Supervisor

Years of Service: 2½ years

Company: Verso Paper Corporation

Location: Jay, Maine

As the supervisor of reliability technicians at Verso Paper’s facility in Jay, Maine, Caleb Bell is responsible for the execution and continuous improvement of the company’s preventive and predictive maintenance program. His job is to understand and improve the program in order to make it the most effective and efficient that it can be. One day, Bell may be immersed only in lubrication-related activities, and the next he might be analyzing vibration signatures to determine response urgency. Although he has been in his current position at Verso Paper for only 2½ years, Bell has already made quite a difference.

Q What types of training have you taken to get to your current position?

I was able to get started in the industry when I earned my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Q What professional certifications have you attained?

I have Vibration Analyst Category 1 and Machine Lubricant Analyst Level 1 certifications.

Q Are you planning to obtain additional training or achieve higher certifications?

A I am working to get Vibration Analyst Category 2 and Machine Lubrication Technician Level 2 certifications.

Q What’s a normal work day like for you?

My day starts by reviewing the current schedule for the day, making sure there have been no process upsets that may require our attention and then bringing the crew up to speed with pertinent information. I start one hour before they arrive. Once the team is out in the facility servicing our equipment and executing our rounds, I work on verifying the accuracy of our listed routes, updating as necessary, planning equipment upgrades, preparing for machine maintenance downtime, and developing and executing capital projects.

Q What is the amount and range of equipment that you help service through lubrication/oil analysis tasks?

We have about 5,000 driven pieces of equipment and several thousand rotating pieces of equipment that are driven either by conveyor belts, gear trains or ropes. My department is responsible for all routine lubrication work on this equipment and also invasive inspections of gear and grid-type couplings, as well as universal-type drive shafts. I estimate that we have about 50,000 lubricated components for which we are responsible. We have 95 percent of them well-documented and are working on the rest.

Q What lubrication-related projects are you currently working on?

We designed and are now installing a centralized lubrication-dispensing station that will eliminate nine satellite dispensing locations that do not utilize proper contamination control or ergonomic considerations. This project will strategically locate four bar-tap type dispensing areas around the mill with 3-micron filtration of our three most widely used products. The dispensing stations will service all five of our paper machines. The project involves 1,500 feet of 1½-inch pipe and three 1,000-gallon reservoirs. We’ve been able to do this economically with some creativity and sound engineering.

We are also relocating and upgrading flow meters on an existing gearcase cascade system that has been problematic for years. This project will replace 45 improperly sized and uncalibrated universal-type flow meters, which were placed in very inconspicuous and hard-to-reach locations, with SKF Safematic type flow meters, which will be located directly in the path of our routine lubrication rounds, for consistent and reliable monitoring. The project involves more than 1,000 feet of tubing.

Q What have been some of the biggest project successes in which you’ve played a part?

In 2011, we installed two parallel-line automatic grease systems on the wet end of our paper machines. The systems service 65 bearings each and run on an 8-hour cycle. We are now able to grease 130 bearings 1,095 times per year, rather than the 12 times we had done on our previous 1-month cycle. The systems are running flawlessly, and we’ve had great results with bearing life. In addition, we removed one of the most difficult and strenuous portions of our job.

Q How does your company view machinery lubrication in terms of importance and overall business strategy?

It is viewed as absolutely critical and as a sure-win investment.

Q What do you see as some of the more important trends taking place in the lubrication and oil analysis field?

Education of stakeholders and a rapid swing toward reliability-based maintenance programs are two recent trends I’ve noticed. I think generally there was a large portion of the population that didn’t understand the criticality of proper lubricant selection, route design and execution. However, I’m seeing more folks from higher management tiers paying attention to their programs and receiving training about why it’s important and how to execute.

I also feel like industry in the United States has accepted that reactive maintenance will not allow us to survive in the global economy, and we are becoming humble enough to admit we need to improve.