Hitting a High Note in Houston

Natalie Blythe, Noria Corporation
Tags: lubrication programs

With more than 400 industrial professionals congregating in Houston, Texas, the second-​annual Machinery Lubrication Conference & Exhibition was a resounding success. Held Nov. 4-6 at the Houston Marriott Westchase, the event drew global leaders from 21 countries, including the United States, looking for the latest and greatest solutions and services in lubrication and oil analysis.

Building on the achievements of last year’s inaugural event, Machinery Lubrication 2019 provided an unprecedented learning and networking experience for those in the lubrication and oil analysis industry, as well as offered a majority of first-time attendees with a valuable look into the industry.

“I did a lot of research on conferences, and this one popped up as one of the top choices with a lot of experts and interests in the field,” said first-time attendee Brad Owen of Cameco Corp. “I’ve been able to attend workshops and meet with people who want to accomplish the same things I am.”

Prior to the official start of the event, attendees were onsite for four pre-conference workshops. These workshops were “How to Design and Implement an Effective Lubrication Program” by Noria’s Wes Cash, “Best Practices for Developing and Maintaining a Powerful Oil Analysis Program” by Noria’s Alejandro Meza, “Simplified Root Cause Failure Analysis for Oil-Lubricated Machinery” by consulting engineer Heinz Bloch, and “How to Get Lubricant Selection Right Every Time” by Noria’s Bennett Fitch.

With great turnouts at all four workshops, attendees walked away with new tips and techniques to elevate their skills.

“The knowledge I’ve gained through the sessions has been tremendous,” said first-time attendee Andy Rankin, lubrication specialist at Michelin. “I’m new to my role, and the fact that this conference is specifically tuned into lubrication, it was an easy sell to come. If I had advice for someone new in their role, like me, the benefit of coming to this conference is that it’s so focused, specific and relatable in one place, amongst your peers.”

Monday evening ended on a high note as attendees got their first glimpse of the exhibit hall during the meet-and-greet reception. The intimate setting gave the record-breaking 47 exhibitors the opportunity to introduce attendees not only to their companies but also to their latest technologies and services.

“We had a good experience last year and could see that it would grow, so we came again,” said Aaron Pope, factory representative at Schaeffer’s Specialized Lubricants. “Last year was positive, and this year has been too. We’ve made several contacts and gotten several new leads for new customers.”

“This year over last year, there has definitely been more traffic and more qualified leads,” said Duke Cooper, operations manager of Hydrocarbon Filtration. “We’ve met a lot of colleagues within the industry, so for us, we need to do this (conference) every year.”

Echoing their thoughts was Bernie Hall, general manager at Checkfluid.

“This conference, because of the positioning, is a very vibrant part of the economy,” he said. “We felt it should be a good show, and it has been. A lot of existing customers have come by to discuss additional needs and also reconnect, and we’ve had a number of different new customers and potential new customers.”

In addition to returning exhibitors, Machinery Lubrication 2019 had several new exhibitors, such as Lucas Oil Products.

“We are breaking into the industrial market, and when I looked up industrial shows, this was the first one that popped up,” said Eddie Fischle, national accounts manager at Lucas Oil Products. “It’s been a great show. We’ve had lots of traffic that has come through, and it has all been solid leads. We’re coming to Galveston next year.”

Another first-time exhibitor was Texas Pride Fuels. “There’s been a lot of synergies with people visiting as both guests and exhibitors,” said Mike Kolek, lubricant division manager. “I also brought my team to attend sessions and push a lot of knowledge to them.”

Machinery Lubrication 2019 officially began on Tuesday, Nov. 5, with the opening keynote emceed by Cash. After welcoming everyone, Cash thanked the audience for attending the second-annual event, remarking on how successful the inaugural event was and how Machinery Lubrication 2019 continues to be a global gathering of people driving change in the lubrication and oil analysis industry.

Next on the agenda was recognition of the event’s sponsors: Bureau Veritas (oil analysis lab tour), Hilco (Wi-Fi internet), Hy-Pro Filtration (meet-and-greet reception), Luneta (networking reception), Noria (app), Royal Purple (breakfasts and lunches) and TTI (registration).

The event then shifted into the keynote address by Lance Allred, TEDx star, author and first deaf NBA player. Born with 80 percent hearing loss from rH complications at birth, Allred gave an inspirational presentation titled “Lions and Leaders: The Principles of Perseverance,” in which he revealed the five key principles that enabled him to achieve what many thought to be an unattainable goal.

As he introduced each principle, Allred engaged the audience by asking them to define the principle being discussed and then shared anecdotes from his childhood and basketball career, including his time playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

After concluding his address, Allred spent the rest of the morning autographing copies of his books and meeting with attendees and exhibitors.

The conclusion of the keynote address signaled the beginning of the learning sessions. Over the course of two days, attendees chose from 58 different sessions on topics ranging from lubrication best practices and contamination prevention to oil analysis reports, lean Six Sigma and detecting machine failures with the internet of things (IoT).

One highly attended session was “Synthetic or Mineral Oil? How to Make the Right Choice” by Noria’s Daniel Rader.

“I really enjoyed the sessions, especially those on the low-hanging fruit that we can take back and implement,” said first-time attendee Brandon Gaskey, lubricator at ATI. “It gets us better at our jobs, providing job-specific training.”

Echoing his comments was colleague and first-time attendee John Batrouny, maintenance superintendent at ATI SA&C.

“I attended a session that addressed KPIs (key performance indicators),” Batrouny said. “It’s not normally something we think about, and I really enjoyed it.”

The learning sessions also featured several case studies, including “How to Diagnose Lubrication Issues Using Vibration Analysis” by Baxter Stephenson, global maintenance excellence support leader at Sonoco, and “Case Study: Bunge’s Journey to World-Class Lubrication” by Jorge Alarcon, global customer technical manager at Bureau Veritas.

“There are little nuggets and gems in every session that I’ll be able to take back and implement into our lubrication program to make improvements right away,” Owen said. “With the knowledge and experience I’ve gained at this, coming to Machinery Lubrication 2020 will be an easy sell.”

Throughout Machinery Lubrication 2019, attendees visited exhibitor booths to get their game cards stamped in hopes of winning the show prize: a 2019 Sea-Doo Spark. On Wednesday, Nov. 6, a crowd gathered around the show prize booth as Ryan Kiker, group publisher at Noria, energized the crowd by thanking everyone for attending, as well as giving out several prizes, such as full-conference registrations to both Machinery Lubrication 2020 and the 2020 Reliable Plant Conference & Exhibition in Louisville, Kentucky. After that, Kiker had an audience member pull the winning game card from the box and announce the big winner: James Perkins, maintenance/lubrication technician at East Kentucky Power.

“This is perfect,” Perkins said. “I live right near Lake Cumberland.”

For 2020, the Machinery Lubrication Conference & Exhibition will head to the Galveston Island Convention Center in Galveston, Texas, Nov. 9-11. Visit conference.machinerylubrication.com for more information, including early-bird registration specials.