Having a Voice at the Town Hall Meeting

The Practicing Oil Analysis 2000 International Conference and Exhibition was an overwhelming success. Held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the venue seemed electrified with enthusiasm for oil analysis and the direction in which our industry is heading. From Jerry Putt’s (Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company) extremely well received keynote address to the closing “Town Hall Meeting” open forum, delegates enjoyed a sense of community with their colleagues at other plants and laboratories from around the world.

The conference highlighted presentations ranging from basic topics in oil analysis to discussions of exciting new oil analysis technologies. Among the most successful sessions was the closing session . . . an open forum discussion we call the Town Hall Meeting. In this session, industry participants got the chance to speak their mind about various issues related to used oil analysis. The only disappointment in the session was the lack of time to talk about all the important issues. We definitely have things to discuss next year. Here is a brief synopsis of what was discussed at the meeting. Of course, the only way to truly benefit from the Town Hall Meeting format is to participate in the proceedings. So be sure you are there next year.

Standardization was on everybody’s mind at the Town Hall Meeting. Everyone seems to want step-by-step instructions to which the industry can conform. Tasks suggested for certification ranged from used oil analysis testing procedures to sampling procedures.

Dwayne Jenkins of Reliant Energy discussed some of his ideas and concerns regarding when to sample and how often. He also touched on the idea of pushing forward some standards for the installation of valves.

Jack Poley of CTC commented on standardizing labels, bottles, etc. But he mentioned that standardizing should remain general rather than very specific.

Standardizing Best Practices was also mentioned. Sharing ideas and success stories will help the industry as a whole. A good way to share a new method or procedure that works is to share the idea on Web-enabled message boards.

In summary, the consensus was that oil analysis standardization is a must to ensure data quality. If our data is not reliable, our decisions and recommendations can’t be reliable.

Certification was a hot topic in the Town Hall. Two forms of certification were discussed: internal (company specific) and external (industry specific).

Jerry Putt commented that some corporate groups require certain levels of expertise from employees. The development of in-house programs to train machinists and others how to be experts with the use of equipment on a day-to-day basis would be beneficial to the company as a whole.

However, Jerry also noted that general industry certification is important to ensure that the individual understands the field as a whole. It is important to note that certified does not mean qualified and vice versa. It is an ever-evolving process. Continued education and training is a must to keep individuals at the top of their trade.

In summary, most at the meeting felt that skill competency certification is important and is necessary for the development of our industry. Some organizations will elect to internally certify their specialists. Others will rely solely on outside organizations. Still others will employ a hybrid approach, which in time may prove the most viable.

Onsite Versus Offsite
The most widely discussed topic at the Town Hall meeting was onsite versus offsite oil analysis.

According to Arnold Sugarman, “onsite analysis should be seen as offsite analysis.” He feels this state of mind makes the reception of the results more credible because the person pulling the sample tends to be more liable for the quality of the end result.

Sharon Dory of J.R. Simplot felt that analysis on critical equipment should be left to the professionals, but lower rated equipment can be easily trended onsite. Sharon also pointed out that another thing to consider is how morale will be affected when machinists pull their own samples. Will their ownership of the job at hand increase? If they get involved with the trending of data will their interest level increase?

It all boils down to the following according to Jerry Putt: cost, unions, size of facilities, location, etc. Stated simply, in some cases a substantial onsite oil analysis program is viable from the economic and/or cultural perspective; in other cases it is not.

In summary, most felt there is a place for onsite oil analysis and a place for laboratory analysis. Oil analysis programs can be effective with one, the other or a combination. The key is to determine which is right for your organization.

Due to the popularity of the Town Hall Meeting, the plan for next year is to expand the available time for the Town Hall Meeting session at the conference. Between now and then, submit your ideas for topics that need to be addressed in this format to the editorial staff of Practicing Oil Analysis magazine.

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