Oil Analysis is Team Game For Kuchler and Johnson Controls

"Get to Know …" features a brief question-and-answer session with a Machinery Lubrication reader. These articles put the spotlight on industry professionals and detail some of the lubrication-related projects they are working on. If you know of an ML reader who deserves to be profiled, e-mail editor-in-chief Paul V. Arnold at parnold@noria.com.

Featured ML reader: John Kuchler

Employer: Johnson Controls Inc.

Job title: Manager of the predictive diagnostics team at the company's facilities in Milwaukee.

How many years have you been at this company?: 17 years

Where else have you worked over the years, and what has been your range of job titles?: I previously worked at Wisconsin Electric (now We Energies), the state's largest utility company, as a vibration and instrument intern.

What types of education and training have you taken to get you to your current job?: I earned a bachelors degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and have taken training to obtain various professional certifications. I've also attended a variety of conferences on machinery lubrication. In fact, I recently attended a training class by Jim Fitch on "Oil Analysis Better and Best Practices" at a meeting of the Wisconsin chapter of the Vibration Institute.

Do you hold any certifications through ICML, STLE or any other body?: I have my Machine Lubrication Technician Level I certification through the International Council on Machinery Lubrication and an ISO Category 3 certification through the Vibration Institute.


John Kuchler works for Johnson Controls in Milwaukee.

When did you get your start in machinery lubrication, and how did it happen?: It all started 15 years ago. Training was required so we could better understand oil analysis results and how to best gather reliable oil samples. There was significant misunderstanding about the various tests we performed on oil samples. We needed to know how much we could rely on the tests we were performing and if our sampling methods were introducing errors into the results. We also needed to understand the source of contaminants in the oils - whether they were additives, possible wear metals or oxidized metals.

What's a normal work day like for you?: The day is spent working with our field technicians and other service personnel to maintain a quality program that delivers and communicates accurate and useful results. This involves researching various suppliers of hardware, software and technical services that support our service delivery organization. We maintain databases that store predictive data on the machines for which we are responsible; this also includes data supplied to us from third-party oil analysis labs. It is our responsibility to set limits and determine acceptable levels of contaminants, additives and physical properties of oil on the equipment we service. We use various resources to accomplish this including the OEM, statistical analysis of the database, chemical properties and our own experience on equipment operation.

What is the amount and range of equipment that you service at your plant?: We support thousands of machines across the globe for our service organization. We have specialized focus on HVAC equipment, but we also support production equipment applications.

What lubrication-related projects are you currently working on?: I am evaluating the statistical results of the database on oils and refrigerant used in refrigeration compressors. I'm also determining how to set useful and meaningful limits and defining rules that can be used to automate the analysis process.

What have been some of the biggest lubrication project successes for which you have played a part?: I'd say it's the integration of fluid analysis into our overall machinery condition monitoring service. This was important to tie all of the diagnostics together. Results are often confusing when various diagnostic technologies are brought together independently because they can sometimes contradict one another, or people often have a misunderstanding of where each technology is best suited to solve their problems. We brought the technologies together, educated ourselves on the proper application for each technology and implemented rules that help us drive the correct maintenance activity.

How does your company view machinery lubrication and/or oil analysis in terms of importance and strategy?: Predictive technologies, which include oil analysis and machinery lubrication, are a critical component in delivering a quality service product to our clients. Oil analysis is a requirement on every project we work on. We have extensive knowledge in the area of HVAC equipment and how oils are affected by refrigeration systems and how to obtain useful information from oils on those systems. Oil analysis gives us another dimension that is needed in directing maintenance activity. We have found that regular sampling schedules are important, and trending of data provides valuable insight into equipment and system condition and future maintenance planning.

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