Goodyear's Smith Sees the Benefits of Installing Lubrication Best Practices

Chris Smith, one of the subjects of this issue's "Get to Know ..." section, is certainly a guy on the rise. Chris is a principal engineer for the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. He has worked 11 years at Goodyear, serving as a machine design mechanical engineer and then maintenance engineer at one of the company's North American manufacturing facilities before moving into his current position as a corporate reliability engineer. In this role, he works for the Global Engineering & Manufacturing Technology division in Akron, Ohio, and is responsible for designing, specifying, procuring and installing tire manufacturing equipment at Goodyear facilities around the world. Let's learn more about Chris Smith.

When did you get your start in machinery lubrication, and how did it happen?: It happened around 2001. I was working on the replacement of a slow-speed, 30-inch-ID taper roller bearing set. When the replacement was complete and it was time to pack it with grease, the conversation between the craftsmen went something like this: "I like the red stuff." "Well, I like the green stuff." Then there was the obligatory feeling of the grease between the fingers to determine the "thickness." So, we packed it with the green grease and installed it. That was the start of my lubrication learning journey. I knew that there had to be more science to lubrication than picking colors and feeling it between your fingers. After this event, I started to educate myself about lubrication.


Chris Smith works to make tire manufacturing equipment more reliable at Goodyear plants around the world.

What types of training have you taken to get you to your current job?: I've received a lot of training - machinery lubrication, oil analysis, vibration analysis, lean, Six Sigma, failure analysis, reliability principles, fastener application, Lufkin gear school and I'm sure others that I have forgotten to mention.

Do you hold any professional certifications?: I have my Machine Lubricant Analyst Level I and Machine Lubrication Technician Level I certifications through the International Council for Machinery Lubrication. I also am a Certified Maintenance & Reliability Professional through the Society for Maintenance & Reliability Professionals and a Certified Reliability Engineer through the American Society for Quality, and hold a professional certificate in reliability and quality engineering from the University of Arizona.

What's a normal work day like for you?: The average day includes advising plant and project engineers on various reliability topics including lubrication, working with design teams at corporate headquarters to design and specify more reliable equipment, and working to standardize processes.

What lubrication-related projects are you currently working on?: I'm working on a lubrication training presentation for engineers as well as the design and installation of a lubricant storage room for one of our Asia-Pacific plants.

What have been some of the biggest lubrication project successes for which you have played a part?: I would say that sharing practical lubrication knowledge with plant personnel in a way that enables them to implement best practice principles is my biggest success. Teaching allows me to multiply the effectiveness of my lubrication knowledge. In one instance, while visiting a plant that I had worked with about one year earlier, I saw a sign next to a hydraulic unit that showed downtime of the unit over the past three years. For the first two years, downtime was between 3,000 and 4,000 minutes per year. The third year was around 300 minutes. The difference was the implementation of best practices regarding hydraulic oil, keeping it clean, cool, dry and isolated from the ambient atmosphere. Seeing the success of a project based on a best practice was a great feeling.

How does your company view machinery lubrication and/or oil analysis in terms of importance, strategy, etc.?: At Goodyear, lubrication and oil analysis are seen as being important pillars of a well-rounded maintenance strategy.

What do you see as some of the more important trends taking place in the lubrication field?: The most important trend that I see is the understanding and teaching of holistic lubrication programs. It is not enough to do lube procurement, storage, application, analysis or disposal correctly by itself. These and other actions must all be planned and executed with purpose as part of the maintenance strategy to gain the most possible benefit for the plant.

"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

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