Eli Lilly Spreads Award-winning Lubrication Program Around the World

Suzy Hitchcock, ICML

Since winning the 2008 John R. Battle award for excellence in machinery lubrication, Eli Lilly and Co. has continued to develop its lubrication program not only in the United States but around the world. The company operates more than 20 manufacturing sites internationally, with each having its own goals, objectives, culture, challenges and reliability journey.

In 2009, Rendela Wenzel took the reins of Eli Lilly’s corporate lubrication technical team. She has continued to grow the lubrication program and has recently taken on a new role to further drive reliability. As the new global process owner for reliability, Wenzel is responsible for all of Lilly’s policies and direction for reliability and predictive maintenance (PdM).

One of Eli Lilly’s world-class lube rooms

“I have been in this role for six months, and I am making some excellent progress with sites all over the world,” Wenzel says. “Reliability in the past few years has taken on a life of its own at Eli Lilly. This is due in large part to winning the John R. Battle award and the need to bring areas up to speed in their efforts to control costs and produce more than ever before.”

This year, Wenzel created a lubrication assessment and an end-user guide to assess each manufacturing site’s overall lubrication program performance. The assessment covers seven different sections - storage, handling/dispensing, safety, training, lubrication PMs, oil analysis and recycling - with multiple questions in each section. The scores for all of the sections are totaled to produce an overall score for each site. The sites are responsible for identifying deficiencies in their programs and providing Wenzel with an action plan. The plan must then be implemented by the end of 2015. Each site also has a reliability champion who is the point of contact for the PdM programs.

When reliability and predictive maintenance in general were not improving as quickly as desired, Eli Lilly’s management realized that some areas were better than others in the reliability space and as a result started to integrate these improvements into their business plans. Wenzel explains that Lilly’s vice president of corporate engineering has become a major supporter of reliability and has made this a priority for the overall corporate agenda.

“I am also writing a business case to increase our overall support in the PdM space to include our in-house oil sampling, vibration and thermography,” Wenzel said. “We are increasing the services in this group to not only do an overall screen for oil samples but to provide analytical ferrography expertise as well as post-mortem analysis in a mini-lab that we have created. We have excellent craftsmen who own and support these technologies and want to help provide solid analysis and results.”

According to Wenzel, there is still a ways to go in implementing these programs and driving change, but many of the sites have already begun their journey toward excellence.

“I am truly blessed to be in this global reliability program role and help drive reliability and lubrication globally,” she said. “It’s time to take this program to the next level, and I’m determined to make it happen.”

Wenzel’s group has developed two courses on basic and advanced lubrication fundamentals. These courses cover proper oil sampling and analysis practices as well as program design and management. Her team has trained more than 900 engineers, craftsmen, supervisors and technicians in these techniques. She is now expanding the program to include webinars for employees outside the United States.

With all the changes that have occurred since winning the Battle award, Wenzel says that this has been a very exciting time at Eli Lilly. She also hopes to apply for the Augustus H. Gill award very soon.

To learn more about how your organization can win one of the recognition of excellence awards from the International Council for Machinery Lubrication (ICML), visit www.lubecouncil.org. The awards are open to end-user companies worldwide, independent of any involvement with ICML. To submit a nomination, email your plant information to info@lubecouncil.org.

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