Lubrication Improvements Become Gold Mine for Kinross' Rupf

Noria Corporation

Name: Mario Guilherme Rupf

Age: 29

Job Title: Mechanical Engineer

Company: Kinross Gold Corp.

Location: Minas Gerais, Brazil

Length of Service: 3 years

In 2013, Mario Rupf began working as a mechanical engineer at Kinross Gold’s Paracatu mine in Minas Gerais, Brazil. During his first year, Kinross experienced production losses of more than $2 million due to 79 lubrication failure events. These failures were determined to be caused by incorrect drum storage, improper filtration, oil contamination and pump wear. Rupf and his team soon implemented an improvement plan, which included using lubricant identification labels, creating new points for oil sample collection, installing breathers and quick couplers, redesigning filter elements, and developing new routes for inspection and oil analysis. The results have been impressive. By 2015, production losses had been reduced to just seven lubrication failures, while revenue increased by more than $2.8 million. Reliability has also increased by nearly 50 percent. Rupf believes one of the biggest changes has been in the Kinross culture, where the relevance of lubrication is now recognized and employee morale has greatly improved.

Q: What types of training have you taken to get to your current position?

A: I have had training in lubrication, reliability, vibration and planning. 

Q: What professional certifications have you attained?

A: I am certified as a Level I Machine Lubrication Technician (MLT I) and a Level I Machine Lubricant Analyst (MLA I) by the International Council for Machinery Lubrication (ICML).

Q: Are you planning to obtain additional training or achieve higher certifications?

A: Yes. I need more vibration training to better understand machine behavior and to relate it to lubrication. 

Q: What’s a normal work day like for you?

A: A normal work day is a day without corrective maintenance, seeking improvement in routes and lubrication systems, providing training, working with spare parts and supporting the demands of the engineers, mechanics and lube guys.

Q: What is the range of equipment you help service through lubrication/​oil analysis tasks?

A: We have a wide variety of equipment, including crushers, gearboxes, mills, hydraulic motors, electric motors, conveyors, etc.

Q: On what lubrication-related projects are you currently working?

A: I am currently working on revising lubrication routes, equipment shielding, ball bearing adjustments and increasing equipment reliability at the plant.

Q: What have been some of the biggest project successes in which you’ve played a part?

A: The biggest success was controlling contamination of the mill’s lubrication system. We had excellent results, including a reduction in losses, and have increased system reliability more than 12 times.

Q: How does your company view machinery lubrication in terms of importance and overall business strategy?

A: Kinross considers lubrication as one of the most important pillars of maintenance. Once we reduced failures, we increased the performance and availability of the company’s assets. Also, we optimized human resources for carrying out these activities, reducing the risk of accidents and increasing employee satisfaction.

Q: What do you see as some of the more important trends taking place in the lubrication and oil analysis field?

A: I see a trend toward the use of oil analysis and lubrication concepts as proactive techniques with predictive maintenance.

Q: What has made your company decide to put more emphasis on machinery lubrication?

A: Kinross always seeks continuous improvement of its processes, so the company decided to invest in the improvement of lubrication techniques to increase plant availability in the pursuit of increased production.

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