Atkinson Looks to Pass on Lubrication Knowledge Before Retirement

Name: Bob Atkinson

Age: 60

Job Title: Specialist Mechanic

Company: Pierce County Planning and Public Works

Location: University Place, Washington

Length of Service: 18 years

For the past 18 years, Bob Atkinson has worked at the Chambers Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant in Pierce County, Washington, including 1½ years as a maintenance technician and 16½ years as a maintenance specialist. Most of his training has been through on-the-job experience, and he is not shy about asking questions. Always curious to figure things out, Atkinson has an innate ability to look outside the box to make systems work better and save costs. Next spring, he plans to retire and focus on his hobbies, including rebuilding and racing old cars. Until then, Atkinson will be busy passing on his knowledge to younger team members.

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

A: I arrive at 7 a.m., checking on any issues from the night before, completing special projects and working on preventive maintenance schedules with the younger mechanics.

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

A: We have equipment that ranges from a $1 million centrifuge to small exhaust fans and pumps, as well as high-end blowers and old and brand-new equipment that all require maintenance and repair.

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

A: We have a lot of equipment in and around water, so synthetic oils and greases have worked best for our situation. Having a good lubricant and bearing supplier has helped to make things run smoother in specific applications.

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

A: I was recently involved in a $350 million plant expansion project where I reviewed plans and submittals, worked with contractors to help them understand the process and guided them to complete their job without affecting our day-to-day operation. There have also been times when I have assisted in re-engineering systems to enable them to perform better based on their original design.

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

A: Our computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is only as good as the information that our staff contributes to it. You need to know your equipment, how much it is used and how much lubrication or maintenance it needs.

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

A: Some of the trends I see are quicker, more efficient returns, more specific data and a better track record in equipment maintenance.

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

A: Our company has put more emphasis on lubrication to help save costs and downtime and to obtain more years of use with our equipment following a criticality model based on each piece of equipment or process.

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