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Matt Fitzgerald has spent the last several months helping Puris Foods prepare for operations by designing and implementing a comprehensive reliability program. Though new to the reliability world, he has already completed trainings to ensure the operational success of his plant which will begin production this summer.
Name: Matt Fitzgerald
Job Title: Reliability Engineer Company: Puris Foods
Location: Dawson, MN
Length of Service: 7 months
Q: How long have you worked for your company and which positions have you held?
A: I just joined my company in November of 2020, so I’ve only been here for a few months. I came on as a reliability engineer.
Q: When did you get your start in machinery lubrication and how did it happen?
A: We were a brand-new plant, just starting the hiring process, and I was one of the first 25 people here. We had to get rolling with construction, rotating the assets and determining how much lubrication was needed initially. There wasn’t anyone else to have eyes on that stuff yet, so that’s how I got started. It was then suggested that I get certified in it, so that’s when my training began.
Q: What types of training have you taken to get to your current position?
A: I’ve taken Noria’s Machinery Lubrication I class in addition to reading a lot of the content on the Reliable Plant and Machinery Lubrication websites. I also completed training on the vibration side before getting into lubrication.
Q: What professional certifications have you attained?
A: VCAT-II and MLA I
Q: Are you planning to obtain additional training or achieve higher certifications?
A: Yeah, as the reliability engineer, the idea is to get a broad range of knowledge, and we plan to do that through certifications. So now that I have the vibration side and the lubrication side, I’ll probably work on the thermography and ultrasound side. And then I’m going to come back for seconds and get my VCAT-III and MLA II.
Q: What’s a normal work day like for you?
A: I would say it’s a little abnormal right now since we’re still prepping to be in production. So, normally most of my day would be root cause analysis and making sure we have full rationale behind why certain failures happen, but right now a lot of it is prepping the lubrication routes and making sure we have all the best practices.
We’re building a world-class reliability and maintenance program. I am doing the operational context part where we have to understand what makes a piece of machinery reliable. So, I go through all the manuals to understand how a piece of equipment operates and what a functional failure looks like for each of the critical pieces of machinery.
Q: What have been some of the biggest project successes in which you’ve played a part?
A: One would be the preventative maintenance plan in motion right now. Getting with the contractors and making sure we are turning the shafts on the rotating assets so the bearings are alright. I also help with determining what needs to be filled with lubricant and ordering lubrication so we don’t have rusted parts.
Q: How does your company view machinery lubrication in terms of overall business strategy?
A: Along with all the other predictive technologies, we weigh out what benefits lubrication strategies are going to have versus another technology and how many resources we have, like time and people. Then we apply them accordingly. We put a lot of resources toward doing things right.
Q: What do you see as some of the more important trends taking place in the lubrication and oil analysis field?
A: Motors were neglected for a long time. You hear a lot of horror stories of grease getting pumped in as a preventative route, and it results in failure. We are excited to use our ultrasound unit to regrease our motors. With this technology, you know exactly when to stop lubricating the motor bearings.