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Name: Zack Walsh
Job Title: Reliability Services Coordinator Company: Firefly Reliability
Location: Ridgeway, Iowa
Zack Walsh is part of a core group of young industry professionals who began developing Firefly Reliability in the fall of 2019. Firefly Reliability officially launched in early 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and has since been successfully developing data-driven reliability condition monitoring strategies. Zack has worn many hats during his time with Firefly and currently serves as the company’s Reliability Services Coordinator.
Q: When did you get your start in machinery lubrication, and how did it happen?
A: I was actually introduced to the world of machinery lubrication when I was working in the warehouse of an oil marketer as a lubricant delivery driver. While making deliveries, I was often asked product application questions by customers. After showing some aptitude for the product and the industry, I got some certifications under my belt. Since then, I have obtained multiple certifications and work every day to build on my industry experience and knowledge. Combining condition-based monitoring practices, root-cause analysis and technical on-site services really appealed to me as the future of machinery lubrication - all of which led to the creation of Firefly Reliability.
Q: What types of training have you taken to get you to your current position?
A: I have taken multiple classes and courses offered by STLE and ICML, but there are all kinds of training courses available. Even free webinars can be valuable. Growing your knowledge is the key, and you can’t really go wrong if you are focused on that.
Q: What professional certifications have you attained?
A: I am certified by STLE as a Certified Lubricants Specialist and Oil Monitoring Analyst-I. I also have my Confined Space Certification - for those fun but hard-to-access jobs!
Q: Are you planning to obtain additional training or achieve higher certifications? If so, why and which ones?
A: I am currently working on getting certified by the ICML as a Machinery Lubrication Engineer. Once that is complete, I want to earn a Certified Maintenance & Reliability Professional certification from SMRP. I want to earn these certifications because they lend additional knowledge focused on the lubrication reliability industry.
Q: What is a typical workday like for you?
A: The great thing about the reliability industry is that no day is the same. If there were a norm, it would consist of a combination of organizing onsite services, equipment asset assessments and implementing lubrication reliability programs for our customers.
Q: What lubrication-related projects are you currently working on?
A: I am currently working on mitigation of varnish and particulate in a large gas turbine system. As anyone who has dealt with varnish before will tell you, each project is unique, and I anticipate this one will be interesting.
Q: What have been some of the biggest project successes of which you’ve played a part in?
A: All our successes at Firefly are big, but one job we completed last winter stands out: We were awarded a time-sensitive job with a scheduled scope of work that included onsite particle count, oil analysis, oil filtration, varnish mitigation and manual entry/cleaning of a 3,000-gallon reservoir associated with a large aluminum extrusion press. The interesting thing about this job was that the press was a completely custom machine, so there really was no manual to follow. Still, we completed all the objectives and designed a quality lubrication program for the maintenance team moving forward. This job was also completed on a holiday weekend during a blizzard, so I was very proud of our team.
Q: What do you see as some of the more important trends in the lubrication and oil analysis field?
A: I think that there is an interesting trend happening in the machinery lubrication world related to reliability professionals and increasing demands for remote monitoring. I see many more professionals in the industry retiring than I see young professionals willing to take their place and fill that job role. To combat the slimming workforce, and to streamline maintenance operations, companies are pushing to implement IIoT and remote monitoring throughout the industry. While I believe that utilizing remote monitoring to collect data is indeed the future of the reliability industry, I also believe that we need experienced professionals to bring insight to all that data. Data and insight work together - one doesn’t tell the whole story without the other. I believe that the number of professionals in the industry will decrease, but the breadth of expertise needed to be a competent reliability professional will increase.