Round Table With Lube-Tech Product Specialists

The Lube-Tech Round Table is a new feature for the Viscosity Index, designed to provide you with insights into how Lube-Tech helps customers overcome challenges and solve problems they face in their day-to-day operations. 

To kick off our Round Table Discussion series, the Viscosity Index sat down with Lube-Tech Product Specialists Rich Limpert (Minnesota), Mike Nelson (Wisconsin) and Zach Setterberg (Iowa).

The Round Table moderator is J.T. Bernier, Digital Marketing Manager at Lube-Tech & Partners.

J.T.:  Guys, we work with a ton of customers who encounter challenges every day, and being out in the field, it’s your job to solve their problems. What’s been the toughest challenge you’ve faced as a Product Specialist?

Zach Setterburg: I’ll start with a tough one I had recently. We had a customer in Perry, Iowa, who called me in because they’d been experiencing regular gasket and seal material failure in their mold handling machines. Normally a pretty straightforward deal, but in this case, they were using glycol fire-resistant hydraulic fluids.

J.T.:  Remember, I work in Marketing, can you explain their issue in layman’s terms?   

Zach Setterburg: Sure, put simply, fire-resistant fluids can be unique formulations using glycol, animal fats or water in their formulations, so the challenge was determining who was the culprit, the fluid or the machine. We knew the fluid, so my suspicion was it was something with the gaskets and seals. We were given the opportunity to trace the source of their gaskets and found there was definitely an incompatibility issue going on. Our lab got involved and we found out through research that the urethane material being used in some of them was indeed incompatible with glycol.

J.T.:  What was the solution? Just swap fluids?

Zach Setterburg: Yes and no. It’s not that simple with fire-resistant hydraulics. Usually there is a pretty comprehensive flushing and changeover process because with these types of fluids you want to insure you have a pure fluid in the system. In the end, we worked with the customer extensively, providing detailed instructions on how to properly flush and convert the entire system to polyol-ester fire-resistant hydraulic fluid. 

Mike Nelson: To that point, educating the customer is a huge part of getting them the proper fluid. I had an account where their shop was using equipment made by several different manufacturers and they assumed they needed a hydraulic oil specific to each machine. After getting manufacturer specs I demonstrated to my contact that Mobilfluid 424 hydraulic would work in all their machines and would consolidate their inventory. They had never considered this before and were juggling a bunch of different fluids because that’s what they thought they needed to do.

Rich Limpert: I agree with that. The hardest challenge I’ve faced as a Product Specialist has been breaking through on large companies that have been running certain fluids for a very long period on difficult operations. They don’t want to change because it’s what they know or what the manufacturer has told them to run, so it takes some convincing to get them to choose a better fluid.

Mike Nelson: Absolutely. Most times putting together a comparison and educating the customer on the benefits of a premium product vs. a standard or manufacturer recommended fluid can at least get them to do a test. Then they usually see the benefits and understand that the fluid may cost more up front, but they get this money back from the benefits it brings. In this case the oil worked in all their equipment, eliminating the chance of someone using the wrong fluid and cutting down inventory 66-percent. Money saved, crisis avoided.

J.T.: So it sounds like you’re fighting a “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” mentality most of the time. What kind of push back do you see with this? Is it price or what?

Rich Limpert: In my case, it was performance. The customer was looking for a product to allow them to test the limits of their machine’s feeds and speeds on high-alloy steel product manufacturing, while at the same time limiting the amount of smoke created due to the severity of the cut they are performing. Like I said, they were stuck on one fluid until I convinced them to do some testing.

Mike Nelson: For my customer, it was all about price. The better fluid was more than what they were paying, but I was able to show them there was a trade-off between cost and performance they were overlooking.

J.T: Lots of good examples of challenges and problem solving here. What were the results?

Zach Setterburg: In my case, we were able to save the customer countless man hours and frustrations. They were taking machines apart to replace gaskets and seals, costing them money and of course it was completely unnecessary. They just needed the proper fluid, which we got them and it’s performing flawlessly. Priceless!

Rich Limpert: Spot on Zach, in my case, we got them a product that performed as we predicted and reduced the residual smoke created from the heavy cuts in this application. We increased their tool life dramatically which visibly benefited the output product’s surface finish and chip production.

J.T.:  Thanks for all your input guys, I look forward to our next conversation!