Food Grade Lubricants: Bama Foods

The Tulsa, Oklahoma-based food manufacturing company known as Bama Foods has undergone a bit of a radical transformation when it comes to their uses of lubrication in their food business. Bama Foods, which manufactures pies, biscuits and dough products for direct sales to consumers, as well as ingredients for other products, has three operations in Bama Foods Ltd., Bama Frozen Dough, and Bama Pie. Like most industries – even edible, food-based ones – Bama relies on lubrication for many of its operations. Their use of a total productive maintenance (TPM) initiative as spearheaded by predictive maintenance technician (PMT) Randell Powers has helped the company make several smart changes and improvements that has contributed to improved productivity, machine reliability, and quality – the very goals Bama had when they launched the TPM to begin with.

As the article on Machinery explains on the total productive maintenance initiative undertaken by Bama Foods, “Select operators are part of the TPM program, which includes training on lubrication and inspection methods for their respective production centers. Roughly 100 employees are involved in TPM activities, which greatly expand the opportunities to inspect the assets during daily activities.

Randell Powers was hired as a predictive maintenance technician (PMT) approximately three years ago. A major initiative occurred at Bama Foods following the company’s visit to the Lubrication Excellence 2003 conference class on oil room design and improvement. With the support of a local oil supplier, Bama PMTs began to evaluate lubricants for the sake of product consolidation and more thorough compliance to USF/USDA-designated food-grade use requirements at the site.”

The results were powerful and inspiring for the company. Changes and updates included:

  • Reducing Bama’s Lubrication Inventory. The company went from using 15 different lubricants to using only 9 – both oil and grease. Settling on just 3 greases of the 9 types left after the initiative helped workers to simplify grease transaction processes, reduce contamination of the greases, and improve the quality of their relubrication processes. Dedicated grease guns were assigned to each of the types of grease, with information on the output per gun stroke noted. All lubricants were tagged with a plant-designated color, shape and number system in order to set them apart and avoid confusion.
  • Remodeling the Lube Room. Not stopping there, a new lube room was created that could handle the volume of storage needed for the various grease guns, greases and oils that Bama uses. Mr. Powers and an assistant began to upgrade handling methods – smartly replacing flexible galvanized funnels, open cans, and the old standard coffee can-type containers with closed-top Oil Safe containers made specifically for petroleum products. The Bama team also utilized filters for drum vents, upgraded existing grease guns, disposed of grease lubricants that did were not one of the nine types selected, and started to label all grease guns by product type to avoid confusion and cross-contamination.

As the article on Bama concludes, “The results that Bama Foods achieved are a product of a good strategic plan, clearly defined objectives, management support and persistence on behalf of the technicians and technical specialists that serve as the change agents. The results are tangible and sustainable if the strategies are integrated into the mainstream fabric of mechanic and operator behavior.”

Good work, Bama Foods!

Learn more about Food Grade Lubricants at Stevenson Oil, which also has lubrication equipment, including Alemite grease guns.

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