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Michael Anderson | TLT President's Report December 2017

STLE establishes connections and educates maintenance and lubrication engineers in Latin America.

Representing STLE, Mike Anderson has discussed the principles of tribology, lubrication engineering and testing at industry meetings around the world, including this maintenance conference in Guatemala.

WITH THE EVER-INCREASING DESIRE TO BE A GLOBAL ORGANIZATION, STLE continues looking outside the borders of the U.S. to attract members, establish local sections and educate technical people active in tribology, maintenance and lubrication.

Last month’s President’s Report column took us to Beijing, China, for participation in the World Tribology Congress (WTC) and the 18th International Chinese Lubricant and Technology Exhibition, and to Kunming, China, for the Chinese Lubricant and Technology Forum. My column this month reports on our activities to promote STLE in Latin America, specifically Central America. I, along with STLE digital marketing manager Bruce Murgueitio, visited Panama in July and Guatemala in September for their Maintenance and Lubrication Conferences. I am currently in route for a similar conference in El Salvador. STLE-member Luis Urrutia of Total Lubricants has been active in the promotion of equipment and plant maintenance, lubrication and industrial improvements to the local industries. There is a thirst for knowledge by the local community to learn more about ways to improve the life of equipment in their organizations. And, of course, tribology plays an important role in this.

Each of the conference locations appeals to technical people, management and students from local universities. Around 125 attended the meeting in Panama where Bruce spoke on STLE and I on fundamentals of tribology. Each conference also had about eight commercial booths sponsored by lubricant blenders and distributors, equipment manufacturers and suppliers of filtration equipment. The seminars focused on education to improve maintenance and reliability of equipment and operations for the companies located in Central America. Next year additional countries will be added to these seminars, including Colombia, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Honduras. A total of six will take place in 2018.

In Panama the biggest industry is the well-known Panama Canal, originally opened in 1914. It provides a means to conveniently move ocean-going watercraft from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and vice versa by means of a passage and series of locks through Gatun Lake. Prior to the canal these vessels had to travel around the southern tip of South America, known as the Strait of Magellan, adding about 5,000 additional miles to the voyage and many days. The canal made delivering supplies from Europe to the west coast of the Americas much easier, timely and safer. Abdiel Perez, executive manager for Locks Maintenance and Installation for the Panama Canal Authority, gave an overview of the operations of the canal and spoke about the complex nature of their maintenance program and their successes in reducing cost and improving operations. The Panama Canal is something that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Guatemala hosted its fifth conference on maintenance and reliability with a two-day educational and informational seminar. I was the first speaker and initially spoke about STLE, followed by a presentation of the principles of tribology and lubrication engineering and testing. The seminar continued in two separate sections, one on industrial applications and the other on automotive applications. This conference has grown steadily and this year boasted more than 300 attendees with more than 100 students. The highlight of this conference was the presentation of a beautiful plaque given by professor Roberto Guzmán Ortíz, director of the School of Mechanical Engineering at the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala. This plaque acknowledges that in the last five years, this conference in Guatemala has provided more than 300 scholarships to students from the university and thanks STLE for its support. The award is on display at STLE headquarters. At the end of the second day, there was a networking session to close out the conference complete with karaoke and dancing.

The presentation of the plaque with Roberto Guzmán Ortíz, Luis Urrutia and Michael Anderson. The plaque acknowledges that in the last five years, this conference in Guatemala has provided more than 300 scholarships to students from the university and thanks STLE for its support.

The third conference this year will be in San Salvador, El Salvador, and is similar to the ones in Panama and Guatemala. Almost 100 people are expected to attend with 30 of these being students and eight being professors. I will give both a talk on STLE and a tutorial on tribology and lubrication fundamentals.

In addition to the Central America region, there is growing interest in Mexico to establish local sections. Currently there is one established student section at the University of Monterrey under the direction of Dr. Laura Peña-Parás and Dr. Demófilo Maldonado. This university offers a concentration in tribology and highlights the year with its annual Semana de Tribología, which translates to Tribology Week. More on this in a future column.

While interest exists throughout the world, Mexico is our closest neighbor to the south, and Central America is just south of Mexico. Logistically, it should be easy for STLE to support growth in these locations. STLE has offered its Certified Lubrication Specialist™ exam in Spanish in the past and is looking at updating and improving the exam in Spanish and perhaps adding other languages.

With more than 100 student volunteers at the WTC and 300 scholarship recipients over five years in Guatemala, we can look forward to a growing number of future tribologists. And as I continually state: Tribology: It’s everywhere!

Mike Anderson is Area Manager Asia Pacific/Latin America for Falex Corp. in Sugar Grove, Ill. You can reach him at manderson@falex.com.