ILMA Launches Metalworking Fluid Symposium


Noting that it will soon be a decade since the last comparable event, the Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Association announced at its annual meeting last month that it will take the lead in sponsoring a multi-day symposium on metalworking fluid health, safety and environmental issues, tentatively targeted for mid-2008 in the Detroit area.

While emphasizing that plans for the symposium are still preliminary, several members of the ILMA planning committee fleshed out their vision for Lube Report. The idea for the symposium came from the Alexandria, Va. based trade groups Safety, Health, Environmental and Regulatory Affairs Committee, noted Eugene White of Milacron Marketing. Ike Tripp [of Etna Products] planted the seed, and it started germinating. Our goal is to bring the stakeholders together, so the industry can learn the latest science and discuss key issues.

We need a forum to get the players together to review the latest information from the scientists, and to provide an opportunity for planning what to do next to improve health and safety in the metalworking fluid environment, said John K. Howell of D.A. Stuart Co.

We want to present the most recent studies, and how to apply them, agreed Carol Poole of Quaker Chemical. We all want safe work places for our customers employees and our own. The mist issue is so complicated – there may be 15 or more factors affecting generation of mist alone, such as pressure, temperature, speeds, feeds … What new knowledge is there to help reduce mists? And what about mycobacteria, and new equipment, and raw materials?

Poole continued, We want more planning for end users and fluid suppliers to come out of the symposium. The academic information needs to have real-world applications. Focus groups, for example, could help.

The old concept of one number to provide a line between safe and unsafe [metalworking fluid mist] levels has been replaced, noted Howell (who, at the last metalworking fluid symposium, famously told the UAWs Frank Mirer, Its not the mist, stupid. Its something else.)

How to manage fluids in the field to maintain health and safety and control costs is the key, Howell said. Its a multidimensional issue. Howell emphasized ILMAs commitment to action-planning as a symposium goal.

While formal invitations have not yet been extended to possible cosponsors and participants, ILMA – whose members manufacture 75 percent of the metalworking fluids sold in the United States – intends that the symposium will be international and inclusive. End-users, suppliers, formulators, government, academics, organized labor and others will be invited.

ILMAs first step is to bring partners into the planning process. Over the coming months the steering committee will be formalized, noted Etnas Ike Tripp. We will meet with other interested organizations to decide how to proceed, and we hope that formal invitations can go out by year-end to prospective partners, to meet a target symposium date of mid-2008.

The Detroit, Michigan, area has been proposed for the symposium, to allow local union representatives at U.S. auto plants, with limited travel budgets, to participate.

The ILMA board is excited to participate in something so far-sighted, noted Cathy Novak of Eastern Oil, a board member. ILMA wants to be inclusive, and we want to put the good science forward. In the past we have responded to regulations and issues. We need to sit in the drivers seat, not be the trailer.

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