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More than a year after undertaking an ethics initiative for lubricant manufacturers, the Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Association has revised its Code of Ethics and moved to the next step: creation of an inter-industry task force to develop a product testing program to improve the quality level of lubricants in the North American marketplace.

The purpose of the industry task force is to come together and develop methods to raise the bar in the industry, to capitalize on the talents of all the industry groups and to develop a shared work plan to accomplish this raising of the bar, said Jim Taglia of Nor-Lakes Services Midwest, president of the Alexandria, Va. based association.

Earlier this month ILMA invited the American Petroleum Institute in Washington, D.C., the trade association representing major oil companies, and the additive industrys principal trade group, the American Chemistry Council in Arlington, Va., to participate on the task force.

ACCs Petroleum Additives Panel, chaired by Andy Tugendhat of Chevron Oronite, announced May 24 that it will provide technical support to the ILMA-API inter-trade association task force to explore development of a quality check program for the lubricants industry. ACC will provide two liaison representatives to the task force to serve in a technical advisory capacity.

On May 10, APIs Lubricants Committee accepted membership on the task force, and has also appointed two representatives. Staff of each trade association will provide technical and administrative support.

The first meeting will be held in July, and ILMA states that the group will discuss the development of policy and procedures for the task force, plus certainly whether future meetings should be open to the public.

API Buys In

APIs Lubricants Committee considered ILMAs request to participate in the inter-industry task force at its regularly scheduled spring meeting in Houston May 10. Larry Kuntschik, ILMAs consultant, presented to the meeting a multifaceted ethics initiative for policing the lubricants industry, which ILMA had been working toward for some time.

Kuntschik noted that the first task, within ILMA, was to adopt and implement an ethics initiative. The second was to create an inter-industry task force comprised of two representatives each from ILMA, API and ACC to investigate development of a process to improve the quality level of lubricants.

Kuntschiks presentation cited three objectives and an action program for the overall ILMA ethics initiative. ILMAs objectives are:

1) Inform and educate ILMA members as to minimum standards and good operating practice.

2) Assure products and services offered to customers meet indicated industry performance specifications.

3) Reduce and eliminate marketing of substandard products by ILMA members.

ILMAs proposed action to protect consumers is to implement a program to monitor crankcase and other lubricants marketed by ILMA members. The proposed enforcement mechanism is to use APIs Aftermarket Audit Program (AMAP). Kuntschik noted that staff members of both trade associations had met and agreed that it is workable, with the details to be worked out.

Kuntschik requested that API support and approve continued discussions with ILMA on the use of the AMAP system for collection and testing of ILMA samples and the formation of, and active participation in, an inter-industry task force.

Some key objectives for the task force could include, first, a determination that the program makes sense for the industry and validate widespread support, and second, identify key elements of the program and estimate resource requirements, he said.

API Concerns

Kuntschik noted that the enforcement proposal was to cover all types of lubricant products in the market – not just API-licensed products, but also, for example, automatic transmission fluids, hydraulic oils and unlicensed products such as SA/SB oils.

Lubricants Committee Vice Chairman Jim Newsom, Shell Oil Products (US), cautioned that the idea of policing all lubricants is a huge undertaking. How could, for example, hydraulic oils be monitored?

BP Lubricants USAs Barbara Dennis stated bluntly, Why should we police the ATF system? It is the responsibility of the auto companies to police their own licensing systems.

Finally, Marathon Ashland Petroleums Mark Matson candidly put the issue into sharp context for his fellow Lubricants Committee members: Concerns have been expressed in this group for a long time regarding ILMA companies. Now ILMA has asked for our participation, and we should support them in this initiative, which may help us all.

Kuntschik pointed out, ILMA believes that there are only a few problem companies, and it will be taking action on its own when these companies are identified. APIs Legal Representative Doug Morris acknowledged, There are legal issues that will have to be addressed.

ILMAs task force proposal received, overall, cautious support, and its request for APIs active participation in the task force was approved by 11 members while two abstained. Pinnacle Oils Harji Gill and Valvolines Thom Smith volunteered to serve as APIs representatives.

The use of the AMAP system for collection and testing of ILMA samples was left for future consideration after initial task force results are seen.

ACCs Advisory Role

ACCs Doug Anderson, staff manager for the Petroleum Additives Panel, reinforced Chairman Tugendhats announcement by noting, We see this initiative as a request for technical assistance from ILMA as it develops the monitoring and enforcement program for its Code of Ethics.

Panel Vice Chair Rob Shama of Afton Chemical added, Member companies have excellent formulation expertise for todays complex lubricant formulations.

Tugendhat pointed out, We are pleased to be able to serve in a technical advisory role to the task group leading this exploratory project. [The Panels] commitment to continuous improvement is demonstrated through our development of the Product Approval Code of Practice for engine oil testing. The notion of building on APIs successful Aftermarket Audit Program, AMAP, is an innovative concept worth further examination.

Miles to Go

ILMAs good intentions notwithstanding, its a shame that it did not insist upfront that task force meetings should be open. Instead it turned that decision over to the task force.

Thats troubling, given APIs record of secretiveness. Over the past dozen years, API has progressively closed vital portions of its Lubricants Committee meetings, and thrown a cloak over its stewardship of more than $20 million in fees collected from licensees. Its Aftermarket Audit Program, upon which ILMAs proposed quality program rests, has never had an independent audit. Is AMAP a Potemkin Village? Outside of API staff, no one knows.

Certainly, all participants should be commended for embarking in good faith on this venture. Getting it right is vital – and it cannot succeed without candor. Then it can tackle some other ethics issues. I can suggest a handful, to start:

Publicize the identities of oil producers who are AMAP serial offenders and API licensee cancellations.

Fight the pandemic of worthless aftermarket lube additives, often marketed by the same companies that boast their engine oil is all a driver needs to buy.

Confront OEMs who condition their equipment warranties on the use of their own genuine oils, or make product approvals so costly that only a few formulators can afford them, thereby driving up costs for consumers.

Clean up the nationwide infection of substandard and obsolete engine oils – 20-plus percent of the market in all, most noxious among them being SA/SB oils that have no additives.

End the environmental and resource-consuming blight known as the 3,000-mile drain interval, which some oil companies as well as the entire quick-lube sector continue to promote.

And finally, how about adding some representation or consultative participation on the task force by OEMs?

Correction: In Mays column (SAPS and Emissions: Hurdles Without End), the phosphorus limit for PC-10 heavy-duty diesel engine oils was incorrect on page 10. The proposed categorys phosphorus limit is currently 0.12 per-cent max, not 0.10 percent.

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