Achieving 35 Years of Success through Specialty Products Extending the Life of Lubricants

Written by Jessica Ferlaino

Des-Case provides an array of solutions that protect the health and cleanliness of lubricants from contaminants in many applications including gearboxes, hydraulic reservoirs, pumps, and turbines. Its products protect and clean the lubricant throughout its entire lifecycle – from storage and handling, to modifying and sealing equipment and condition monitoring while in use.
The Des-Case service team provides training and assists maintenance professionals in creating and maintaining a lubrication program.

Des-Case was formed to provide innovative solutions to extend the longevity of lubricants, and it has grown to become an international company that has seen great success. In 1983, an engineer from a large oil company contacted Jim Waller, who owned a filtration distribution company at the time. The engineer explained that he was having problems with water getting into the lubricants he was selling. Jim came up with a unique product – the original desiccant breather – to take care of the issue and took advantage of the opportunity to put it into production.

In lubricants, moisture is a contaminant, so a desiccant breather dries the air, removing the unwanted humidity through a filter containing a desiccant (drying agent) as the air enters the system. The original desiccant breather invented by Jim Waller continues to be an important product group within Des-Case’s portfolio and still generates the most revenue.

Des-Case has a competitive advantage in the market by being a solutions-based company. It breaks the product lines down into four categories: consumables, durables, visual oil analysis, and services. The consumable products, such as desiccant breathers and filter elements, are designed to be used then either recycled or discarded. The durable products are filtration systems; visual oil analysis products allow end-use customers to discern certain qualities of the lubricant as it is being used. The services branch of Des-Case assists customers in achieving precision lubrication best practices.

Headquartered at its manufacturing facility in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, Des-Case employs approximately 110 people. In the last ten years, the rapidly-growing company has established locations in France, Spain, and The Netherlands.

“We try to anchor to our four core values which are integrity, service, innovation, and drive,” says Brian Gleason, president and chief executive officer of Des-Case. “We have a culture of opportunity, where we provide a lot of good opportunity to our people that come in and learn and grow and ultimately help customers solve their complex problems in the field.” Des-Case is known for its transparency and will discuss any aspect of the business – with the exception of three topics: payroll, personnel issues, and new product development – with any employee.

Des-Case is particularly pleased about its rating on The Tennessean newspaper’s top workplaces list for the past four years. The ratings are determined via a partnership between the newspaper and employee survey firm WorkplaceDynamics. The results of the award come from a survey filled out anonymously by employees. “We invite candor from our colleagues, and we get it. The colleagues who have been here for a number of years know how seriously we take their feedback and the changes in the organization that get made as a result of it. I think that does nothing but perpetuate the culture of the business and makes it better,” says Gleason.

Des-Case goes to market through its channel partners such as Waller Sales and Flow Dynamics. Its main customers are based in a variety of industries including conventional and alternative power generation, pulp and paper, forestry products, mining, and food and beverage.

Des-Case is particularly appreciative of Waller Sales as this was its original distribution partner, and the two companies have developed a close relationship over thirty-five years of doing business together. “I can tell you as a distributor of Des-Case Corporation, it is the best door opening product we carry, and it is easy to sell because everyone needs it,” says Judy Baker, president and owner of Waller Sales Corporation.

While growing, Des-Case has also acquired six companies in the last seven years. With a continued focus on providing the most complete package of precision lubrication solutions to its customers, Des-Case plans to continue its strategy of growing, both organically and through more acquisitions.

Throughout the complex process of acquiring so many companies in such a short period, Des-Case has maintained the culture and values upon which the company was founded. “We’re very proud of how our folks have really come together through all of our acquisitions… and maintained this culture of innovation with a service-oriented mindset throughout it, and it’s been very pleasing to watch,” says Gleason.

Des-Case has implemented IsoLogic™, a patent-pending sensor technology, to its trusted VentGuard™ breathers. The sensors collect valuable data available for the customer, providing insights for maintenance and reliability staff to proactively manage their equipment. The Industrial Internet of Things will soon become essential to large operations that lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in one day of downtime.

Indeed, many industries are moving toward the internet of things, and the lubrication industry is no exception. The ability to monitor the condition of oil and measure the health of a lubricant with the use of technology is beneficial for making it last. “We’re really focused on providing solutions, and part of that is providing diagnostic data to the customer, and what we did is we took our core offering that the company was founded on, the desiccant breather, and we added sensor technology to it,” says Stephanie Schaffer, Vice President of Marketing and Strategy at Des-Case.

Des-Case provides products that have a sustainable impact on the environment by extending the life of a lubricant by a factor of four to six. “It’s a very powerful message of sustainability when we go in and partner with these Fortune 100 companies in the market to implement best practices for precision lubrication,” says Gleason.

Two primary contaminants shorten the life of a lubricant: dirt and water. Particulate contamination, once inside an operating system, will accelerate the generation of new contaminants due to machine wear. These contaminants damage critical components and act as a catalyst for oxidation, further degrading the condition of lubricants. It is sometimes difficult to imagine, but the dirt and water we are most concerned with we cannot see. The particles that do the most damage are in the 2 to 5 micron range. This is the range of clearance in many sensitive components including servo valves, bearings and the pitch line of gear teeth. To put that in perspective, a human hair averages 60 microns.

The secondary culprit is water contamination. Water mixes with the oil in the circulating pump or working zone of the equipment and results in:
•Reduced lubricating ability
•Blocked filters
•Sludge formation
•Increased oxidation of the oil
•Equipment failures

Water also remains on the inside of the reservoir and causes corrosion. This corrosion contaminates the oil with abrasive oxides (rust and others) and speeds up the wear process in the equipment.

If a lubricant is kept clean and dry, its serviceable life can be multiplied by as much as four times, and the life of the equipment it is used in can also be extended. “Seventy-five percent of shortening the life of a piece of equipment is caused by a contamination,” says Gleason.

“What we do is make sure to keep that lubricants are clean and dry from the time it arrives at the facility until its useful life is over,” says Gleason. This is done with best practices of storage, handling, and transfer to ensure that the lubricant does not come into contact with ambient air. Des-Case protects lubricants with products such as breathers to keep contaminants out, and it is capable of cleaning lubricants through a remediation process that involves a filtration system similar to dialysis.

There are essential safety risks to consider with lubrication systems since work environments are hazardous, and most dangers are related directly to equipment performance. Slipping, chemical exposure, machinery interaction, and fire are common safety issues that can be avoided through better lubrication practices.

There is oil mist in the air of every manufacturing facility, but the proper lubrication system will minimize or eliminate this, making the air better for employees to breathe and leaving fewer slip hazards without the coating of oil that lands on walkway surfaces and equipment. Des-Case provides products and solutions that make hazardous workplaces safer for employees.



From Here to There

Read Our Current Issue


Peace of Mind

March 2024

Making the Smart Grid Smarter

February 2024

Inclusive Workplaces

December 2023

More Past Editions