Announcing the International Council for Machinery Lubrication

Jim Fitch, Noria Corporation Drew Troyer, Noria Corporation
Tags: industrial lubricants

A new non-profit organization called the International Council for Machinery Lubrication (ICML) has been launched to advance causes associated with machinery lubrication in industrial and fleet applications. The purpose of ICML is simple: help lubrication practitioners on a global scale to succeed in their professional careers. ICML will promote the interests of lubrication practitioners in a number of different ways and it will evolve in response to the changing needs of its constituents.

ICML’s Scope of Service
Lubrication and Oil Analysis Standards Development Support
Activities are just getting started at ISO and ASTM to develop used oil analysis standards. There is a clear need for additional standards in the areas of lubricant selection and application, contamination control, etc. ICML will serve as a rallying point for machinery lubrication practitioners to speak with a common voice by supporting the development of lubrication-related standards and guides, including the current efforts at ASTM, ISO and other organizations. With ISO’s expected adoption of QS 9000 in place of the existing ISO 9000 standard, more rigor will be demanded to assure quality control over every aspect of running a plant, mine, mill or construction site, including lubrication functions. ICML plans to play an important role in supporting these activities.

For our industry to continue its development, we must continue to create and disseminate machinery lubrication best practices. ICML will promote the development and transfer of knowledge related to machinery lubrication by funding applied research activities. It is hoped that in the future, ICML may endow professorships for academicians who are interested in devoting themselves to teaching, research and outreach in the machinery lubrication industry. Industry also needs qualified individuals trained in the machinery lubrication machinery lubrication crafts. ICML intends to help resurrect the lubrication curriculum at vocational and technical schools to provide interested individuals with a way to enter the lubrication field. Likewise, to grow and succeed, the lubrication industry must attract bright individuals who are interested in making machinery lubrication their chosen field. It is a goal of ICML to provide scholarship support to these young people.

Competency Assurance and Certification
Certification is the mark of a professional. It helps to ensure that individuals who practice a craft, be it lubricant analysis or medicine, have a defined measure of competency. For the field of machine lubrication, formal certification serves the following three vital purposes:

  • Create a formal framework of knowledge
  • Raise the profile of those working in the field
  • Provide managers with assurance of competency

ICML currently plans to provide certification for the Machine Lubricant Analyst (MLA), Machine Lubrication Technician (MLT) and Laboratory Lubricant Analyst (LLA). ICML intends to have all of its certifications comply with the requirements of the pending ISO/CD 18436 Standard and the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), and be “certified” as valid certifications (see sidebar for more about certification).

Recognition of Excellence
When individuals and organizations accomplish the extraordinary, or perform ordinary tasks extraordinarily well, they contribute to the development of best practices and the advancement of the industry. ICML seeks to recognize these individuals and organizations formally with awards of excellence. The first of these awards is the Augustus H. Gill Award, which recognizes excellence in oil analysis. Other awards are planned for the future to recognize laboratories, new products and develop best practices in the field of machinery lubrication. See “From The Editor” on page 2 for more information about ICML awards.

Organization of ICML
ICML is being organized into committees of industry volunteers who will focus on one or more of the organization’s strategic initiatives, such as certification, recognition of excellence, reviewing applications and awarding scholarships, selecting institutions and recipients for endowed professorships, etc. As new initiatives arise, interested and qualified individuals will rally into the specific committee organized for that initiative.

An important aspect of the organization will be the recruitment of Sustaining Members. A sustaining member is an individual or company that contributes financially to the efforts being carried forth by ICML. All of the important efforts ICML plans to undertake require resources. These sustaining members may contribute to the development of individual projects, or they may be at-large Sustaining Members who are supportive of all of ICML’s efforts, allowing their contributed funds to be utilized where required.

We recognize that practitioners in any field may wish to belong to ICML as individual members to join their compatriots and create a sense of community. A committee will be assigned to the task of investigating the idea of membership. Regardless, ICML’s web-site will serve as a virtual meeting place for the lubrication industry. Participants may get news, express ideas and link to other sites that pertain to machinery lubrication or provide for electronic discussion.

In conclusion, it is time for the machine lubrication industry to have a unifying body that is focused on the needs of people who practice the art and science of machinery lubrication. Our industry needs a vehicle through which to exchange ideas and best practices, promote scholarship, assure the competency of those who work in our field, recognize excellence and accomplishments and invite new participants to join us. The International Council for Machinery Lubrication will proudly serve in that role.

ICML Offers Lubrication Competency Certification
Managers are increasingly looking to third party organizations to verify that their staff members are competent and ready to perform in the roles to which they are assigned. This is largely due to razor-thin margins that demand mistake-free production, and the fact that cutbacks have spread managers thin. Their increased span of control makes it difficult for them to obtain and maintain technical expertise in all the fields over which they are responsible. Third-party certification offers a means by which they may assure that those who report to them are competent. For some managers, it may also serve as the mechanism by which pay levels are determined.

ICML certification is a peer-review process whereby individuals may prove their competency. It is not a licensing process like that for physicians or attorneys that is required by state law to practice in a field. To become certified by ICML, individuals are first required to apply for candidacy. Candidacy requires a combination of experience and formal training in an approved course of study. ICML will comply with the minimum training requirements being set forth by ISO/TC108/SC5 as provisionally defined in the pending ISO/CD 18436. Once accepted into candidacy, an individual must achieve a satisfactory score on a multiple-choice examination covering the body of knowledge as defined by ICML. If successful, the individual will be certified by ICML, receive a wall certificate and a wallet card providing proof of certification. Certified individuals may identify themselves in correspondence with their certification (i.e., John Q. Doe, Level II MLT).

ICML plans to offer industry the following three certifications, at two levels each. Other certification areas may be added in the future. Likewise, if required a third level may be added to any certification area.

Machine Lubricant Analyst (MLA) - These individuals must demonstrate competency in the area of used lubricant analysis for machine condition monitoring. Level I certification is oriented toward the basics of sampling, test selection and fundamental data interpretation. Level II is directed toward advanced diagnostics and troubleshooting, integration with other technologies and program

Machine Lubrication Technician (MLT) - These individuals must demonstrate competency in the day-to-day activities associated with proper lubrication of machinery. Level I is oriented toward lubrication basics and the proper application and storage of lubricant. Level II is directed toward advanced understanding of lubrication fundamentals, lubricant selection and lubrication schedule and
program management.

Laboratory Lubricant Analyst (LLA) - These individuals must demonstrate competency in the performance of oil analysis activities typically required of a laboratory technician working in the used lubricant analysis field. Level I is oriented toward the basic aspects of performing common tests in the lab and assuring data quality. Level II is directed toward advanced diagnostics, troubleshooting instrument error and managing lab processes, including testing and service quality.

ICML plans to make all of these certification-testing programs available in 2001. Here is the expected schedule of availability:

  • MLA Level I - January, 2001 - MLA Level II - March, 2001
  • MLT Level I - April, 2001 - MLT Level II - August, 2001
  • LLA Level I - July, 2001 - LLA Level II - September, 2001

For more information about ICML certification programs, visit ICML’s Web site at

About the Author

Jim Fitch, a founder and CEO of Noria Corporation, has a wealth of experience in lubrication, oil analysis, and machinery failure investigations. He has advised hundreds of companies on developing their lubrication and oil analysis programs. Contact Jim at

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