Reliability Maintenance is an often-overworked term, but nevertheless the concept is one of increasing importance in our industrial world today. The philosophy was derived from the quality assurance concepts developed in the previous decades and codified in ISO 9000 and similar quality initiatives. This is a proactive and predictive, rather than a reactive, approach to maintenance and manufacturing. It has emerged as one of the basic building blocks for a successful company’s business strategy. We call this business philosophy asset management. Proactive, predictive plant maintenance has now become an integral part of the asset management strategy of successful manufacturing companies.

In the United States alone over 200 billion dollars are lost each year to friction and wear. A portion of these losses affects plant maintenance. Indeed, so called reactive maintenance costs companies three times that of predictive maintenance. This is reason enough to develop an effective strategy to reduce maintenance costs. These costs directly affect the “bottom line,” and therefore, the net return on assets. Because good maintenance practices so directly affect the financial performance of a manufacturing operation, no manager can neglect this aspect of his management responsibilities. Thus, it is imperative that companies adopt a competitive maintenance strategy, if they want to remain viable competitors in today’s highly competitive markets.

The Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers has long been a part of the engineering community. Its members include those who work at the leading edge of the scientific study of lubrication, friction and wear processes. Its members also include those who are directly responsible for the successful operation of manufacturing equipment by utilizing the best possible lubrication and maintenance practices to reduce friction and wear. Through the interaction of its individual and corporate members, the Society has helped to promote and establish recognized levels of skill and knowledge in the fields of lubrication engineering and maintenance practices. Because of the financial impact of these technologies on effective asset management, the Society has identified the need for certification programs to recognize and document proficiency in these engineering technologies.

The first of these certification programs, established in 1993, was the renowned Certified Lubrication Specialist (C.L.S.) program. The C.L.S. certification focuses on proper lubrication practices in a wide variety of equipment and applications. The Board of Directors of STLE has now approved the second certification program for the Society. This new certification program, “Oil Monitoring Analyst,” was initially conceived and proposed to the Board in January 1998 by past STLE President Bill Marscher in response to requests from industry. The certification program is designed to encourage and demonstrate an agreed upon level of competence in the field of machinery oil monitoring. Oil monitoring in this context consists of sampling and analyzing the oil properties to assess whether the oil needs service and/or to assess the mechanical health of the equipment being monitored. Programs like OMA can lead to substantial cost savings, avoidance of federal regulation violations and can help with ISO 9000 compliance. In this regard, the Board also approved a resolution requiring that all certification programs for the Society be consistent with the requirements of National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA).

The OMA program is geared toward technical professionals (engineers, scientists, and craftspeople) substantially involved in any oil-based condition monitoring and predictive maintenance activity. Two types of exams will be given in the OMA program. One will be for the oil sampling technician; the other will be for the oil analyzer. The exams will focus on methods of oil sampling, basic lubrication, testing and analysis. Further, they will test knowledge and judgment in data interpretation, archiving, troubleshooting, and remedial strategies. Thus, qualified individuals performing a plant’s predictive or condition-based maintenance activities will sharply reduce catastrophic failure and will reduce cost and labor.

Clearly, companies developing comprehensive strategies for reliability maintenance, based in part on Oil Analysis, will want to include extensive, documented training in the best technology and plant practices. One company offering training in oil analysis is Noria Corporation, publishers of this periodical.

These companies will also want to document the effectiveness of that training through third-party competency certification. This becomes part of companies’ intellectual property. It is STLE’s goal to raise the level of professional recognition for those individuals proficient in these critical technologies. Through these efforts, STLE will assist industry managers in developing cost-effective, technically advanced maintenance programs as part of their overall asset management responsibilities.

The first certification exam (Type I) was held at the Practicing Oil Analysis ‘99 Conference and Exhibition held in Tulsa, Oklahoma in late October 1999. Currently, the STLE OMA exam is scheduled to follow each of Noria Corporation’s public Oil Analysis II seminars in the year 2000. Contact STLE for specific locations and dates. The Type II examination is still being prepared. Our target for availability of this exam will be the JOAP Conference in Mobil, AL in April 2000. Consult this magazine and the STLE Website www.STLE.org to learn of future developments, education courses and exam dates.