How Certification Can Trigger a Culture Change

Suzy Hitchcock, ICML
Tags: maintenance and reliability

The International Council for Machinery Lubrication (ICML) recently announced changes to its board of directors. Eli Lilly and Company’s Rendela Wenzel joins the board after serving on the organization’s advisory council and exam committees.

Wenzel is no stranger to ICML. She earned her Machine Lubricant Analyst (MLA) certification at ICML’s very first exam session. That was in 2001 when Wenzel was a young reliability engineer with several team members who were many years her senior. She needed to be able to demonstrate that she had the necessary knowledge and skills despite her youth. Achieving the MLA credential through ICML’s independent assessment process earned Wenzel the respect she required to impart the necessary culture change within her work environment.

“As a certified individual, you are recognized as the subject-matter expert (SME) for all things lubrication and can set the requirements for how sites approach lubrication-related activities to achieve the desired results,” Wenzel says.

In the 15 years since earning her MLA credentials, Wenzel has continued to prove herself. She has successfully developed a reliability engineering career and today holds a global reliability role within Eli Lilly. Her program was the 2008 recipient of the prestigious John R. Battle Award for excellence in lubrication.

Wenzel replaces Tamko Building Products’ Hugh Edmondson on the ICML board. While an officer of the board from 2014 to 2016, Edmondson focused on the continuous improvement of exam questions. He continues to advise the ICML board and is active in exam development committees. As the corporate director of reliability integration for Tamko and holder of both lubrication and oil analysis credentials from ICML, he agrees with Wenzel on the impact certification can have on an organization’s culture.

“If you want to change culture, you must change behaviors,” Edmondson explains. “And if you want to do so, you have to build processes that do that. This is heavily dependent upon the science behind the business. That’s the process driver. Certification allows you to understand the science and build the proper processes and procedures that will beget the culture change.”

Wenzel and Edmondson share a similar journey. Both are mechanical engineers in the field of maintenance and reliability overseeing lubrication programs for multiple facilities at the corporate level. Both also have experience in the military and private industry.

“The lubrication programs at facilities need a champion, and the certified individual is that champion,” Wenzel adds. “They set the standards and author the requirements for both lubrication and analysis, and can directly affect machine reliability and therefore production uptime.”

Edmondson also realizes the value of certification as a tool to optimize the investment made in skills training.

“As we embraced certification, it became clear that from the people being sent to training, the ones who chose to pursue certification tended to be better students in the courses and retain relevant information much better,” he recalls. “This was clearly a result of their expectation regarding training and certification outcomes. The lubrication program is certainly more effective. The certified individuals not only retain more information but are more likely to practically implement what they have learned during training.”

Wenzel believes that while many companies may not initially understand the impact of a certified individual, over time as the program matures and the impact is realized, certification is seen as invaluable to the organization and its bottom line.

“One of the things that certified people bring to their organization is a systematic way of showing return on investment and an industry-wide method for measuring results,” Wenzel notes. “Certified individuals understand machinery reliability and apply these concepts to maximizing production uptime and availability of their plant’s assets.”


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