Recognizing Excellence in Machinery Lubrication - ICML Announces the John R. Battle Award

Suzy Jamieson, International Council for Machinery Lubrication
Tags: industrial lubricants

For the past three years, the International Council for Machinery Lubrication (ICML) has recognized organizations which have demonstrated excellence in the application of used oil analysis for the achievement of improved machine reliability and overall quality in maintenance through the Augustus H. Gill Award. The Gill Award has become a synonym of world-class oil analysis programs, honoring prime examples in the industry which have received much-deserved recognition for their pioneering efforts. Past award recipients include Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station (Arizona Public Service, 2001), Smoky Canyon Mine (J.R. Simplot, 2002), and Plant Branch-Georgia Power (Southern Company, 2003). All had the pleasure to receive such a prestigious award on behalf of their teams and companies. ICML is currently reviewing nominees for the 2004 Gill Award, and by the spring of 2005 will present the award to yet another deserving oil analysis team at an innovative organization.

It is now time for ICML to do the same for people in industry for their efforts in developing and implementing a world-class lubrication program.

Figure 1.
Battle in 1923 at
the age of 34
Courtesy of
Julie Clattenburg.

The John R. Battle Award
As its counterpart, the Gill Award recognizes excellence in the area of oil analysis, the John R. Battle Award has been developed to recognize organizations that have exhibited excellence in the application of machinery lubrication. The award, honoring Mr. Battle, was designed to motivate companies to improve machine reliability and maintenance quality through development, implementation and management of a best-in-class machinery lubrication program. As with the previous award, ICML’s focus is not just to identify award recipients, but to encourage performance of excellence and create a means to share best practices among user organizations on a global scale. In the same manner that the ICML is raising the bar in the area of skill-based certification and through the Gill Award, so it will do with the Battle Award, by recognizing role models for benchmarking and setting performance standards by the lubrication and reliability community.

To become a John R. Battle Award recipient, the ideal organization must demonstrate solid lubrication program, backed-up by multidisciplinary efforts and approaches, with sustainable results and continued improvements. Among other factors, the John R. Battle Award criteria will include:

  • Commitment to Education and Skill Competencies
  • Maintenance Culture and Management Support
  • Lubricant Selection, Lubricant Performance Standards and Lubricant Consolidation
  • Preventive, Predictive and Proactive Program Design and Effectiveness
  • Lubrication Program Metrics and Overall Performance Tracking
  • Lubricant Storage, Handling, Safety and Conservation
  • Lubrication PM Optimization, Work Plan Management, Scheduling, Documentation
  • Oil Analysis Program Design, Test Slates, Lab Selection and Setting of Alarms
  • Oil Analysis Sampling Frequency, Sampling Hardware and Procedures
  • Contamination Exclusion and Removal
  • Oil and Grease Application Methods and Hardware Deployed

2005 Inaugural Year for the John R. Battle Award
ICML plans to present the inaugural Battle Award in the spring of 2005, during the Lubrication Excellence 2005 Conference and Exhibition in San Antonio, Texas. This is a great opportunity to gain the recognition for your lubrication program and the great honor of being the first recipient of the Battle Award. Do you think your organization meets the qualifications for such an award? The opportunity to apply for the Battle Award is available to you and your organization, and ICML cannot nominate the company on your behalf. Nominations need to come from industry, so it’s up to you to start the process. For information on applying, go to the ICML Web site and apply online at www.lubecouncil.org or contact the ICML at info@lubecouncil.org.

John R. Battle
John Rome Battle (Figure 1) was born March 30, 1889 in St. Louis, Missouri and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1910 with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering. He later received a Master of Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 1917 for a thesis on oil engineering.

Mr. Battle began his career in 1910 as a cadet engineer for United Gas Improvement Co. in Philadelphia. He worked as a lubrication engineer for Atlantic Refining Co. and later took a position with Swan and Finch Co. In 1916 while still with Atlantic, he authored his first book, “Lubricating Engineer’s Handbook.” In 1920, only three years after receiving his master’s degree, Mr. Battle started his own consulting business, J.R. Battle and Co., specializing in industrial application, use and research of petroleum and other oil products. During the same year he published a second book “Handbook of Industrial Oil Engineering.” With more than 1,100 pages, this was a practical handbook, encyclopedic in nature, with the original “Lubricating Engineer’s Handbook” content incorporated in it (Figure 2).


Figure 2. Illustration from Battle’s book,
“Industrial Oil Engineering”

With plain text explanations and several charts, line drawings, curves and useful tables, the book was adopted by several oil companies at the time and had two subsequent editions in 1933 and 1936. Mr. Battle wrote another book, “Handbook of Lubrication, Liquid fuels and Industrial Oil Engineering” in 1938, as well as several articles throughout his career. He also served as editor of the Industrial Oil Engineering Department of The National Petroleum News and was a member of American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the American Petroleum Institute (API).


Mr. Battle invented various types of lubrication and oil handling and dispensing equipment while concurrently presiding over his other company, Gun-fil Corporation.

The Gun-fil lubricator was patented by Mr. Battle in 1924. It is a spring-loaded automatic lubricator. The lubricator is designed to deliver a constant amount of lubrication. His four design configurations (for different lubricating frequencies) are highlighted in his “Handbook of Industrial Oil Engineering” published in 1926. In 1946 he sold the Gun-fil product line to Gray Company and retired. The company, now Graco, began selling the Gun-fil lubricators and continued to manufacture and sell them until the mid-1960s, when it sold the rights to Lube Devices, Inc.


Figure 3. Battle’s Books

Graco continued to market the Gun-fil lubricators until the early 1980s. The Gun-fil is still sold today by Lube Devices and the lubricator uses the same product number assigned by Graco half a century ago. Graco offers products for lubrication and other applications primarily for end-users. You can view the company’s history and products at www.graco.com. Lube Devices, Inc. offers products primarily to original equipment manufacturer (OEM) markets as well as maintenance, repair and operation (MRO) markets. Its Web site is www.lubedevices.com

Mr. Battle died on March 18, 1975 in Philadelphia, Penn. His three grandchildren, Susan, Julie and Richard Norris Clattenburg live in the East Coast of the United States.

ICML chose to honor Mr. Battle as the namesake for this award because his work represented at such an early stage in the history of modern machinery lubrication, the exact mission of the Council - that of bridging the gap between academic and practical application of machinery lubrication.


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