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The demand for highly qualified lubricant analysts is rising at a fast pace, and this growth trend will not be changing anytime soon. Why? It’s because the broader reliability field is also soaring with growth. Think about it. It’s difficult for a machine to fail (mechanically) without the lubricant knowing about it. Literacy in the language of in-service lubricant analysis must be learned and practiced.
Sadly, most plants and factories are only receiving about 10 percent of the available information benefit that the lubricant has to offer. The oil is talking, but honestly so few are really listening. Or, they are listening but don’t understand. Or, they understand but aren’t empowered to act. Herein lies a great untapped opportunity.
Let’s not kid ourselves. There is no such thing as world-class reliability without world-class lubrication. Taking this further, there is no such thing as world-class lubrication without world-class lubricant analysis. Lubricant analysis, or oil analysis, is the central metric for the current and changing state of lubrication and mechanical reliability. Those who work for world-class organizations “get it,” but everyone else just doesn’t seem to understand.
Noria is working hard at building awareness for this critical metric and the need for plant-level lubricant analyst talent. We’ve observed and read about the stories of transformation successes in reliability. Understandably, these all depend on having the right people in place who possess critical skills and experience. Pretending to save money by not employing skillful lubricant analysts is not building real reliability.
People who are interested in a career as a lubricant analyst need to rise above the fray. Too many of those who perform oil analysis are working with aging skills and out-of-date methods. They are not doing much more than going through the motions. They neither see nor are harvesting the low-hanging fruit.
The amount of new knowledge that has channeled into this field in the past 20 years is vast and continues to grow almost exponentially. The technology deployed by labs and analysts is also experiencing soaring growth and constant change. While this may sound intimidating and a bit scary, it has created an opportunity for both employers and those looking for smart career moves.
The following are some ideas on how an aspiring in-service lubricant analyst can capitalize on this opportunity. Think of it as a master plan for building a killer lube analyst résumé.
Noria offers three levels of training for those seeking a lubricant analyst career track. Each course is three days of training plus study aids. The first level stresses the fundamentals of lubricants and lubrication with an introduction to lubricant analysis. The second level provides a broad overview of lubricant analysis topics with special emphasis on sampling and contamination control. The third level covers strategy, wear debris analysis, program design, alarms and limits, and data interpretation.
The International Council for Machinery Lubrication (ICML) offers three certification levels in compliance with ISO 18436-4. These are available in numerous languages and geographies. There is no better way to validate competency in lubricant analysis.
Obtain solid credentials in the broader field of machine reliability. A variety of education programs are available. Good certifications include the Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional (CMRP), Certified Reliability Leader (CRL) and Certified Reliability Engineer (CLE).
There are numerous training programs with course curriculum relating to machine and component failure. A quick Internet search can identify classes on bearing failure, gear failure, engine failure and others.
The best lubricant analysts are not just trying to detect active failure symptoms but also root causes. Tracing a failure post mortem to its roots is known in the industry as root cause analysis (RCA). How great would it be to have RCA training on your résumé?
Effective condition-monitoring programs deploy many tools and skills. Lubricant analysts who are multilingual can discuss and compare notes with vibration analysts, infrared folks and other stakeholders/specialists in machine reliability. Training and certification are available in all of these fields. The lube analyst should start with introductory courses in each technology area.
If you work in a plant, don’t just perform oil analysis. Instead, take the lead in transforming your program to a world-class level. How cool would it be to state on your résumé that you led a world-class program?
Writing a corporate or plant-level oil analysis manual or guide speaks volumes about your knowledge and commitment to the subject. Include detailed procedures in the manual covering everything from oil sampling to remediation practices.
Plant training on oil analysis topics helps to build awareness and garner support from key personnel. Demonstrate that you are the go-to person on all related subjects.
Assemble what you’ve learned into an article or paper and submit it for publication. Noria is always seeking good case studies and success stories from the user community.
If you think your program approaches world class, then get the recognition it deserves. ICML presents the Augustus H. Gill Award to organizations that achieve excellence in oil analysis.
True experts in in-service lubricant analysis are few and far between. Find a subject niche in which you are interested and study everything you can about it. Publish articles on the subject, write a book, present papers at conferences like Reliable Plant, and participate in ASTM and ISO standards meetings.
Among other things, your professional qualifications define essential knowhow and reveal your ability to take initiative. Anyone who can build a world-class oil analysis program can easily do it a second or third time. This could be at other plants within your company or with other employers altogether. As Thomas Edison once said, “Knowledge without application means nothing.” Your résumé needs to show that you are a “knowing” person as well as a “doing” person. If you achieve both, the career opportunities will beat a path to your door.