ICML Pioneers Standard on Oil Analyst Certification

Suzy Jamieson, ICML
Tags: industrial lubricants

In 2001, the International Council for Machinery Lubrication started its certification programs for lubrication technicians and oil analysts. These programs were based on original, ICML-developed bodies of knowledge, career structure, job description, required training syllabus and certification exam structure. In its eight years of operation, using these same elements, ICML has certified more than 4,000 professionals in 50 different countries and has offered its exams in eight different languages.

The Organization for International Standardization (ISO) has recently published its ISO 18436-4 standard. This standard outlines the requirements for qualification and assessment (including training and certification) of field oil analysts, describing among other things exam requirements, job objectives and the syllabus that shall be followed in the training and certification examination of candidates seeking classification as field lubricant analysts on a three-tier category.

ICML is honored that its certification program structure has been adopted by ISO in its first international standard on certification (as part of assessment) of lube analysts. ICML shared its Machinery Lubrication Technician (MLT) I, and Machinery Lubrication Analyst (MLA) I and MLA II bodies of knowledge with the ISO working group developing 18436-4. The proposed body of knowledge was then circulated for vote as part of the draft standard. Response from the ISO member bodies was very positive, with the vast majority of the countries approving the use of the proposed syllabus based on ICML’s MLT I, MLA I and MLA II, for 18436-4’s category I, II and III, respectively. Some oil analysis was added to the MLT I program, since it was being adopted into an analysis standard.

While ICML is very thrilled to have contributed to industry in such an important manner, it will not call itself the “ISO certified” or “ISO accredited” certification program. The topic of the inexistence of ISO accreditation or certification of assessment programs in accordance with 18436-4 already has been discussed in previous articles by this author, from which is quoted: “ISO’s main function is to develop and publish international standards. It does not have the function of certifying compliance with such standards nor of accrediting such certification.” Based on that, neither an individual nor an organization can properly claim to be “ISO certified”. It is utterly important to understand that ISO does not accredit or certify a certification or training program, so one should be very wary of any company that says they are “the ISO accredited” program in any given country. Programs, in general, may be accredited by certain member bodies, which are normally a country’s standard organization; however, a program may receive accreditation even if it is not in compliance with ISO 18436-4, specifically because accreditation of programs only relates to the process, not to the content or quality of the examination. Furthermore, it is not ISO that accredits the program, but an independent accrediting organization. In actuality, any training or certification company that claims to be “ISO certified” is in the direct conflict with ISO protocol.

ISO 18436-4
Annex A from the ISO 18436-4 Standard

In choosing a service provider for certification of lubricant analysts, end-users should compare the standard to both the training and certification programs being used. Additionally, as with the selection of any service provider, consideration should be given to the reputation of the companies in question when choosing a provider.

On a closing note, ICML would like to congratulate all of its volunteers that have made possible this tremendous achievement: having become in the space of five to eight years a “de facto world standard” in the certification of lubrication and analysis professionals. Furthermore, having ICML’s bodies of knowledge accepted into a standard by a highly respected organization, such as ISO, is an achievement. ICML feels that sharing its bodies of knowledge with ISO aligns with its mission of advocating the needs of lubrication and analysis practitioners for additional lubrication-related standards as part of its dedication to the betterment of industry.

About ICML

The International Council for Machinery Lubrication (ICML) is a vendor-neutral, not-for-profit organization founded to facilitate growth and development of machine lubrication as a technical field of endeavor. Among its various activities, ICML offers skill certification testing for individuals in the fields of machine condition monitoring, lubrication and oil analysis. ICML is an independently chartered organization consisting of both paid professional staff members and volunteer advisors. It provides lubrication and oil analysis standard development support, scholarship, skill-based testing and certification, and recognition of excellence.