Certifying Condition Monitoring Personnel

Suzy Jamieson, ICML

There has been much discussion in the industry lately regarding the upcoming ISO 18436 standard series on training and certification of condition monitoring (CM) personnel. Many managers are eagerly awaiting the publishing of these standards to defer to ISO certification of their personnel for matters related to skill assessment of the CM staff.

The ISO 18436 series specifies the requirements for assessment bodies, training bodies and procedures for qualification and assessment of personnel who perform machinery condition monitoring and diagnostics.

While these upcoming standards are indeed a milestone in industry and quite overdue, it is necessary to understand the intent of these standards, as well as the limitations. This will enable industry to optimize the use of such standards and avoid being misled by false representation of such ISO certification.

On this note, it is also important to explain that the series 18436 has been renamed from "training and certification" to "qualification and assessment". As seen in predefined ISO nomenclature, the use of "certification" would have been understood as third-party certification only.

ISO's Function
The main function of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 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. However, among the standards which ISO has developed and published is the ISO/IEC 17000 series of standards which specify requirements for all kinds of bodies which perform such certification and accreditation functions.

Included in these standards (and especially in ISO/IEC 17030, which deals with third-party marks of conformity) are requirements about what may and what may not be written on certificates and (by implication) on letterheads, business cards, etc. In particular, any use of the phrase "ISO certified" would be inconsistent with those requirements.

Different accreditation bodies in ISO member countries are not likely to develop arrangements for the accreditation of certification bodies certifying to the ISO 18436 series as early, as quickly or as universally as industry may desire. As an example, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) does not offer accreditation of certifying bodies as to its compliance with technical standards such as the 18436 series. Even those accreditation bodies most likely to offer such a service will have much work to do before they are in a position which they can attempt such an endeavor.

It is also not a function of ISO to negotiate with representatives of certification bodies and accreditation bodies about how they should proceed toward implementing the standards which ISO produces. ISO can encourage and facilitate such negotiations, but these need to be more directly conducted by those who are interested in using the standard. That is why it is so important for end users of this standard series, the industry practitioners putting their CM personnel through training and certification, to understand the requirements outlined in the standards series when choosing a training or certifying body with which to work.

Parts to Publish
There are several parts of 18436 already available as published standards with other parts soon to follow. Part 18436-4 on qualification and assessment of lubricant analysis field personnel has just been approved as a standard for publishing after the successful final round of voting. Part 18436-5 on qualification and assessment of laboratory-based lubricant analysis personnel is expected to move through the different stages of voting quickly.

Certification of one part of ISO 18436 does not automatically infer or imply accreditation and/or certification of another part of ISO 18436. Each part, or body of knowledge, of ISO 18436 stands alone. Therefore, any certificate must state the specific part of ISO 18436 that is applicable.

Applicants should seek verification from any person or organization claiming compliance or accreditation to ISO 18436 by requesting documented proof of such claims, particularly where compliance to the body of knowledge parts of ISO 18436 is either stated, implied or inferred.

ISO TC/108/SC5, the subcommittee on condition monitoring and diagnostics of machines, which is responsible for generating the standard series 18436, intends to publish a technical document expanding on the concepts discussed herein in hopes to clarify such issues to the general public and optimize the usage of the 18436 series.

For More Information

For more information about any of the 18436 series standards or how to participate in the development of ISO standards, visit www.iso.org or e-mail info@lubecouncil.org and the author will be glad to direct your comments and inquiries to SC5's secretariat. For more information on certification of oil analysis and machinery lubrication personnel or ICML in general, visit www.lubecouncil.org.

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.

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