World-Class Reliability Starts with a Solid Foundation

Suzy Jamieson, ICML

When it comes to developing, implementing and sustaining a reliability-improvement program, long-term success ultimately depends on a solid foundation. Indeed, it is the foundation that will determine whether the current initiative will be just another fad or actually achieve the results you have set out to accomplish. It is also important to know the elements that are in place will withstand the test of time and weather the storms that will inevitably come your way.

Sometimes we overlook the obvious. As a society, we invest considerable time and energy aiming for great heights yet often forget that crucial ingredient for making sure we do not fall flat on our faces once we have reached the top. In other words, you have to crawl before you can walk. No matter how great an idea seems in theory, it is a long, uncertain journey from design to actual results, especially for anything worthwhile.

As with most other things in life, you must start at the bottom. In the case of reliability programs, this means the hands-on personnel, the shop-floor staff or the technicians. They are the human foundation of any reliability-improvement program. Without them, their buy-in and a solid foundation of technical skills, no amount of reliability theory, philosophy or trendy gadgetry will make the program stand when it is shaken - and it will be shaken. After all, as any maintenance and reliability professional knows, things do not always go according to plan.

Benefits of ICML Certification

Quality certification programs not only can provide standards and guidelines for professional recognition but also a multitude of benefits for individuals, organizations and industry.

For Individuals

Earning an ICML certification acknowledges your expertise in machinery lubrication and/or oil analysis to troubleshoot and ensure reliability of lubricated equipment. The lubrication and oil analysis community, your employer, clients and peers will recognize your ICML credential as a symbol of the skills and knowledge you’ve gained through experience. ICML certification shows that you are a professional with the ability to successfully utilize machinery lubrication and/or oil analysis for your organization or client.

As an ICML-certified professional, you also receive the following benefits:

• Industry recognition of your knowledge and proficiency in machinery lubrication and/or oil analysis techniques.
• Logos and a certificate to enable you to identify your ICML-certified status to colleagues or clients.

For Employers and Organizations

Through certification, organizations can maximize their return on investment in oil analysis. ICML certification delivers the following benefits:

• A standardized method of determining training needs and measuring results
• A reliable benchmark for hiring, promoting and career planning
• Employee recognition and rewards that validate their expertise
• Improved employee ability to ensure machine reliability
• Quality assurance for outsourced oil analysis and lubrication services

For Industry

Certification brings much-needed credentials to an up-and-coming lubrication and oil analysis community. Benefits to the community include:

• Respect for oil analysis and lubrication professions
• Increased professionalism within the community

Be sure to value and respect the technicians and the crucial role they play in the outcome of any plant reliability-improvement program. It is in your best interest to recognize the direct impact they have on the culture change. Respecting and supporting them in their professional development and teaching them not only what they should or need to be doing but also why will make all the difference.

Common sense and mutual respect can go a long way, even in our plants. Give technicians a solid start by providing them with the proper tools they need to succeed. This means ensuring they have the appropriate job description and pre-established procedures that are clearly taught and monitored through proper supervision.

The importance of skills development cannot be overemphasized. This will require technical training for tradesmen as well as operators, followed by an audit of their skill set, i.e., competency testing in the technologies they will utilize when monitoring the condition of your assets.

As you develop technicians to be future leaders within your program, new mentors will emerge. Empowering them with career potential and recognition of their worth and contributions to the overall health of the plant’s reliability and availability will instill the pride everyone deserves in his or her professional role. Suddenly you will find yourself with in-house experts eager to make a difference. The intangible benefits you will see are the same as those experienced and documented by many world-class operations.

The crucial first step is to understand where you are currently. Establish your starting point, not only in relation to your practices and your team’s skill level (be it in lubrication, for example, or other areas), but also where you aim to be, such as a benchmarked world-class parameter. Knowledge of the steps needed to get where you want to go is an obvious necessity, as is knowing where your limited resources are best spent - and everyone has limited resources. Ultimately, wherever your higher return-on-investment opportunity lies, that is where your focus should be.

To learn more about ICML’s certification programs, please visit

Subscribe to Machinery Lubrication

About the Author