3 Ways the ICML Awards Can Benefit You

Paul Hiller, ICML

For the past 17 years, the International Council for Machinery Lubrication (ICML) has recognized a variety of plants, programs and individuals with two prestigious awards: the Augustus H. Gill Award for oil analysis excellence and the John R. Battle Award for lubrication excellence. While these awards inherently support the organization’s mission to facilitate growth and development of machine lubrication as a technical field of endeavor, some companies may refrain from nominating themselves or their customers unless they understand the positive impact of doing so.

However, there truly is no downside to the ICML awards. Generally speaking, the more applications you submit, the more tangible the benefits you will receive, whether you win an award or not. These benefits can be seen at three distinct levels: industry, plant and practitioner.

Industry Level: Rising with the Tide

When competing for an award, every team needs a rival to defeat. Sometimes the rival is a longstanding competitor in the market. It could also be another plant in your company or even mediocrity itself. The Gill and Battle awards have established industry-wide benchmarks that everyone can achieve. By fostering a sense of urgency and competition, these benchmarks make it possible for companies to target and attain new performance goals they might not otherwise pursue.

As more companies reach new levels of performance, the number of nominations for the ICML awards is likely to increase. Meanwhile, industry standards benefit globally from these practical efforts. As the old idiom says, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” Nevertheless, industry can only learn from your experiences if you nominate your company for an award.

Plant Level: Make Money, Save Money

At the plant level, you can expect both external and internal benefits. Assuming your company depends on trust and credibility to help convert prospects into paying customers, how can you establish these traits as part of your external brand? Effective tactics include third-party validation, such as customer referrals/testimonials, peer reviews and industry awards.

If your plant wins the Gill or Battle award, you shouldn’t keep it a secret. You can impress customers and prospects by telling them about your award in every available platform. Winning either award is an exceptional accomplishment that your company can parlay into media exposure via your own public relations and social media channels over and above ICML’s promotional efforts. It’s free publicity to enhance your brand.

Internally, if your frontline technicians and analysts see your company consistently making awards submissions, they will know that corporate leaders are serious about quality lubrication and oil analysis programs. The very presence of a trophy, along with the knowledge that submissions are being made to win it, reinforces high-performance expectations across the plant. It clearly communicates that reliability initiatives start at the top. Ideally, such a goal-driven environment brings clarity and focus, making it easier (and less expensive) for practitioners to maintain continued excellence and reliability.

Consulting and training organizations that have helped their customers implement a world-class lubrication or oil analysis program can also earn some bragging rights if their customers win an award. But they can only win if they apply. Don’t wait for that to happen. You can nominate your clients for the Gill or Battle award, and let ICML follow up with them to confirm.

Practitioner Level: Better Employees Equal Better Returns

Can a corporate-level award motivate practitioners on the plant floor? It can if the award is properly ascribed to their individual efforts and commitment. Studies have shown that awards and recognition, feeling like part of the decision-making process, and a sense of achievement are stronger motivators than money. The ICML awards address these motivators by validating that team members are working for a winner. They also demonstrate that all certification training and new practices are worthy of peer acknowledgment.

Why is this important for individual practitioners? Motivated employees bring better returns for their company. Meeting and exceeding personal performance goals will help employees gain self-confidence and exercise self-reliance. The cumulative impact within a lubrication or oil analysis program leads to more reliable achievement of plant-level goals. Never underestimate the motivational power of a purpose (e.g., an industry award) that is bigger than oneself, especially when combined with continuing education that teaches the how and why of lubrication and oil analysis.

Next Steps: The Deadline for 2018 Submissions Is Approaching

If your company wins an ICML award, don’t rest on your laurels. Apply again. Even if you win multiple awards, keep applying. A good rule of thumb is to nominate your best success stories every year. Remember, you want your competitors, customers and team members to know that your commitment to excellence is ongoing. Why? Because everyone likes to do business with winners, and you don’t want to be the company that looks marooned amidst a sea of industry advancements.

Completed applications for the Augustus H. Gill and John R. Battle awards are being accepted through Dec. 31, 2018, so start preparing yours today through the ICML website at www.icmlonline.com. The winners will be announced at Reliable Plant 2019.

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