Ask The Experts Best In Class Lubrication Practices 654a8130abf9d

Ask the Experts: Best-in-class lubrication practices

Nov. 7, 2023
The standard collectively known as ICML 55 provide a structured framework for developing lubrication management system (LMS) plans that can be audited and certified.

In this Ask the Experts feature, expert practitioner and consultant members of the International Council for Machinery Lubrication (ICML) tackle questions on best-in-class lubrication practices.

The standard collectively known as ICML 55 provide a structured framework for developing lubrication management system (LMS) plans that can be audited and certified. ICML 55 also is strategically aligned to the ISO 55000 Asset Management Standard and is intended to support an organization’s broader physical asset management plans. For this article, three industry experts shared their thoughts on ICML 55.0 “Overview” and 55.1 “Requirements,” as well as the newly released 55.2 “Guidelines” and upcoming 55.3 auditing component.

This month’s panel:

  • Wesley Cash, MLE, MLT II, MLA I, VP Services at Noria Corporation
  • Muhammad Ali Qureshi, CMRP, MLA III, MLE, Reliability and Machine Condition Monitoring Engineer (Rotating Equipment), Saudi Aramco
  • Wojciech Majka, MLE, CLS, President and CEO, Ecol Sp. z o.o.

Q1: The ICML 55.1 “Requirements” standard was released in 2019. What did you expect to find in ICML 55.1, and were those expectations met?

Wes Cash: Lubrication is a program that impacts so many aspects of an industrial or manufacturing facility, so having a standard way to move forward is imperative. ICML 55.1 is a standard written by experts around the globe, so it encapsulates lessons learned throughout multiple industries with different organizational constraints.

Wojciech Majka: There are many international (and national) standards, as well as industry guidelines (or OEMs requirements) and published articles addressing best practices in lubrication area; however, they are often difficult to find, compare, and use in practice. The need for a standard in lubrication management that sets the common denominator was strongly expected.

When ICML 55.1:2019 “Requirements” became available, I immediately acquired one to see how it was organized—and what I was most curious about—whether our own services were aligned with the standard. I expected to find a practical handbook explaining what world-class lubrication management should look like, including the definition of areas that have to be addressed.

The good news was that we fit the standard’s requirements. I also was positively surprised how well structured and detailed the standard is. It really reads easy, and I can immediately address the content to our practice. I admit, the document exceeded my expectations and I think they are fully met.

Wes Cash: At Noria we help develop and improve lubrication programs. We also contributed to this standard, not just to help elevate the practice of lubrication but also to elevate the industry as a whole. Since 55.1 is a framework document, I believe there were expectations of having more detailed information about “how-to,” but we realized this would fall within the 55.2 standard.

Muhammad Ali Qureshi: Because I always had a complete confidence in ICML as a not-for-profit organization and its testing criteria, the moment I heard of the new asset management standard series my first impression was that this must be a quality document based on some lubrication standards or depicting lubrication standards for almost every industry.

My second impression was that definitely I wanted to try the first MLE certification exam during the Reliable Plant conference in April 2019. I was of the opinion that if I prepare for the MLE, I would know more about the ICML 55.1 standard and would also be ahead of the game—meaning that I would return back to Saudi Arabia with the latest qualification and awareness about the new standard series, which would obviously benefit my employer, too.

I found ICML 55.1 very useful in fully addressing the machinery lubrication requirements in 12 key areas of lubrication system designs, management, analysis, trouble shooting, and most of all its non-machinery support on assets (e.g., personnel, policies & procedures, storage facilities, and management).

Q2: Where or how have you been using the ICML 55.1 “Requirements” standard to develop a Lubrication Management System (LMS)?

Muhammad Ali Qureshi: We have benefited a lot at Saudi Aramco, especially for improving our lubrication storage and handling and for our lube oil analysis for routine oil samples, as well as any critical machinery that is indicating an incipient stage of an upcoming failure.

We focused on the following key elements or areas depicted in the ICML 55.1:

  • machine: machine lubrication and condition monitoring readiness (through design or modifications)
  • lubricant: lubricant system design and selection (during initial design for new machinery in new projects)
  • tools: lubrication support facilities and tools (ordered more transfer containers from oil safe, also segregated lubricant drums to different areas)
  • inspection: machine and lubricant inspection (focused more on operators and vibration technicians’ rounds)
  • lubricant analysis: condition monitoring and lubrication analysis (intensive analysis, Noria ML I and ML II training)
  • troubleshooting: fault/failure troubleshooting and RCA (for bad actors or for chronic failures)
  • management: program management and metrics (we had already developed five KPIs but started to follow them more strictly because of 55.1).

We have successfully controlled our contamination levels on a bigger scale, which usually forms the basis of any rotating equipment failure due to wear. It also benefited us for our new projects that I was reviewing at the design stages, where I was able to emphasize enough on the lube sumps and systems along with their accessories.

Wojciech Majka: When ICML 55.1 became available, we started to verify if we are aligned within it and whether our own set of procedures and standards are compatible with the standard. We found that we weren’t identifying (some of) the areas the same way as 55.1 standard does, and it took some detailed work to verify whether we understand and cover all the requirements the same way and how we can prove it. We are now working on a method of direct implementation of 55.1 in our ISO integrated management system to prepare it for further audits. Future new LMS projects will be implemented with explicit use of ICML 55.1.

Q3: ICML 55.2 “Guidelines” progresses naturally from ICML 55.1 by offering guidance for implementing the standard’s requirements. How do you expect ICML 55.2 to impact LMS plans and practices in industry?

Wes Cash: I think this is the piece that many are looking forward to in terms of implementation – the “how-to” guide based on what ICML 55.1 outlined, and I think it will create a greater push to improve a lubrication program. Organizations can be leery of changing the status quo without a compelling reason to do so. Since this is a global document, it cuts across all industries and can serve as a baseline for jump-starting an improvement effort.

Muhammad Ali Qureshi: We expect to use ICML 55.2 to optimize the lubrication management on our existing assets that are obsolete and difficult to administer. It is my strong opinion that a professional degree in mechanical engineering is not needed to implement LMS through ICML 55.2. However, as part of the MLE certification, teams must develop a proper understanding of the guidelines for the optimized lubrication of mechanical physical assets, and team members should try their level best to attain MLE certification.

Wojciech Majka: I have had the great privilege of contributing to the preparation of ICML 55.2 as an author of one of the chapters, where I did my best to share my experience. The practical guidelines will be very helpful to both inexperienced lubrication management professionals starting in LMS, but also useful for experienced practitioners when it comes to refreshing their knowledge and maybe challenging their practices with modern, up-to-date solutions.

Bear in mind that the goal of 55.1 is to prepare your LMS in such a way that it can be audited in the future. That is why ICML 55.2 is so important, because it guides the reader how to understand the link between the requirements and practical ways of achieving the goal. ICML 55.2 will be a good enabler to reach world-class LMS.

Q4: The upcoming ICML 55.3 auditing component will enable organizations that implement ICML 55 requirements to be able to pursue certification as ICML 55 Compliant.

Wojciech Majka: There has to be an auditing component to every standard, so naturally, ICML 55.3 will become an important tool for validating if a lubrication management system is in compliance with ICML 55.

Wes Cash: This is the sustainability portion of the standard. Now there will be a way to check against the standard for compliance. It also speaks to organizations that seek out ISO audits and the like that can showcase a commitment to improvement and longevity.

Wojciech Majka: The reward for any organization/company of being recognized as “ICML 55 Compliant” will be very meaningful and satisfying to the contributing team. The challenge to ICML will be preparing the 55.3 component in the way that will be available to experienced and neutral auditors, so they know how to perform the audits.

An important question is, who shall the auditors be? Lubrication or maintenance experts? Should they have ISO (or other standards) auditing experience? Should auditors be independent professionals or working on behalf of audit firms, or will ICML itself provide such services? I believe the more that we, LMS practitioners, discuss and argue, the better. Let’s see what the feedback is from 55.1 and 55.2 components and let’s follow the real needs from industry.

Q5: Please share some final thoughts about what you see in the marketplace regarding the appetite of plant teams to a structured approach to LMS development.

Muhammad Ali Qureshi: In my opinion, you have to educate your internal and external customers about the need and subsequent benefits of developing a lubrication management system. Once your customer or team is onboard with the holistic approach to LMS, then you start to follow the steps or guidance provided in ICML 55.1 for developing an effective LMS. We pretty much followed the same approach for Saudi Aramco and focused more on trainings and ICML certifications.

Wojciech Majka: The answer to this question is not that easy. On one hand, some plant teams are used to working with ISO standards, so implementing an additional standard isn’t difficult or problematic. Those who understand the role of proper maintenance and who are reliability-oriented have an openness to this approach.

On the other hand, there are teams who for some reason do not have standardized management systems, so they are perhaps less open to implementing a standard. However, these teams also have an appetite for a new approach in LMS.

Wes Cash: It appears the industry is open to a more structured approach to managing their lubrication programs. The general sense is that there is little visibility to lubrication programs, and little accountability to making sure they get accomplished; these are typically characteristic of programs that don’t have clear-cut goals or an overall vision for their lubrication program. Having a singular resource that a user can access, that enables program visibility and accountability, is a powerful tool. It can bring lubrication out from the shadows and into a place that can be effectively observed and monitored for improvement and compliance.

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