ICYMI: The importance of lube technician training

How many lube technicians does it take to ensure optimum production reliability? There may not be any one-size-fits-all answer, but what is universally true is that organizations should develop a proactive plan that considers their current and future personnel needs. Educating lubricant technicians is one key way to avoid poor or improper lubrication practices. Here are some tips on providing the relevant training, skills and development opportunities.


How many lube technicians does it take to ensure optimum production reliability?

Well, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Yet what is universally true is that organizations should develop a proactive plan that considers their current and future personnel needs.

Do you have a new group of talents joining you as lubricant specialists? Do you anticipate some of your existing experts retiring soon? Are you doing enough to grow your next generation of leaders?  

Regardless your situation, you have to consider that many factors determine how many lubrication specialists are needed in any given operation, including:

  • Physical size and layout of the plant
  • The type of applications being performed
  • The amount of machinery in action
  • The complexity and accessibility of the machinery

Thus, as outlined below, providing individuals with the relevant training, skills, and development opportunities can help ensure your company’s productivity goals and equipment maintenance programs are overseen by team members who are well-informed about lubrication-related issues.

Stage 1: Basic Knowledge

In order for personnel to effectively implement a maintenance program, they must first have a basic know-how of general lubrication practices, including lube storage and handling, oil analysis, and contamination control.

Lube technicians require weeks of thorough training to develop a comprehensive knowledge base, followed by additional training more specific to their day-to-day responsibilities.

Stage 2: Skill Development and Certification

After undergoing initial training, all lubrication professionals should be given frequent “refresher” courses to keep their skills fine-tuned and up to date with the latest technology and trends in machinery lubrication.

For plant managers to really know that their lube technicians can perform a particular task, they should invest in certification programmes for their employees. Certification ensures that an individual has the knowledge and skills to do their job, while also instilling in them a sense of pride and commitment.

Stage 3: Opportunity to Innovate

Personnel who have had extensive training and education in lubrication maintenance will truly understand the crucial role it plays in machinery operation and failure. Having comprehensive knowledge of lubrication and a detailed understanding of how it works allows technicians to innovate new approaches to recurring problems. They can identify issues and implement solutions because they possess not only the skills and understanding, but also the confidence in their technical knowledge.

How do you provide your lube technicians the training and resources they need to succeed?

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  • While lubricants are only 1% of any maintenance budget, they impact 80% of production machinery.  For that reason, lube technicians are vital to good productivity.  What makes a good lube technician?

    1.  Observation - A willingness to observe and explore how a machine operates.  Get familiar with your equipment!  What makes it work and run smoothly?  If your don't know how something works, ask!  What are the lubrication requirements of a particular machine?  This leads to valueable "experience."

    2.  Training - The Lube Technician must receive formal training in the Fundamentals of Lubrication.  Typically this course ranges in length and detail from 2 hours to two weeks.  I prefer the latter, but this is not always possible.  It is imperative that Lube Tech's understand the jargon, and know how to apply grease and oil.  Seem simple but there are specific ways to lubricate.  Do it wrong, and the machine will let you know.

    3.  Additional Training - Fundamentals of gears, hydraulics, bearings, compressors, engines, turbines, couplings, seals, oil analysis, vivration analysis, are but a few of the courses that must be taken and understood by a Lube Tech.  This course knowledge must be applied over a period of time so the Lube Tech has a chance to relate the knowledge taught in class to on-site equipment.  Two or three years must pass for this applied knowledge to take hold in the mind of a good Lube Tech.

    4.  Certifications - Two most important:

    a.  The is the CLS credential offered by the STLE.  This exam looks at the basics of lubrcation and machine systems, mearuring understanding and comprehension of the systems and the relationships that exist.

    b.  OMA I & II provided by the ICML.  Focuses on oil analysis and its importance with regard to machine operation and lubricant condition.

    Applicants are allowed to take the CLS exam after two years experience in the field, however, I suggest  that the Lube Tech have a 5 years experience, so that they may fully grasp the undertaking.

    Lube Tech's are typically the lowest paid and least experienced personnel in the plant.  It's a dirty and laborious job.  Having inexperienced personnel doing lubrication is a dangerous practice as if done incorrectly, major machinery failure resulting in downtime and productivity loses may occur.   Just a little "off the top" thinking on my part.  Thanks - Rick   

  • It would be the trainings that the service Engineers perform, make them known to the Customer as a plus, be with them monitoring how they make the changes of Oil, their hydraulic systems, operations, the storage of lubricants and what improvements they can have to give a Maintenance and care of lubricants.