Ever since the MLE (Machinery Lubrication Engineer) exam was launched in April 2019, I was intrigued by it! It provided a certification where the dynamic duo of reliability and asset managers could be combined and infused with elements of lubrication and oil analysis. The perfect combination! However, since its launch, there have only been a couple of public sittings where the exam has bene conducted. Unfortunately for me, this would have required me to travel to the US for at least a week and run my business remotely. Every session that was announced directly clashed with my schedule and it was almost impossible for me to attend a session that didn’t clash with my crazy schedule.
Enter the C-19 pandemic that we’ve been facing that began in March 2020 (for us in Trinidad when our borders were closed). This pandemic caused (some much needed) downtime for all of us and helped to revolutionize the industry by allowing advancements in technology to finally be accepted. During the downtime, I decided to start studying for the MLE Exam with 5th Order Industry LLC. What a surprise, I had in store for me! After starting the course, I realized, I knew nothing about lubrication in the past! It was a definite eye opener and made me aware of the number of elements that I took for granted during my entire lubrication career.
Michael Holloway CRL, LLA (I,II), MLT (I,II), MLA (I,II, III), OMA, CLS, MLE was a great teacher and offered me assistance in all the areas in which I was unclear. He was also extremely responsive to all of questions at weird hours of the day when I got the time to study for the exam. His guidance was paramount to me achieving the MLE certification! The flexibility of On Demand modules allowed me to learn at my own pace and ensure that I understood each area before moving on to the next. The unique style of the delivery of the class really ensured that I benefitted from the bulk of the information provided as it allowed me to apply the knowledge in real life practical situations.
What exactly is the MLE?
The MLE exam was launched in April, 2019 along with the ICML 55.1 standard. Part 1 of the ICML 55 standard speaks to Asset Management, requirements for Optimized Lubrication of Mechanical Physical Assets. The MLE was mapped to this ICML 55.1 standard. This allows personnel within organizations who are studying for this exam to become more prepared for eventually attaining the ISO 55001 certification for their organization. The ICML 55.1 standard was drafted using the ISO 55001 as a guide however the 55.1 standard fills the gap with specific requirements and guidelines to establish, implement, maintain and improve consistent lubrication management systems and activities.
The 24 areas for the BoK include:
- Asset Management, ISO 55001 & ICML 55; Basic Elements (3%)
- Machine Reliability; Basic Elements (5%)
- Machine Maintenance; Basic Elements (5%)
- Condition-based Maintenance; Basic Elements (5%)
- Tribology, Friction, Wear and Lubrication Fundamentals; Basic Elements (5%)
- Lubricant Formulation for Machine Types to achieve Optimum Reliability, Energy Consumption, Safety and Environmental Protection; Basic Elements (5%)
- Job and Task Based Skills / Training related to Lubrication and Reliability by User Organizations (4%)
- Lubrication Support Facilities needed in Plants and Work Sites (3%)
- Risk Management for Lubricated Machines; Basic Elements (4%)
- Optimum Machine Modifications and Features Needed to Achieve and Sustain Reliability Goals (5%)
- Lubricant Selection for Optimum Reliability, Safety, Energy Consumption and Environmental Protection based on Machine Type and Application (4%)
- Lubrication related Planning, Scheduling and Work Processing (4%)
- Periodic Lubrication Maintenance Tasks (4%)
- Inspection of Lubricated Machines for Optimum Reliability, Safety, Environmental Protection and Condition Monitoring (5%)
- Lubricant Analysis and Condition Monitoring for Optimum Reliability Objectives (8%)
- Fault/Failure Troubleshooting, Root Cause Analysis (RCA) and Remediation (5%)
- Supplier Compliance / Alignment and Procurement of Services and Products (3%)
- Waste and Used Lubricant Management and Environmental Compliance (3%)
- Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection (3%)
- Health and Safety (3%)
- Oil Reclamation, Decontamination, De-varnishing & Additive Reconstruction (3%)
- Lubrication during Standby, Storage and Commissioning (2%)
- Program Metrics (5%)
- Continuous Improvement (4%)
As per ICML, candidates require at least 5 years education (post-secondary) or On-the-Job training in one or more of the following fields: Engineering, Mechanical Maintenance, Maintenance Trades, Lubrication, Oil Analysis and / or Condition Monitoring (Mechanical Machinery).
There are no prerequisites of an Engineering Degree or prior ICML certifications to attain the MLE certification. However, there are overlaps in the BoKs for the MLA & MLT exams that would prove useful in preparing for the MLE exam.
Scheduling the Exam
Once I completed the course from 5th Order Industry, I was awarded my Certificate of Completion which stated that I had achieved the required 40 hours of preparation for the exam. Looking back on it now, I spent a lot more than 40 hours preparing for the exam! In addition to completing the courses online, I started reading documents, manuals and books all outlined in the Domain of Knowledge (mentioned above).
In essence, it took me approximately 3 and a half months to fully prepare for this exam! It’s such a lengthy time span since I was studying at my own pace which the On Demand modules allowed me to do and I wanted to make certain that I was ready! After completing the online courses, it took me an additional week to schedule my exam as I had to make sure that there would be no urgent order of business during my 4 hour isolation and that I had reviewed at least 5 times the material covered!
To schedule the exam, one has to go to the ICML site. Then choose the mode of delivery (I chose Online of course and not Paper based). The site then allows you to choose the exam that you are applying for while giving you the guidelines that are specific to the exam type chosen (Online or Paper Based). For the Online sessions, they allow the candidates to verify whether their computer meets the requirements by clicking on some links provided.
After the exam type is selected, the candidate is moved to another page where they are required to provide some confirmations and upload their training certificate from one of the approved training providers. After submitting this information, the candidate is then directed to another page to fill out their profile information and make payment. An email will be received with the receipt from ICML. Afterwards, you will receive another email from Examity providing a link to fill out your profile and schedule your exam.
The MLE exam spans a duration of 4 hours. These can pass in the blink of an eye in the exam room! For the exam, be sure to login at least 15 minutes before the scheduled time of your exam. Bring along a form of National Identification (ensure that the expiry date is on the same side as your picture). In my case, my National ID card has my picture on one side and all the details on the other side. The Proctor had to ask me for another form of ID and since my Passport had expired (the renewal date passed during the Quarantine Period!), I had to use my Driver’s permit which was upstairs! It took a bit of shuffling around (frantically, I’ll say!) but the Proctor was able to use my Driver’s permit after I retrieved it.
The desk area must be clean with no additional items. The only items on my desk were my 2 forms of ID. The Proctor will ask to view the entire room and ensure that all doors are closed. There is no need to walk with a calculator as one will be available in the virtual exam room on the screen as well as other tools that may be required. For this exam, you just need to walk with your brain, selection skills and your virtual knowledge base! The exam allows candidates to flag questions that they are unsure about and come back to them at a later time (which was absolutely terrific for me)!
After completing the exam, the candidate has to inform the Procter that they have finished and then submit their answers. Thereafter begins the dreaded wait for the results! To my surprise, I got these results in two days after completing the exam! I can tell you, there was a lot of hesitation before opening that email! The email contained the results (yes I did pass! Yay!) and the score for each of the 24 sections of the exam.
At the time of writing this article, I am the first MLE in the entire Caribbean (I had to check twice to make sure)! I would highly recommend the MLE exam for lubrication professionals who want to challenge themselves and personnel within the reliability and asset management sectors who have a passion for lubrication. It is a wonderful exam and the knowledge that it will expose you to will be phenomenal!