Broken Arrow, OK, USA, December 11, 2023 | The International Council for Machinery Lubrication (ICML) has expanded its badge program with a specialty certification for practitioners in food-grade environments. The Food Processing Lubrication (FPL) badge focuses on the specialized needs and heavily regulated activities within food-grade industries and supply chains.
“With the launch of our new FPL badge, we expect to bring much-needed attention and standardization to food-grade lubrication best practices,” says ICML Executive Director Leslie Fish. “This will help our certified practitioners and their employers meet business goals while maintaining the health and safety of their equipment and their customers.”
ICML rolled out the FPL badge exam in mid-November, following several years of development by a multi-national committee of food-grade experts.
“Our new FPL food-grade badge is the culmination of several years of work by a team of dedicated professionals from various industries,” says ICML Operations Manager Rosania Kloss. “We fully believe that this certification badge will prove to be invaluable for practitioners whose specialized job roles demand diligence and consistency with food-grade lubrication, regardless of industry.”
Lubrication practitioners in food, pharmaceutical, and other industries with food-grade environments regularly face unique challenges with their machine lubricants and lubrication programs in all parts of the supply, manufacturing, and distribution chains. They must contend with numerous regulations, priorities, and practices that are simply not common or necessary in other settings.
The purpose of the FPL badge is to verify that lubrication practitioners are qualified to perform tasks in a variety of areas outlined in the exam’s Body of Knowledge (BOK), such as:
- Identify common food-grade lubricants characteristics and traits
- Understand where the use of different levels of rated lubricants is required
- Apply lubricants in a manner that is conducive to food safety while maintaining and ensuring reliable operation of equipment
- Understand documentation requirements associated with application of food-grade greases
- Comply with local, state, and federal regulations and systems (e.g., HACCP, ISO, FSMA, FDA or similar)
- Select base oils, additives, and thickeners suitable for various controlled and/or hybrid environments
- Inspection and analysis for lubrication effectiveness
Other BOK areas include microbial contamination control, extreme temperature degradation, equipment modifications, inspections, and more.
Who should earn the food-grade badge?
FPL badge certification is practical for individuals performing duties commonly associated with job titles such as Lubrication Technician, Reliability Technician, Reliability Manager, Maintenance Supervisor, Maintenance Lead, Maintenance Technician, Equipment Operator, Operations Manager, Operations Supervisor, Operations Lead, Quality Assurance Technician, Reliability/Maintenance Engineer, and Maintenance Craft.
This food-grade badge can be applied in different sectors. FPL Committee Member Rich Wurzbach, President of MRG Laboratories, notes that the badge is not industry-specific. “If the badge makes sense for a particular industry, [such as] food production, agricultural production, packaging (because the packaging ends up with food in it)…machinery manufacturers…logistics warehouses that handle food product…the whole supply chain process,” then he suggests asking, “who within those companies would be the candidates to sit for this and learn from this?”
“Also, there is the use of food-grade lubricants in pharma,” adds Wurzbach, “so pharma could still recognize the value of someone obtaining this badge without it saying ‘pharma’ in [the name].”
FPL Committee Member Garrett Fitzgerald, Principal Engineer at Eli Lilly and Company, agrees and states, “Anyone working in the life science or food & beverage industry can benefit from this badge. This would include biopharma, pharma, medical devices, and medical industries, and not just those working directly in the sectors but also many support industries.”
FPL Committee Member Roberto Trujillo, Senior Technical Consultant at Noria Latin America, also identifies businesses handling “personal care products [to be among] the most positively impacted by FPL. The high risk they pose make them directly impacted in this specialty.”
Challenges related to maintaining food-grade standards are pervasive across various sectors. As regulatory standards evolve and consumers become increasingly discerning about the products they consume, ensuring the highest standards of food-grade lubrication has become a shared priority. The FPL badge serves as a proactive measure to address these challenges systematically, setting a benchmark for competency and safety in the industry.
Like the VIM and VPR varnish badge exams, the new FPL food-grade exam consists of 25 multiple-choice questions with a maximum duration of 45 minutes. It is available in both online and in-person formats.
See our FPL information tabs to read more about badge requirements, to review the complete BOK, and to see the domain of more than two dozen hyperlinked articles, books, conference proceedings, and CFR documents that were used to build the FPL question bank.
The International Council for Machinery Lubrication (ICML) is a vendor-neutral, not-for-profit organization founded in 2001 to help lubrication practitioners succeed in their professional careers, and to serve global industry as the world-class authority on machinery lubrication that advances the optimization of asset reliability, utilization and costs. ICML is an independently chartered organization consisting of both paid professional staff members and volunteer committees. It is a certification body serving industrial lubrication and oil analysis practitioners worldwide; a technical awards body recognizing companies that excel in oil analysis and machinery lubrication programs; a membership body engaging and promoting individuals and organizations; and a standards body developing the ICML 55® Standard for lubricated asset management. ICML certification exams are administered in accordance with ISO 18436 and are available in multiple languages worldwide.
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