Grease Industry Gets Its Own Credential


Greases constitute a small and sometimes neglected corner of the lubricants industry. But that corner is not too small, apparently, to warrant a means of identifying individuals who know their way around it.

NLGI International (formerly the National Lubricating Grease Institute) recently adopted a certification program aimed at identifying professionals with expertise in the industry. The program includes an exam and offers the credential Certified Lubricating Grease Specialist.

Professional certifications have beenavailable to lube experts,such asthe Certified Lubrication Specialist program administered by the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers. That program covers some ground that pertained to greases, but NLGI officials decided 18 months ago to develop a program devoted exclusively to grease.

There are other certification programs in the lubricant industry, like the CLS, said Sandra Cowan of Citgo Petroleum Corp., NLGIs treasurer and chairwoman of the CLGS Committee. But the exams that are out there dont deal with grease specifically. And in the United States, we dont have a degree that is grease-specific.

As a result, if you are an [original equipment manufacturer] looking for someone to make a grease for your equipment, there is nothing that you can look at to tell you who knows how to do that. If youre an employer looking to hire someone who knows about grease, there is no credential that you can look for to judge who is qualified.

Annual grease demand in the United States is upwards of 520 million pounds, accounting for approximately 2 percent by volume of the broader lubricant market. But NLGI officials say there is no lack of things to know about the market.

Grease is the one area of the lubricants market where the manufacturing process involves a chemical reaction, Cowan said. Youre not just mixing oil and additives. And you dont have product categories as in the case of motor oils, so you cant just look at the letters on a label and know what product to use.

Its an interesting area in that you can spend your entire career in it and still not know everything.

The institutes exam consists of 120 questions covering subjects ranging from manufacturing to testing to regulations. A score of 80 percent is required to pass, and recertification will be required every three years. The organization will offer the exam for the first time on Nov. 1 at its annual meeting in San Antonio. In the future, officials plan to offer it at every annual meetingplus at least one other location during the year.

The institute, which is based in Kansas City, Mo., will charge a fee of $200 for individuals employed by member companies, $250 for those who are not. Additional information regarding this program is available at or by phoning NLGIs headquarters at (816) 931-9480.

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