The acquisition of knowledge and skills gained through maintenance training certification is an essential ingredient to the success of maintenance management in modern manufacturing and processing industries. Without a doubt, well-trained staff contribute to a safe workplace, allow compliance with legislation and increase profits. The modes that training is delivered vary from in-house to external training and each form of training has its advantages and disadvantages. However, to truly reap the rewards of training, an understanding of the contributing factors that determine training quality is important prior to settling on a mode of delivery.
Standardized methods of obtaining maintenance training certification are best illustrated using the three types of certification processes. The first of the three types of maintenance training certification is first party certification and relies on the individual assessing himself or herself against a set criterion within a given technical discipline (Cole, 2009). For example, typically, internal company training is setup to a first party certification. These maintenance training programs usually, will not involve exams and in the end, maintenance training certification quality relies on the integrity of the individual in determining if competency has been obtained. Although this method has advantages, such as low cost and easy delivery, its susceptibility to abuse and the unknown level of course content usually means industry as a whole gives little weight to such industrial maintenance training certification. Second party maintenance training certification separates the individuals and allows the training providers to deliver, develop and administer the exams. This method of accreditation generally is more resistant to abuse but still relies on the training provider and instructor’s honesty and integrity in providing well trained individuals to the given maintenance training certification level. The last method, third party accreditation separates the training provider and the examination process from both the student and themselves. Distinct to third party accreditation is the separation of the instructor and training organization from the exam or its contents. This can be illustrated by the exam process where, the exams are delivered and returned completed in sealed envelopes, isolated from the instructor and training provider, and marked by a third party. The third party accreditation has been established as a means to deliver a high standard of maintenance training certification that is recognized throughout the world for its ability to deliver uniformed training outcomes.
For example in the condition based monitoring (CBM) industry, qualifications are measured through an accredited certification process and can involve training in either 1st, 2nd or 3rd party certification. CBM techniques are an important and often a mandatory component of all maintenance management models. Organizations should take care when selecting a maintenance training certification model and assess training providers prior to enrollment to verify accreditation and the certification process being delivered. However, most often external training is carried out in a 2nd or 3rd party accreditation process. Moreover, 3rd party accreditation, its robust nature and ease of which it allows compliance to ISO 9000 series standards has gained more credibility throughout many parts of the world than 2nd party accreditation. On the whole, maintenance training certification provides a benchmark for proficiency of condition monitoring techniques for companies and for individuals. Additionally, certification acknowledges expertise and increases the profile of the profession (Cole, 2009). For organizations, maintenance training certification provides confidence in the skills and experience of the condition monitoring technician and the outcomes from analysis techniques. Maintenance training certification is also reflected in many standards such as British Standards Institution, PAS 55-2 and ISO 9000, 9001, 9002, and 9003, all of which not only focus on training of staff as a requirement for compliance but more importantly, explicitly express the importance that competent staff play in meeting corporate objectives. For example, British Standards Institution, PAS 55-1 (p. vii) states an essential element of good enterprise asset management is the: ‘training, awareness and competency,’ of staff. Moreover, ISO 9001 also clearly states that: ‘[p]ersonnel performing work affecting conformity to production requirements shall be competent on the basis of appropriate education, training, skills and experience’ (AS ISO 9001: 2008, p. 6). ISO 18436 and The American Society of Nondestructive Testing (ASNT) are examples of two well-known organizations that have developed standards that outline the training and certification requirements for specific condition monitoring techniques.
ISO 18436: 2, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9 refer to training requirements of condition monitoring techniques. Of which, ISO 18436-4 refers to field lubrication analysis and ISO 18436-7 refers to thermograph. Each of the 18436 standards offers three levels of certification, each progressively more advanced (Mills, 2009). Whereas, ISO 18436- 1, 3 and ISO 17024 deal with accreditation of training and certification providers seeking to train and certify individuals to the above standards. Training and certification in any ISO 18436 classification is based on the 3rd party certification principle and as described above essential to delivering ISO 18436 compliant programs is the accreditation, and auditing of separate training and examination providers (Mills, 2009).
ASNT, training and certification procedures are documented in SNT-TC-1A and individuals can obtain certificates in either a 2nd or 3rd party certification process. In the case of ASNT, 2nd party training and certification the development is based on SNT-TC-1A standards and awarded completely within an employer administered program (ASNT 2005). However, the weakness with second party accreditation has led to some misrepresentation of ASNT’s 2nd party certification and contributed to the deterioration of employer administered accreditation program (Farley, n.d.). In an effort to bolster its’ reputation ASNT now distinguishes between an employer administered program and the ASNT administered and ISO 17024 compliant certification program for level 3 PdM technicians as well as Level 2 and 3 NST technicians (Farley, n.d.).
In the end, all three types of maintenance training certification will be of benefit to maintenance personnel and maintenance outcomes. One on hand, the advantages of first party training’s low cost and delivery platform should be weighed against the uncertain outcomes. On the other hand, more robust forms of maintenance training certification often require staff to go off site but offer higher levels of training certainty to companies. On the whole companies should assess the risk, complexity of the task and the benefits associate with accreditation prior to selecting a training mode.
British Standards Institution 2008, Asset management, (PAS 55-1:2008), BSI, London.
Cole, L 2009, ‘Best practice for personnel certification’, viewed on 2 Sept 2010,
Farley, JM n.d., ‘Best practice in the application of ndt,’ The Qualitative Report, viewed 16 September 2010,
Standards Association of Australia, 2008, Quality management systems-requirements,
(AS/NZ ISO 9001:2008), Standards Australia, North Sydney.
The American Society of NonDestructive Testing, 2005, What’s in a name? ndt training and levels of qualification, viewed 09 September 2009,
Paper first written in November 2010.
Smith Raymond J, 2010. ‘Training and Maintenance’