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Except for the instrument operation training available from the manufacturers of the equipment (similar as for ICP, ICP/MS, GC/MS, etc.), or in-house (better say in-lab) training, I did not hear of any other way to gain any kind of credible certificate. Anyway, even if there is some course of that type out there, it would not necessarily make you an expert. Only after hundreds and hundreds of analyzed and interpreted ferrograms you may be able to gain respect from peers and customers alike and be regarded as an expert. This is simple my opinion based on the experience ad observations while working in labs.
For quite some time I had similar thoughts. For example, I have seen a title Lubrication Engineer used quite frequently. I became interested in possibly obtaining such title, but was not able to find any educational institution that offers such degree. To my understanding, this “title” could be obtained (or earned) only from within the organization one is employed at (e.g. oil companies, additives manufacturers, etc.).
Unfortunately, I don't know the answer to your question. However, you seem to be seriously interested in this segment of science, which is absolutely commendable. If that is the case and if there are no labs in your area where you can get some practical experience, than you may consider an outright purchase of new or a used instrument, and build/perfect the knowledge base by combining studying of available literature and the practical aspect. Another avenue would be to contact manufacturers of these instruments, as they may have some classes available for current and/or future customers (introductory and/or advance classes). I think that the experience (at some point) of running an instrument is a significant factor in one’s ability to evaluate the results and make sound and appropriate recommendations that client can “take it to the bank”.
Sorry, I'm not familiar with marketing issues. All I know that the ferrography analysis is or could be very useful for some end users. However, I also think that it is more likely that well educated folks in lube issues in a supportive companies request ferrography on more of a regular basis, unlike the folks with a marginal lubrication/metallurgy knowledge. The puzzle you'll have to solve is how to reach the right people/companies.
Some customers' sole reliance on analyses offered by suppliers of equipment and/or lubricants may pose a hurdle, but I am convinced that the majority of end users value and prefer using independent labs for testing and evaluation of their lubricants. Some of the reasons for such practice are minimizing/elimination of a possible bias, and the fact that independent labs in general provide wider range of tests (“one-stop shopping“) where sub-sampling and testing at yet another different lab is not a necessity.
Well, I have made contact with hundreds of companies to promote this service and many of the clients say that the oil supplier does the job for free or at low cost and it is difficult to convince them.
On the other hand do you consider important to have good knowledge of lubrication systems and of industrial machines to be a ferrography service provider?
Absolutely! Familiarity with the metallurgy of the equipment will make your evaluations and the consequent recommendations more accurate and credible, as you would be able to almost pinpoint the area that needs attention. Sometimes it may require a visit to a plant, because having knowledge of every piece of machinery out there may be too challenging for one person. However, IMHO, this is the crucial area that separates skilled analyst from an expert.
My worries for now go to becoming a skilfull ferrographer, who can provide a valid diagnosis on machine and fluid health based on the results. Is this possible to get with out a supervisor? The only ferrographer that I know who I can disscuss the results with are the labs in USA and in South America and I am from Portugal.
Duarte, will your samples come from many customers and many machines, or are you supporting only your employer's systems? It would be best for you just to monitor the same few machines for several months to gain experience.

If your employer expects you to, or you hope to, become an instant expert then this is an unreasonable expectation--I hope you understand this from John's and my comments.
This is a commercial lab to provide oil analysis service for outside customers. I am at the ferrography lab, but there is another lab located about 50kms from here(from the same company)to where I send the oil samples from the customers to perform the physical tests. It doesn´t make much sense these two labs being separated but the other provides plane assistance (and is located near the planes) and was born first. Maybe in the future these two labs join and become only one.
Now, can you recommend any books to become familiar with machine and lubrication systems,and thus contribute to ferrography knowledge and diagnosis or do you think that would be worthless, because being too thoretical?
I already have the atlas, it came along with the instruments purchase and I also read it, but still it is not enough to be a good ferrographer (interpretaion experience is a must),it is just a document to support us and an introduction to the technique. I would like to know how important it is to have a good knowledge about industrial machines and lubrication systems in order to make a reliable diagnosis and recommendations based on the ferrography and on the other oil analysis results, because I´m not very familiar with mechanical systems. Another issue is the best strategy to attract clients, since most of them have ther oil suppliers doing the tests for free or at a low price.

As about the plane, they do mostly fuels analysis and now oil analysis of industrial clients that I provide.
Yes, Duarte, as John said a few posts ago it is essential to have "good knowledge" about the mechanical and lubricating systems of the machines you're analyzing. A ferrography lab report is expected to tell the customer what specific machine parts are likely being affected by the detected wear, not just what kind of wear is present and relative severity.

It will be tough for you to compete now with free/low cost suppliers since without superior diagnostic skills and/or superior reporting there will be no reason for customers to pay more to change vendors.
I have the atlas, I will attend a Noria oil analysis course (I and II), I will send ferrograms and oil analysis results to outside labs to compare the results with mine and thus improve my diagnosis skills. What else should I possible do to gain knowledge and competencies in order to become skilfull enough and compete with the vendors? Is there a realistic way?

Thanks John and Mark for the hints.
The last sentence from “msmith” may seem discouraging to you, but it is absolutely correct, and above all very realistic and honest way to give you the friendliest warning that there is.
To become a “skillful enough” ferrologist (if I may loosely use this term) is a relative term. The only folks that can attest to that will be your customers. And they will respect you (or not) based on what kind of service you will provide to them. Because, in this business it’s all about customer satisfaction no matter what one thinks of his/hers knowledge base.
Plan to find out in advance when one of the systems you are working with / hope to work with is going to be physically inspected. Run a ferrogram before the inspection, then be on site for the inspection.

Classroom training is valuable, but there's no substitute for on-site experience--and learning through a "house call" can become a great advertisement as the word gets around.
Should this ferrogram be acompannied by other oil analysis tests? Can ferrography survive as a lab service without other oil analysis tests? The promotion of this service should be more focused in ferrography with a slight reference to the other oil analysis tests or about oil analysis tests with a deep reference to ferrography? This is because the other oil tests are in another lab and I am the responsible for ferrography and if I could provide ferrography as an unique service and send samples to the other lab once in a while as the wish of some clients, that would be great.

As a long time end user of oil analysis services, I would not use ferrography for routine samples. It tells me nothing about the condition of the lubricant and is not easily trendable. I use analytical ferrography when routine oil analysis indicates that further investigation is required.

As other people have said, knowledge of equipment operation and failure modes is essential. The results of ferrrography should be able to point out causes of problems, not just report size and shape of particulates.

Ken Culverson
attend Reliable Plant 2024
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