@GSRMS: Undertrained Operators Lead To Costly Repairs, Downtime

By DJ Slater25 April 2018

It’s not uncommon for plant operators in the oil and gas industry to be undertrained, a fact that can cost companies thousands of dollars in repairs and overhauls.

Julien LeBleu, instructor and consultant for Sage Technologies, presented that perspective in a nearly four-hour short course at the Gulf South Rotating Machinery Symposium (GSRMS).

While operators are trained on specific tasks and job functions, many lack the capabilities to troubleshoot common problems and often don’t fully understand how all of a plant’s equipment works. This knowledge gap creates a plethora of expensive, albeit avoidable problems, LeBleu said.

“Managers need to train their operators on the equipment,” LeBleu said. “They need to teach them how to troubleshoot and need to discipline their operators properly when mistakes happen.”

LeBleu’s presentation reviewed all the knowledge that a typical operator should have, including how compressors and other rotating equipment operate, how to use maintenance equipment (infrared guns and vibration tools) and know equipment limitations and variables, such as vibration levels and oil temperatures.

“This seems like common sense stuff, but if you don’t tell them (operators) and teach them, they’ll never know this information,” he said, adding that education alone won’t do it. Managers need to always be training and teaching their operators whenever the opportunities are there. “You don’t get the benefits of training if you don’t act on it.”

Through his presentation, LeBleu asked questions of the audience to solicit common sense responses. He also shared several horror stories of the perils of having undertrained operators making major decisions.

LeBleu’s presentation, “The Cost of Undertrained Plant Operators,” was one of four short courses Tuesday at the GSRMS. Additional training offerings included:

– Predictive Maintenance (PDM) Awareness Training by Allen Bailey of IVC Technologies.

– What’s in the Bottle? Engine Oil Components and Functions by Fred Girshick of Infienum USA, L.P.

– Gas Turbine Performance (Measuring, Monitoring, Maintaining and Maximizing) by John Peterson of BASF.

– A Tutorial and Case Studies on Re-Purposing Reciprocating Compressors by Christean Kapp of CompMaster LLC.

– Lubrication Best Practices by Randall Tyson of Total Specialties USA.

– Optimizing Your Ignition System for Combustion Stability by Kenneth Swilley of Sulzer Turbo Services New Orleans.

– Navigating Through Ethical Dilemmas In Our Business Environment by Norm Shade of ACI Services.

– Asset Performance Management Systems for Reciprocating Compressors and Engines by Alison Mackey of Baker Hughes, a GE Company.

– Advantages of Annual Critical Pump Field Testing by Ralph Richard of ProPump Services.

– High Performance Coatings in Turbomachinery Applications by David Cato of SPG Surface Technologies, LLC.

– Vibration Issues in Rotating Machinery Piping Systems by Eugene “Buddy” Broerman of Southwest Research Institute (SwRI).

The 35th GSRMS is being held in Baton Rouge, La.


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