ABB Power Services

Our aim is to increase systems reliability and extend the life of their equipment with concomitant gains for our customers’ competitiveness. We support our customers with high-quality services in preventive and corrective maintenance to improve risk mitigation and improved safety. ABB's service portfolio allows utilities and industrials to maximizing the return on all assets by ensuring a high reliability, reducing life cycle costs and ensuring optimized performance while lowering environmental impact.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Five Reasons to Train High Voltage Technicians

High Voltage Training is a worthwhile investment, particularly as the knowledge base changes within organizations.



1. Increased employee effectiveness

Properly trained technicians are faster with several essential job functions, including: troubleshooting, general diagnostics, and overall maintenance procedures (from gas testing to major maintenance).  This saves precious time (and money) during a planned or emergency outage.

2. Increased ability to integrate new technologies

Training from the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) is the best way to learn about new products features, as well as updates and upgrades to existing products and their features.  Keeping up with new technology is difficult.  Another advantage of training is learning about new technology while brushing up on maintenance skills at the same time.

3. Improved Safety

Working with the same equipment every day can lead to complacency in some cases.  Training re-instills the care that must be taken with high voltage equipment to decrease and hopefully remove the risk of injury.   Specific care must be taken with the handling of SF6 gas, SF6 by-products found inside a breaker tank, mechanisms and their stored energy, pressurized porcelain bushings, stored/static electricity in overhead lines, line to ground capacitors, grading capacitors, control circuits, and following of isolation and grounding procedures of high voltage equipment.  There is personnel, equipment, and environmental risk involved when performing any type of maintenance or related activity.

4. Investing in employees pays dividends

Respected, well-trained employees boost morale, and improved morale boots retention.  Hiring and on-boarding is a laborious and expensive task.  A happy workforce is a productive workforce.  In short, training pays for itself in cost savings.

5. Organizations are losing tribal knowledge – quickly

Perhaps the most important and urgent reason to train today is the changing employee demographic pool – approximately 36% of employees (from lineworkers to engineers) are eligible to retire in the next three to five years.  See the Table 1 below for a more detailed view of what the industry is facing over the next five years.

Table 1
Potential Replacements
2015-2020

Job Category
Potential Retirement
Estimated Number of Replacements
Line Workers
15%
10,300
Technicians
19%
13,500
Plant Operators
17%
5,800
Engineers
15%
4,100
Total*
16%
33,700
*Totals Exclude Nuclear
Table 1: Source: CEWD (Center for Energy Workforce Development)


Most retirements and attritions have a 1:1 replacement ratio.  Each employee most be replaced with one new employee. 

What options are available?

OEM’s often provide training on the equipment used by utilities.  For example, ABB High Voltage Service holds two training courses per month, on average, for high voltage circuit breakers.  According to Art Schultz, ABB training coordinator, “At a time when utilities are aiming to get the most value from their O&M budgets, training is viewed as a highly effective resource.”  ABB’s courses are a combination of classroom and hands on learning held either at the ABB factory or the customer site.

With on-site instruction, you can avoid the costly travel expenses associated with sending a large group of people and maximize the number of participants. Training tools, such as interrupter models and operating mechanisms, can be shipped to site for hands on demonstration.

Factory training at ABB features a fully equipped classroom and training lab, complete with several fully-functional training circuit breakers, interrupter models, and operating mechanisms.

Another option is to combine a maintenance cycle with training.  Maintenance budgets are optimized when training is included with scheduled field maintenance.  Maintenance will take slightly longer as each step is explained, however, it is more efficient than one week of training, and one week of maintenance, for instance.

For entities with a large fleet, it may be well worth it to invest in an on-site training center.  For example, one Mid-Atlantic utility has a training center for technicians where high voltage equipment is brought in the week prior, a maintenance procedure is practiced/trained on, then it is done in the field the following week.  Training tools such as the training breaker pictured below may be easily developed to aid in learning.



Finally, some utilities are partnering with community colleges to develop talent and fill the looming gap they see coming soon with retirements.

High voltage training is a worthwhile investment, particularly as the knowledge base changes within organizations.  Click here for more information on highvoltage training.

9 comments:

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