When it Comes to Process Control Training – Virtually Everyone Has Something to Gain
No surprise, as the demographics of industrial automation continue to shift a graying workforce is giving way to a younger, greener one. More and more staff are retiring just as the “automation oracles” predicted. In tandem with that trend investments in training and skills development are recovering from previously reduced, recessionary levels. With those budgets being restored some somewhat surprising questions keep popping up: How should process manufacturers apply their newly reinstated funds? Who should attend?
Regardless of the subject matter there are a few essential elements of a good training course. Topping the list is instructors that possess the right credentials. Those should include years of relevant industrial experience as well as the Barnum & Bailey factor, the ability to capture the attention of a classroom and to meaningfully engage each attendee. Another important aspect is the curriculum itself. Classes should be more workshop than lecture. Tactile learning methods, the hands-on and interactive approach to education – maximize the retention of new knowledge. A third component is customization. The instructor and curriculum must be flexible enough to address the unique needs of students. They’re paying the cost of freight, so the course better deliver the goods.
The typical production facility has numerous staff that could benefit from Process Control training. When thinking about who to include, consider the following:
- University Graduates
Only a small percentage of students graduate with exposure to Process Control and the PID. Those courses are generally limited to the Chemical Engineering discipline. For new hires and future process engineers a basic understanding of dynamics and control strategies is essential. A little industrial training help a novice to avoid silly, and costly, mistakes.
- Transitioning Staff
Promotions and lateral moves often place staff in unfamiliar territory. Although qualified for the position they may lack either the classroom exposure and/or the hands-on experience to perform their jobs effectively. Access to appropriate training can produce significant dividends in terms of improved control loop performance.
- Experienced Practitioners
Veteran staff are constantly learning new information. Unfortunately they’re often forgetting older insights at the same time. A simple refresher on proven techniques and best-practices can go a long way towards maintaining optimal PID control.
No matter what control technologies are employed, a Honeywell Experion or Emerson DeltaV DCS, a Siemens PCS7 or Schneider Modicon PLC, you name it, it’s important for production and engineering staff to know how to leverage them to maintain safe, profitable operations. Now that training budgets have been restored there’s an opportunity to enroll staff in courses and equip those staff to achieve their full potential.