Transferring Operator Experience to Future Operators

As members of the generation known as “Baby Boomers” begins to retire, so too does quite a bit of experience among process manufacturers. A recent article entitled Knowledge continuation at your company from ReliabilityWeb.com said it well:

Over the next 10 – 15 years the baby boomers will be leaving the industry in droves. As with every other aspect of their lives they will create a ruckus when they do so!
In this case they will be taking out a large amount of the experience, knowledge and skills that they have built up over a lifetime.

A study by the American Petroleum Institute indicated that experienced operators can have a positive financial impact of $350,000 USD per year, per operator, over less experienced, average performing operators. These improvements come from the ability to understand the patterns in the process which can lead to unscheduled downtime, to diagnose these, and to take action before the shutdown occurs. Also, experienced operators can take corrective actions before the product being produced goes out of specification which can create waste and/or rework.
You may remember Jeff Hackney, DeltaV OTS Project Manager in our Educational Services organization from an earlier post.
Jeff had a great perspective when I ran the ReliabilityWeb story by him. I’ll not attempt to improve on his words:

Just like families today struggle to pass on their lineage and family history every industry faces the challenge of conveying the knowledge of their experienced work force to those who will replace them.
Some may have learned to avoid the Aunt who pinched your cheek or laid a red lip stick kiss on your cheek through first hand experience and embarrassment but if you were lucky you had an Uncle or older cousin warn you ahead of time.
Experienced operators are no different in that they have acquired a unique perspective on their processes and honed the actions required or warranted for specific process conditions. A key attribute of a training program is not only its ability to distribute new data to students efficiently and effectively but to also facilitate the transfer of knowledge from experienced to novice operators.
DeltaV OTS is an excellent tool that is part of a complete training program that not only introduces new operators to their process and operational environment but serves as an identical plant platform experienced operators can convey “tricks-of-the-trade” the “new guy” may not have been exposed to while under the wing of the experienced operator during operational system indoctrination.
As we all know, the operational system can’t be forced toward a trip condition to facilitate showing the new guy how to recognize, respond and correct the condition before the trip occurs. DeltaV OTS provides that identical system to maximize the training effort and transfer of knowledge.

Well said, Jeff!

Posted Tuesday, June 27th, 2006 under Operator Training.

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