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Getting our Operator Numbers

In a production type of business we always have operators. So let us start with them. We discount shift patterns, spare operators, and such, and ask how many operators do we need for the minimum staffing? You can do this the hard way by building blocks and equipment counts. Usually the data base needed will be proprietary and you will need to hire a consultant to gain access to it.

You can, however, get a good feel for the operator numbers needed by getting together a few knowledgeable people. Putting some outsiders in the team is always a good idea. It may not provide a very elegant approach but it gives a reasonable answer and, at least, site involvement will bring some buy-in.

Another way to cross check and validate staffing numbers in the production area is from approaches such as the following. In a production process with local control panels, a panel operator would typically control about 50 instrument loops. When digital control systems and central control rooms hit the scene, this leaps to about 200. Now in a state-of-the-art control system, we can get one panel operator looking after 400 control loops. For a middle of the road DCS in a control room, you need one panel operator and one and a bit outside operators for every 200 control valves. The good news is that these valves are very easy to count. They don't hide and they don't breed. This of course only impacts the operators at the heart of the production process.

ACTIVITY

TRADE

% man power

Mechanical

4

Management

&

Civil

1

Supervision

Electrical

1

Instrumentation

1

Mechanical

40

Hands-on

Tools

Civil

13

Labor

Electrical

6

Instrumentation

10

Cleaning, waste disposal

10

Inspection (mechanical & civil)

4

Planning & Scheduling

3

Plant Changes

3

Office Engineering & Advisory (drawings, library, rotating, corrosion, DCS specialists)

4

Table 9.2 Typical Staffing Distribution in a Refinery

There are other operators involved in many other activities and we have to make provisions for their numbers.

Once you have your base case minimum number, you add in spares to cope with reality.

 
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