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Concept and Initial Training

We decided to make the operating shift lean and mean, but having sufficient staff with competencies to be largely self supporting. A 'day' work force would back up the shift, but we designed it to provide a level of support significantly lower than that traditionally found in the industry. The initial idea was that at any one time about 60% of the operators would be operating the plants on 12-hour shifts, 30% of the operators would be attached to maintenance doing necessary maintenance on days, and about 10% would be spare.

To achieve the above, we would train operator-maintainers to be competent in two disciplines:

  • • Operations (panel and/or outside operations)
  • • Maintenance (Mechanical, Instrument, Electrical)

We recruited local staff with five or six years of craft experience backed up by a vocational qualification such as a diploma. The profile of craft backgrounds was roughly 60% mechanical, 25% instruments, and 15% electrical. Only about 25% of the recruits had some operational experience.

Training of the operators consisted of spells at other operating plants, classroom training on specific aspects of the new refinery, simulator training, mentoring under the wing of experienced expatriate operators, and involvement in the start-up. A small group of trainers taught the basics of maintenance and we used on-the-job training to enhance their skills. At every opportunity available, they saw the internals of equipment and participated in the commissioning and overhaul of complex equipment.

A small number of specialist maintenance technicians supplemented this operator-maintainer group. The operator-maintainers received in-depth training in specific aspects of the refinery equipment. They became the source of high level maintenance expertise (along with the engineers).

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