The natural gas transmission industry proves gathering new skills and leveraging the experience of an older generation is an essential business practice for operators. There are 1,782 Cooper Bessemer© engines operating in the North American pipeline system, with their average startup date being August, 1961… 57 years ago.

These engines form the backbone of our natural gas transmission infrastructure. Obviously, there is a lot of mature equipment in use today where the operating parameters for these machines have changed since they were first commissioned. They occasionally need attention from engineers, mechanics and field personnel to keep them running at optimal performance levels.

The critical question to station and facility operators is: How do operators train a 25-year-old mechanic to safely work on equipment that is over twice his age?

For every company in this space, employee training should be a continuous process; from the initial point of starting with a company, learning new skills is an essential part of personal development. As an employee gains more expertise, their role changes as they become the mentor to the next generation and the cycle continues. Today, the number of mentors available is diminishing rapidly, putting more pressure on operators to invest in training their employees.

Employee Investment

Investing in a comprehensive training program is very important for maintaining a high standard of personnel competence that will benefit customers as well individual members of the team. The cost for equipment down-time is potentially far greater than the cost of training the facility engineers or service technicians.

Big engines like the GE-Cooper Bessemer© pictured here have been driving gas compression for many, many years. The engineers and technicians for these machines need to be problem solvers, prepared and trained to demonstrate troubleshooting skills while safely operating and maintaining mechanical drive engines, controls, generators and ancillary equipment.

RTS’ course topics listed below are custom designed for each customer regarding their specific equipment. RTS’ trainers prepare for intermediate to advanced level students. Designed by our experienced training personnel and in-house subject matter experts, these courses provide an excellent means to quickly train your operators and mechanics in established maintenance best practices and operational strategies.

Key Course Topics

  • Compressor Selection
  • Theory of Operation
  • Compressor Operation
  • Compressor Cylinder Assembly
  • Frame Assemblies and Compressor Configurations
  • Compression Process
  • Cooling and Lubrication
  • Capacity Control
  • Performance & Design Calculations
  • Case Studies and Compressor Applications

Improving Professional Standards

It is important that throughout their employment, employees are offered both internal and external training in specialized maintenance and operational topics that can help both the employee and the company improve the breadth of their expertise. RTS encourages ‘hands-on’ training applied to as many different specific disciplines as possible. Compression facilities have many specialist activities such as:

  • Plant Management
  • Maintenance
  • Purchasing
  • Engineering
  • Environmental
  • Health & Safety
  • Utilities

Each of these jobs’ functions are important, but other skills such as communication, ethics and quality management should also be addressed with every trainee.

Capturing Expertise

An employee’s value to the company increases as they gain more experience, not only for the expertise they can deliver, but because the knowledge they possess can be shared with less experienced employees. Capturing knowledge and experience within an organization is essential to delivering a high quality and effective service, even when the most qualified personnel succumb to retirement.

Recording details of procedures and engineering analysis in a database ensures accurate customer records as well as retains essential information that can be used to improve company procedures. In addition, procedures and manuals for performing various engineering tasks will also be used to train up-coming employees. However, the most valuable projects, in terms of new information, are those that pose a unique challenge or require an innovative solution. Gathering this data and creating a forum in which it can be passed on to others working in a similar field is very important in improving the efficiency of future projects.

Improving Technical Knowledge

Training can be tailored to suit the needs of individual customers and their equipment, allowing them to make cost-effective investments in their staff. As one of the leading service companies for reciprocating engines and compressors, RTS can provide training courses aimed at inhouse mechanics and field techs who are involved in the daily operation and maintenance of reciprocating equipment.

The aim of these courses is to enhance the competencies of the trainees, enabling them to improve productivity and reduce downtime. Depending on the roles of the trainees, courses can look at theoretical principles along with the design and operational characteristics of reciprocating equipment. This can lead to a better understanding of how to specify a machine correctly, which in turn will ensure the equipment is operating efficiently and reliably. Training on the most suitable predictive maintenance techniques can provide simple techniques for reducing downtime and maximizing productivity.

Potential Curricula

  • Maintenance Best Practices
  • Changes in maintenance cycles
  • Combustion
  • Operational considerations for operating low speed integrals on shale gas.
  • Engine balancing basics
  • Fugitive gas emissions reduction options
  • Life extension options for mature engines being pressed back into service
  • Bearing Maintenance
  • Block and crank repair techniques
  • Controls operation

Sharing The Wealth

RTS has a wealth of knowledge in reciprocating technology, and is in a position to train both engineers and internal staff. Ultimately, a company that believes in supporting its staff and improving their knowledge will benefit from a more skilled workforce and a more productive working environment.