CoatingsPro Magazine

MAY 2018

CoatingsPro offers an in-depth look at coatings based on case studies, successful business operation, new products, industry news, and the safe and profitable use of coatings and equipment.

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90 MAY 2018 COATINGSPROMAG.COM Industry Insight U ntil recently, engineer- ing education has been markedly lacking in one body of knowledge, namely the training in how to evalu- ate and maintain existing structures. Graduating engineers are exiting universities with the skills to design new structures, but they are often called upon for much more: to assess, inspect, evaluate, and design repairs, remediation, or upgrades to existing structures in their jobs. Such structures may carry highly flammable, corrosive, toxic, or reactive chemicals, gases, or liquids. e struc- tures could be pipelines, refineries, or tanks of various types, including fuels, water, or maybe food grade additives. ey could be bridges, buildings, sewers, or stadiums. e list goes on and on, and each item inspected has its own unique maintenance challenges. Now, the education gap is being filled by industr y associations such as NACE International (NACE), the Society for Protective Coatings (SSPC), the A merican Petroleum Institute (API), the A merican Welding Society (AWS), the A merican Concrete Institute (ACI), and others. T hese training and certification programs provide certifications to verif y that a certain level of knowledge is imparted to the student through testing, often both written and practical. One requirement of these programs is also verification of experience. Back when these programs started, completion of the first levels allowed increased employ ment opportunities. But the bar has risen. Over time, customers demanded higher certification levels in order for inspectors to be qualified to work on their projects. Additionally, many of the job demands require overlapping knowledge from these various training programs. For instance, as required by the Code of Federal Regulations, ever y time a gas line is exposed, it must be inspected by a qualified individual. T he assessment may require skills, including mechanical integrity, coatings inspection, and the ability to recognize abnormal operating conditions (aka unsafe conditions), in conjunction w ith a healthy dose of identif y ing signs of active cathodic protection (AC) interference. In short, multiple skills are needed to diagnose the problem. W hen is it enough? Lifelong Learning Learning is a lifelong endeavor. I had a supervisor once ask me, "Don't you have enough certifications?" and my polite response was, "Heck, no!" ere is always more to learn. One trend in the industry we are seeing is the requirement for inspec- tion personnel to be able to do multiple things. e coatings inspector does double duty as a weld inspector, the weld inspector covers as the safety person, and on and on. Customers are no longer willing to pay for two specialized inspec- tors; they are looking for persons with the diverse knowledge and skill sets to handle multiple things. Unfortunately, it may not pay you more, but that is the competitive race we are in. e key is that when it comes to increasing your skills, it is never enough. e trend is clear: Multifunction employees are here to stay. So how do you stay on top? A Fork in the Road W hen an opportunity arises to learn more, take it. And take it every chance you get. Lunch N' Learns are a beautiful thing. ey're not exactly free because you need to sit through the presenting companies' information on a product or service, but even then, there will be a nugget or sliver of information that makes you better in your methods, practices, routines, or business strat- egies. Don't think for a minute that these same presenters are not pitching to your competitors. Invite them in, come one, come all. e only thing it might hurt is your waistline. A hallmark of truly great compa- nies is that they promote learning, and they take it seriously. T he great ones make getting additional training part of the employee's annual evalu- ation. T he employee's bonus depends on development of additional skills. Global economies allow persons to compete w ith other qualified individu- als half a world away. Even if your company doesn't encourage a learning environment, you can take the lead for yourself. A lways remember: Knowledge is the one thing that you can always take with you. A lways sharpen the ax. CP Photo courtesy of the author By David Hunter, Senior Project Manager for Pond and Company Education and Minding the Gaps

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