API Pipeline Conference

API Conference Report: The Value of Control Room Team Training Exercises

EnerSys Corporation attended the 2018 API Pipeline Conference and Cybernetics Symposium last month in St. Louis to gather valuable information that we will be pouring into our software and consulting capabilities to support operators.

If you have not already, be sure to listen to my audio report from the conference in Pipeliners Podcast Episode #23 published this week.

For me, the most compelling session during the cybernetics portion of the conference was a discussion of control room team training and how to effectively accomplish team training.

One of the typical operator questions that was addressed during the session was: “Can’t I just do computer-based training (CBT)?” The answer is no — both from a practical perspective and a compliance perspective.

Why Isn’t CBT Enough for Control Room Team Training?

– Practically speaking, computer-based training is limited in its ability to provide sufficient training for pipeline control room personnel. 50+ year industry veteran Charles Alday spoke about this during the API conference and a recent episode of the Pipeliners Podcast.

Instead, operators should focus on team-building activities that place their personnel in scenarios and situations that build decision-making skills for the group, rather than individual pieces of the collection.

– From a compliance standpoint, PHMSA clearly states in their CRM Rule FAQs that CBT training is not enough to satisfy the requirement for team training and exercises:

“Operators may include computer-based (CBT) training, but since the focus is on personnel interaction and teamwork, CBT alone would not be considered sufficient.” — PHMSA FAQs

In fact, PHMSA states that CBT training, classroom training, and on-the-job training are not sufficient on their own. Specific to classroom training, PHMSA states that “classroom training is appropriate, but classroom training alone, without an exercise, would not be considered sufficient.”

For both practical and compliant reasons, effective control room team training requires a dynamic classroom training environment.

How Can Operators Develop a Dynamic Classroom Training Environment?

From my experience, the most dynamic form of classroom training includes these traits:

  • Baseline information in a classroom setting
  • Engagement and conversation with an instructor
  • Interaction and hands-on experience to carry out the information and discussion

However, this type of training is the most expensive to deliver. So, how can operators create a budget-conscious training program that will educate and build competency?

To answer that question, there are three key elements to consider: the jobs to be performed, the competencies required for those jobs, and the training required to build those competencies.

By establishing a framework of what you need to accomplish, you can build the appropriate program that includes tools such as computer-based training to serve as reminders to reinforce the training.

The goal is to achieve affordability and effectiveness, which is often difficult because of the constant tug-and-pull between cost and efficiency. However, this process of developing the right-size training for your operation ties back to an overarching theme of pipeline safety management systems.

Understand the Importance of Your Pipeline Safety Management System

API RP 1173 established the framework for operators to implement Pipeline Safety Management Systems (SMS). A significant part of this recommended practice is the training and competency aspect.

As the pipeline industry moves toward adopting SMS, you need well-defined policies and procedures and well-defined safety training for your personnel.

Additionally, you should consider three elements when selecting an SMS program: the competencies required throughout the operation, the roles required throughout the organization, and how to build those competencies.

To achieve an effective SMS program, you need to consider the role of technology in your operation. As we know, technology is a big part of the conversation right now, especially because it will impact your ability to provide the best training for key roles such as cybersecurity and IT.

To that end, I hope that you take the time to listen to this recent episode of the Pipeliners Podcast with cybersecurity guru Clint Bodungen discussing the role of advanced technology in team training exercises.

How Can EnerSys Support Your Team Training Program?

There were many great conversations about control room team training at the API Pipeline Conference. I certainly walked away from the conference with more information and knowledge that our team is looking forward to pouring back into our software and consulting capabilities.

I would like to continue the conversation with you about supporting your operation, especially complying with PHMSA regulations, implementing team training, and selecting a Safety Management System.

Consider leveraging our Consulting Services to effectively implement programs that comply with regulations and adhere to industry best practices to reliably and safely operate a pipeline control room.

For further discussion, please complete our contact form, email our team at sales@enersyscorp.com, or call us directly at 281-598-7100. I look forward to hearing from you.