Comprehensive Training Prepares Kuwaitis to Take Over Refinery

Workforce Effectiveness Begins With an Assessment of the Customer's Unique Needs

By Paul Studebaker

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Kuwaitis have traditionally subcontracted much of their maintenance and operations—the skills they need to keep the plants running—to expatriates. Now Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) wants to bring that expertise home and has worked with Emerson Process Management to develop and execute a comprehensive training program that helps new engineers develop skills needed to maintain a running oil production facility.

As part of the contract, Emerson's Educational Services team has launched a new aspect of customer training called Workforce Effectiveness. Workforce Effectiveness begins with an assessment of the customer's unique needs, continues with the development of a plan tailored to address those needs and wraps up with measurement of the results.

At KOC, "90% of employees are ex-pats," says Mark Dimmitt, educational services consultant, Education/Training, Emerson Process Management. "KOC wants to upscale the local employees, so they selected the 'cream of the crop' to be trained." As a joint effort between Lifecycle Care and Educational Services employees, Emerson tailor-made a comprehensive course for Kuwaiti engineers.

"During an 18-month collaboration effort, we designed a 19-week program combining courses from Emerson Process Management, eight other Emerson units and five contract companies," says Dimmitt. The "boot camp" program covers field instrumentation, automation systems and cyber security, as well as process control—including advanced control and complex control strategies. The training is being conducted at Emerson's regional training centers in the U.S. at both Austin and Marshalltown facilities.

The initial eight KOC maintenance engineers are responsible for all the refinery automation. "The KOC trainees are degreed engineers—some U.S.-educated—and have pretty good English skills," Dimmitt adds. They have now completed seven of the 19 weeks. The first seven weeks have focused on measurement, instrumentation and final control elements. The second trimester will cover process and safety control systems, including functional safety training.

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The final trimester will bring it all together by covering Foundation fieldbus, loops, devices and valves, advanced control and DeltaV. "They're expected to know A to Z, soup to nuts on automation," Dimmitt says. "The final exam will test their knowledge and their skills. We'll give them a bunch of parts and they'll have to build up a working system."

Training has traditionally been "a la carte," Dimmitt says. "You look at vendor courses and pick out a few. It's good, but all the content may not apply to a job role. Customers want higher value, better ROI, so we develop programs specifically for a site, based on a site training assessment that homes in on exactly what skills are needed. They get training on exactly what they need to know."

Experienced personnel may just need to learn about DeltaV. Fresh graduates or new employees may need full boot camps. The programs are tailored to fill their training needs based on an assessment of their skills gaps and their personnel.

"We are seeing more customers engage in a broad course of training for their newer employees," says Dorothy Hellberg, director, Emerson Process Management Educational Services. "As producers expand their engineering staff to replace experienced retiring employees or to staff new facilities, condensed training programs can facilitate smooth project execution and continuing operations. Our services can easily be configured to meet those needs."

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