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Beating the maintenance blues with effective training
With increased cybersecurity threats on industrial control systems, training the offshore and onshore team is more important than ever.
Control Room operators and Maintenance personnel form the front line workforce in any Oil and Gas setup are responsible for ensuring that equipment and facilities are properly maintained, operated safely and efficiently. It is an irrefutable fact that well-trained Operators and Maintenance Personnel can play a big role in reducing the likelihood of injury, reduce potential downtime, increase the efficiency of maintenance activities, and help ensure the safety of the workplace by making sure that staff respond correctly to critical situations. Additionally, well-trained staff in maintenance activities can help to reduce overall costs and increase time-effectiveness.
With increased cybersecurity threats on industrial control systems, training the offshore and onshore team on various security best practices has become even more critical. Training helps carrying out regular security assessments and implementing policies to prevent accidental or intentional misuse of data, creating effective incident response plans and disaster recovery procedures.
Refresher courses and training sessions that cater to any changes to industrial standards and guidelines is also an important part of the training sessions. Keeping up to date with changing standards helps individuals and organisations ensure that their products, processes, and operations meet the established industry guidelines and regulations and thereby demonstrating commitment to quality and safety. Though training becomes an integral part of the onboarding process in many major companies, the need for re-training is often disregarded. Training is a continuous process and not a one-time event. Especially when the companies start to address obsolescence by upgrading the systems, re-training becomes indispensable.
What does an effective training entail?
Training for onshore and offshore personnel often consist of a production clone system that is updated with the latest site backup where the trainees are hands-on. It involves both theoretical sessions that give an overview of the system architecture with an emphasis on any recent upgrades/changes to the systems and procedures, and a practical session that includes various troubleshooting techniques and tools.
An effective training often includes custom content that is tailored to cater to the needs of the trainees and systems they deal with rather than a “one size fits all” approach. The requirements for a maintenance team are different to that of an operations team, and the requirements for a new member joining the team are quite distinct to that of a refresher course for existing teams to address a system upgrade. Training content should be flexible and adaptive to accommodate the needs and requirements of different trainee teams based on their specific roles, departments, or projects in a way that works best for them.
Industrial control systems (ICS) are critical infrastructure systems that are essential for the safe and efficient operation of process industries. For this reason and due to the complexity, the offshore and onshore teams are often very much restricted on what they are allowed to do on them. Regular trainings can also be used as tools to boost the confidence level of teams who work on such systems. So, it also pivotal that an environment is created during the training sessions where trainees can try out various practical scenarios without the fear of production loss and system breakdown.
Trainers should be maximizing the potential of advancements of technology to create such an environment. Advanced virtualisation tools have made the process of resetting the systems to an initial condition more reliable now a days. Such tools ensure that a pre-determined state is attained condition without any loss of data or degradation in performance.
The systems once established and used for pre-offshore training of operators and maintenance personnel have proven to be very effective.
Training is a win-win scenario
Training onshore and offshore teams is the best way to improve the competency, which means lesser reliance on system specialists or technical experts for maintenance and first-level troubleshooting.
It is a cost-effective way for organisations to develop in-house expertise, thereby improve team performance, efficiency, and productivity.