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Need Advice as a New Instrument Technician

07/24/2017 10:39 AM

Dear CR4 users,

As a new instrument technician in power plant, I really appreciated if you have any advice for me (social and technical skills advice). I've been working 4 months now, so far the situation is too much unexpected, for example, how do you expand the technical skills when you can't confirm the answer if your coworker/boss have no interest talking about it or have limited knowledge. It just forced you to be pragmatic. Thank you.

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Anonymous Poster #1
#1

Re: Need Advice as a New Instrument Technician

07/24/2017 11:25 AM

No-one is holding you captive there, though?

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#2

Re: Need Advice as a New Instrument Technician

07/24/2017 11:31 AM

If your co-workers and boss don't have the technical expertise, perhaps that's why they hired you. All I can recommend is that you study as much as possible on your own. As far as specific questions, the folks here at CR4 are generally very helpful.

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#3

Re: Need Advice as a New Instrument Technician

07/24/2017 11:56 AM

My biggest advice is to acknowledge, on an as needed basis, your immediate technical limitations. When asked to perform a technical task that you are not readily familiar with say something like this:

"It's been awhile since I've done a <insert task>. This has to be done right or we are all wasting our time and money. Let me first research this and I'll be back in an hour to do this right."

This is particularly true with calibration procedures of instruments. One instrument manufacturers methodology may not work for another manufacturers instrument.

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#4

Re: Need Advice as a New Instrument Technician

07/24/2017 12:04 PM

If you are looking to increase your skill level you need some sort of mentoring....If you can't find it in person, then virtual relationships are the next best thing....join a group...or take classes...

https://www.tpctraining.com/pages/electrical-instrumentation-systems-technician-training

https://www.industry.usa.siemens.com/automation/us/en/process-instrumentation-and-analytics/process-instrumentation/service-and-support/pages/pi-support.aspx

http://www.controleng.com/

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#5

Re: Need Advice as a New Instrument Technician

07/24/2017 1:53 PM

Read up on the types and brands of instruments you have in the field at your plant.

Follow OEM manuals carefully, and to the letter. Ask OEM tech support frequent questions when the need arises. You will develop a better working relationship with them in that manner.

At least study and know the basic operating principle of the instrumentation you are responsible for. Learn to work on things one thing at a time, and don't let them pull you off when you are on the verge of completing a critical task. That will spread you so thin, you will lose place of what your were doing.

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#6

Re: Need Advice as a New Instrument Technician

07/24/2017 3:57 PM

Redfred's (GA) and Mr. Stewart's (GA) combined advice hits the bullseye - tell people you need to do some research to do it right and then go read the manual(s) for the specific device.

It's amazing how much information is the manufacturer's manual. Not everything, but most of what you need to know is already documented.

Sometimes there's more then one manual, there might be an installation manual for mechanical and wiring and separate manual for configuration. The manuals frequently do not have the decoding ring for decoding the 19 digit/character model number to figure out exactly what features are included. Sometimes it's the catalog/spec/data sheet that has that information.

Save the PDFs. Maintain your own library. Don't just download it, read it.

Spend an hour a day reading the documentation and shortly you'll be the on-site guru wizard because somehow, you know what's going on because you read the manual.

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Need Advice as a New Instrument Technician

07/24/2017 4:39 PM

RTFM! works every single time, well in most cases.

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#8
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Re: Need Advice as a New Instrument Technician

07/24/2017 5:07 PM

Unfortunately as I have come to see things very few managers ever want you to actually spend time reading manuals and learning the real ins and outs of the very equipment you are expected to work on.

More than once I have been pulled aside and lectured on 'wasting company time reading manuals' when I should have been out 'fixing the damn machines' I was hired to work on.

It's' a common theme with those types of people who value never standing still over taking a moment to think about what they actually need to do through to a point that they have an actual plan of attack to use against a problem.

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#13
In reply to #8

Re: Need Advice as a New Instrument Technician

07/25/2017 12:48 AM

There is always an alternative: start your own business.

Only then you will know that your complains are not fair.

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#15
In reply to #8

Re: Need Advice as a New Instrument Technician

07/25/2017 8:39 AM

And with those folks, it would not require a long look at their entire life to find a long string of "controlled" chaos, with even more uncontrolled chaos, usually ending in a tragedy of one kind or another.

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#9

Re: Need Advice as a New Instrument Technician

07/24/2017 5:09 PM

I would recommend, if possible, you forge relationships with the manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors of the equipment and instruments you are working on. You would be surprised at how much technical advice you can get from some of them. They know if they help you, later down the road when you need to buy or replace something, you'll be thinking of them.

This strategy has worked for me. I replaced our previous maintenance manager because my managers felt he wasn't doing his job. It went from me working for him, to me being his direct supervisor, to him being removed from maintenance altogether. Needless to say, I didn't get a lot of info from him.

I had to learn somehow and started making phone calls and sending emails. Hinting that although I didn't know too much about a piece of equipment, I might be looking to upgrade it in the future. The info started pouring in. I'm talking some big companies like Fanuc America, ABB, both of which I have been to their Rochester Hills, MI facilities more times then I can count. I was looking to replace our aged P-100 paint robot, which so far has not happened, but both companies got something in return, Fanuc gets my business for replacement parts on the P-100, and when I need a new VFD or parts for one, I go with ABB.

I have done this with the specialty companies of some of the coating equipment we use like STC Dip Spin, P Ronci Machine Company, and Jessup Engineering. Most people have never heard of these companies but they are huge in my industry. Besides their sales guys visiting, I have had each of their owners/ presidents visit my small facility on more than one occasion. They are where I have received 90% of my knowledge about their equipment. Not only do they get my business, but I send many of my peers to them from our sister plants that are all over the country.

Same goes for distributors of the smaller equipment / consumables we use. Like filters, pot liners, paint pots, pumps, hoses, and paint guns and parts for all of it. I have 2 main distributors, they both know about each other. I take quotes from both and go with the better of the two, close to a 50/50 split. Most of the time the pricing is close, so the info/knowledge I get about said piece of equipment and how to maintain it may make the difference in a sale.

This may not work for you if you have no say in the purchasing of new equipment or replacement parts, but it wouldn't hurt to try. Nobody is more willing to teach you about the equipment you are using than the equipment manufacturer or distributor, especially if they think the can make a buck later.

Just my 2 cents worth, it worked for me, it may work for you.

Good luck.

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#10

Re: Need Advice as a New Instrument Technician

07/24/2017 7:17 PM

What, no feedback on your request for help with the "Right Approach to Analyze the Benefit of Retrofitting Unsupported PLC"? Tsk Tsk!

When you were hired, what did you lead your employer to believe that you knew?

If you were truthful in explaining your level of knowledge and expertise then some "on the job training" should be expected.

Otherwise, learn rapidly. This may require after hours research and study if they expected someone of a higher skill level.

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#11
In reply to #10

Re: Need Advice as a New Instrument Technician

07/24/2017 7:46 PM

May I be the first to say, Welcome back my friend!

If I am not the first, who cares, lot's of colorful adjectives came out of my mouth when I saw your post...............

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#12
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Re: Need Advice as a New Instrument Technician

07/25/2017 12:26 AM

Thanks. Hope your situation is improving. Not planning to lite here for any time, just stopped to get a change of clothes and then back to my new world.

Cheers.

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#17
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Re: Need Advice as a New Instrument Technician

07/25/2017 10:05 AM

Good to see you're still kickin'.

Hope all is well!

Bryan

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#19
In reply to #12

Re: Need Advice as a New Instrument Technician

07/25/2017 8:15 PM

Still feel about the same, was told its a slow process. Won't know if I have to go through it again until the end of September. Bloodwork, another ultrasound, and nuclear scan will tell. With my thyroid only having a 30% uptake they gave me 31 mCi of I131, convert that to mRem's and it's comes out to about 120,000 chest x-rays in one dose. Kind of sucked, really with throat pain and digestive issues. They still are talking about a thyroidectomy. Don't want that down time, but will do what I need to, to be there for my kids.

Thanks for caring.........

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#24
In reply to #19

Re: Need Advice as a New Instrument Technician

07/26/2017 9:08 AM

We all want you to get well, and hang around with us! Anything I can do, let me know brother!

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Re: Need Advice as a New Instrument Technician

07/25/2017 10:10 PM

Good to see you here, once more. Hope you are doing well.

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Re: Need Advice as a New Instrument Technician

07/25/2017 3:17 AM

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#16
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Re: Need Advice as a New Instrument Technician

07/25/2017 8:45 AM

Lyn: I feel I owed you an apology, for belittling you. I apologize.

Please hang around. I miss the camaraderie with you, the banter, and the out and out arguments. I promise to play nice! No biting, kicking, gouging, or hair pulling. No pulled punches, either. Deal?

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#18

Re: Need Advice as a New Instrument Technician

07/25/2017 11:39 AM

Oh - one of those jobs. I know what you are facing. Wire-line service in the oil field is the same way. The way this sort of job works is if you know something no-one else does, you never tell them. That makes you more valuable. And, of course the boss goes along with this approach as he had to do the same thing to get to where he is. No such thing as a team in that sort of work - just a bunch of competitors trying to get ahead of their co-workers.

You have to do as others explained and use the internet and manuals to get the knowledge you need. The ultimate solution is to be bold and try something you know nothing about, and hopefully your competitors, uhhhh, no, I mean co-workers don't either. Either you find the right answer and succeed, or you fail and get another job in something less competitive. Either way you are better off then.

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#22
In reply to #18

Re: Need Advice as a New Instrument Technician

07/26/2017 4:34 AM

It is a shame that so many people do not want to share their knowledge, making learning very tedious.

I guess they do not understand how treasured you may become when sharing your professional knowledge. For instance, Dave Jones has done this and I feel he is doing well.

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#20

Re: Need Advice as a New Instrument Technician

07/25/2017 10:08 PM

google or Youtube won't work for you?

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#23
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Re: Need Advice as a New Instrument Technician

07/26/2017 4:36 AM

I am pretty sure they are the same company

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