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Edmonton Valve & Fitting Blog

Weekly posts for northern and central Alberta engineers, plant operators, and buyers.

A Customer View on Edmonton's Tube Fitting & Installation Training

by Katie Reid, on Thu, Dec 17, 2015 @ 10:12 AM

Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union 488 sends us eight to 10 people a month to get it right


Edmonton Valve's tube fitting and installation training course sees at least 8-10 instrument fitters and techs a month through the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union 488. The practical portion of the class (pictured above) features a skill-testing hands-on demo that techs can apply to their industry.

Chemco Electrical Contractors hires from the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union 488, and performs work in the oil & gas and energy industry. This includes Ken Ropcean, director of mechanical field operations for the multi-disciplined industrial contractor, who has been working closely with Edmonton Valve & Fitting for many years.

The instrument division within Chemco is expected to have the right training and certifications. That's where Edmonton Valve & Fitting comes in. Local 488 typically sends about eight to 10 people a month to us for our Swagelok Total Support (STS) training course, and has been doing so for the last few years. Ken himself first took the course back around 1986.

Over the years, STS training has become more than just a good way for Ken to get his instrument mechanics and instrument fitters on the right track.

"Especially today, there are a lot of owners who require that they have this course before they are permitted to perform work on tubing and fitting installations on-site," he says. “I really pushed this to be a pre-requisite for our union’s training because I have seen the value first-hand.”

Hands-on training

STS classes cover the selection, handling, and installation of tube fittings, plus the proper bending and fabrication of tubing. These are full-day courses led by industry experts from Edmonton Valve & Fitting.

"It's specific to their product, and they do a really good job of presenting," Ken says. “They are a class act."

The eight-hour course features class lectures in the morning and labs in the afternoon. Each participant must put their learning to the test and build an assembly. Then, each assembly is tested under pressure in a burst chamber. Usually it becomes a bit of a competition to see whose assembly can withstand the highest pressure. Through the chamber's bulletproof glass, everyone can see what happens when the system is pressurized far beyond the rating of the tubing. If assembled right, the tubing will burst before any of the fittings will blow out.

Those who pass the exam earn a certificate of competency, with a unique code that a trained fitter can use to identify his or her own installations.

“When looking to fill an instrumentation job it’s on our requirement list that our techs have this certification, we call it the UA Instrument Fitters Course,” Ken says. “Swagelok’s STS course encompasses all the necessary training that our techs need for the job.”

Repeat performance

It's recommended that people take the course every few years to stay fresh. Ken took it about six months ago, even though he hasn't worked in the field for about 25 years. He says he likes to have the answers fresh in his head when people ask him questions, rather than having to look them up.  

"I always tell everybody to do it the way Swagelok wants you to do it, one and a quarter turns with the markings. It's never wrong," Ken says. "What I don't like is leaks and this Swagelok course helps eliminate leaks in the field.”

Everybody who finishes the course gets an education, Ken said, including himself: "I've been in the trade 40 years. I re-took the course this past year, I thought I was doing it right and I was corrected. I walked out of the class and learned something new. This shows the benefit of taking the course, even when you have been in the industry for as long as I have."

Ken and Local 488 see the advantages of putting their instrument techs and instrument fitters through the STS course as it not only improves the quality of associates and their skill-set, but also the quality of the work performed in the field. “We already have a waiting list going into 2016 and we are booked up going into April!”

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