The importance of training programs
for proper insulation installations
For any hydrocarbon-related project, the quality of insulation material and installation are critical for process control, safety and long-term performance. This is especially the case with LNG insulation applications. When effective training programmes are developed and implemented for contractors and their employees, productivity will increase, downtime will decrease, and they will master the techniques necessary for a top-quality installation.
For hydrocarbon-related projects, the quality of insulation material and installation are critical for process control, safety and long-term performance. This is especially the case with LNG insulation applications.
Many insulation system failures are related to moisture. If insulation is applied improperly, water vapor can enter the insulation system, thus allowing ice to form. This can ultimately lead to corrosion, integrity degradation, loss of insulating value, especially in permeable insulations, and, ultimately, failure of the insulation system.
Applications training for engineering and specifiers can ensure systems are properly designed, and applications training programs for contractors can help productivity increase, downtime decrease, improve installation quality, and help to ensure that systems perform as designed.
Much has been discussed about the decline in the skilled workforce across many trades. The insulation industry is no exception.
Owens Corning® FOAMGLAS® Insulation has a global training program. At three sites, - Fresno, Texas, USA; Tessenderlo, Belgium; and Yantai, China, there are insulation training centers, with various training rigs for large and small diameter piping. In addition to learning about proper and safe handling of products, workers are trained on valves, T-pieces and elbows in a unique learning environment. The training staff discusses common issues encountered on jobsites and demonstrates ways to solve them.
Typical training programs start with a tour of the manufacturing and testing facilities, and include a mix of theoretical classroom training and practical hands-on training
While there is value to visiting the training centers, on-site training programs are also beneficial. Real-world applications often deal with specific climates and varying experience levels of contractors, which many not be adequately simulated in the classroom or training center.
When starting a site-specific training program, a few elements are necessary for success. Safety should always be at the forefront of any training program. Discussions around safety should be a priority.
Another effective element to teach is teamwork. It is important to include key individuals from engineering, construction management, the insulation manufacturer and installers Equally important to also include is the inspection team.
Lastly, consider the challenges being faced. What is the experience of the installers? Have the specifications been reviewed carefully and understood by the installers? Have potential safety hazards been considered? It is important to train employees before the job starts – after which costs can increase, as can the safety hazards.
Areas of focus for onsite training
- Identify the potential fail points in the insulation system, and why they may fail. Focus on the details necessary to ensure the system does not fail.
- Develop a detailed understanding of the system to be insulated with the installers. When installers understand why they are being asked to do things a certain way, this can help increase buy-in and likelihood to follow procedures and not cut corners.
- Study detailed drawings and step-by-step application procedures. A thorough review by the installers, inspectors, design team and construction management, helps everyone is on the same page for the installation.
- Creating an environment where trainers and installers are open-minded can help them become more willing to try new, more efficient techniques.
- Discuss details such as acceptable joints in the insulation, overlapping vapor retardant jacketing, offsetting joints, tolerances between layers of a multi-layer system, installing vapor stops, etc.
- Explain the proper applications of accessories, including the preferred temperatures for application and storage.
- Establish appropriate inspections and hold points for the project. Teach installers how to repair damaged or improper applications before they move on. All inspectors and management must enter an agreement as to what is an acceptable application and what is not. (Critical)
In different parts of the world, workforces can vary in levels of experience. There is also a growing trend toward modularization of system components in multiple locations, which makes on-site training even more important.
Installers on one site may be fully qualified with robust LNG project experience, while some in another location may be new to insulation installation.
There can also be large differences in temperature and climate among various locations that can impact appropriate installation procedures.
The engineer, general contractor, insulation installer, inspector and insulation manufacturer should all work together to build a positive training program.
Developing a training program helps build skills and techniques for installing quality insulation systems, all while helping to create a safer work environment.