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“Typically, people think PMI training is just for the field technicians, but those techs are one cog in a big machine. A lot of sales, accounting, and management decisions are made before and after that job is done. Getting everyone on the same page minimizes communication and process problems that cost companies time and money. It’s a competitive market out there for inspection service providers. That efficiency boost in the process can reap big long-term rewards.”Paul Lawrence
SciAps is proud to be the exclusive sponsor for PMI support and consulting time with Paul Lawrence of PMI Concepts.
- Are you getting puzzling results from your XRF or LIBS analyzer on alloy materials and don’t know why?
- Inconsistent chemistries, carbon equivalents or residuals out of spec without a good explanation why?
- Questions about analyzer operation and sample prep for handheld X-ray or LIBS?
Field technicians and supervisors, salespeople, accountants, recruiters, purchasers, and even clients are all candidates for training. When everyone is trained properly, work flows smoothly.
Paul Lawrence has been performing PMI work, and training and certifying inspectors, for over 10 years. He’s an expert at all aspects of PMI including XRF, spark OES, and now LIBS technologies. SciAps is making Paul available for brief, free consulting slots. Working with your test results, or even testing your samples live, Paul will demonstrate XRF and LIBS operational and sample preparation techniques — whatever’s needed to answer your questions. Start with our tip sheet, then reach out to Paul with your questions.
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The comprehensive training concept gives a broad overview of the entire process so that the sales team, accountants, recruiters, purchasers, and even clients know what to expect. When everyone in the process understands the whole picture, the job can be bid realistically and managed efficiently.
For instance: A field tech gets trained in how to use the equipment and do the job properly. He goes back into the field and applies the training. But if management doesn’t understand what the field tech is now doing and why, it creates process and communication problems that could result in a waste of time and money.
- Training the field technicians and management team makes sure everyone is on the same page. In this scenario, managers get an overview since they won’t go into the field to do the work, but they should be able to supervise it at some level and know that their employees are doing quality work.
- This applies to the client, too. If a client needs to meet specific standards, it’s in their best interest to understand the process. PMI Concepts orients the client on what to expect from the vendor.
- When the sales team is trying to sell inspection work, they must know something about that inspection work. A broad overview of how things work and what to expect from the people who are doing the inspection will help the sales team educate the client on what to expect from your company.
- Business development training also addresses the time it takes to complete a job, from surface prep to XRF and LIBS analyses. This way, the team doesn’t overestimate the technician’s ability to do the job. There might be complications, like having to climb up a scaffold or removing insulation. All of these things come into play, so it’s important for everyone in the process to understand the whole picture in order to bid the job realistically.
Whether you’re part of a company-funded training, or are new to the industry and just want to improve your PMI game, there’s a training session for you.
Training means better performance
“When you make a mistake in the PMI business, there’s no room to be ‘a little’ wrong,” Lawrence says. “It’s an accurate analysis or it’s not. Calls you make in the field get turned into welding procedures, operating procedures, and maintenance outage plans. Developing these plans and procedures around an incorrect alloy reading costs time and money at best and puts people and property in danger at worst.
“Nobody makes these mistakes intentionally. They do what their internal voice tells them is right, based on their level of training and experience. I try to give that internal voice a few more things to talk about, while also teaching people to listen a bit more. When someone starts to get outside the knowledge comfort zone, that voice will scream, ‘This is unfamiliar territory!’
“If you stop, reassess, and use the resources available to you, you’ll be protected from making those mistakes,” he says.
Improve your mental game
The number one cause of PMI process failures comes down to the three hardest words in the English language: “I don’t know.”
People are afraid to say they don’t know something. We live in a culture, especially in the oil and gas industry, that sometimes promotes a resistance to intellectual humility.
PMI Training teaches people, whether field technicians or anyone on the team, to ask the questions they need to ask to get the job done.
Know your tools
It’s important to know your applications and the capabilities of each analyzer, as well as the elemental concentrations involved. For most PMI work, technicians will need to use both analyzers at different times.
Some tests are unique to XRF or LIBS: If you need to see very low levels of things like vanadium and niobium, then you will need XRF; if your industry needs to do L-grade or H-grade stainless steels, use LIBS; for some PMI work, you won’t need to measure carbon, so it’s more than likely that you will only have an XRF.
But for most PMI work, you will need to use both analyzers at different times.
Each instrument will play to its strengths, and with practice, technicians will know what those are.
PMI training is detective training
One of the coolest training sessions is weld dilution, where the technician becomes a detective.
When a field tech sees a piece of plate or pipe on each side that is welded together with some different alloy, being able to figure out that dilution is critical. Learning this skill creates pride in work as the field technicians master their craft and are no longer victims of the dreaded “No Match” alloy ID.
Watching people do that detective work is exciting for the students and trainer—now they have a truly rare skill.
Master basic field maintenance
Another thing people learn in PMI training is when they can fix their instruments and when they’re facing a complex service issue. Some items are an easy fix, like accuracy checks, drift corrections, or replacement of damaged measurement windows—as long as they have the training; however, other issues require the instrument to be sent back to the manufacturer for service. It can be costly if a technician makes a mistake not knowing which is which.
There’s often a simple fix that each user can repair on their own with just a few tools, as long as they have the training.
SciAps instrument advantages
“For years, I’ve been telling anyone willing to listen that PMI needs a fast, reliable XRF and a LIBS that does carbon and silicon, nothing else. SciAps is the only instrumentation company that listened to me, and their One Box has changed everything. I now have students graduating from my three-day training that I would feel confident sending out to any job that requires PMI analysis.”Paul Lawrence
Whether it’s an XRF or LIBS analyzer, the instrument’s normal configuration won’t test for certain elements, but if a technician uses a filter, it will show certain elements better so that the detector can analyze them. But you can’t test everything with one filter setting. So, every time there’s a new element to test for, operators traditionally would have to manually change the filter setting and shot time—that is, if they even know that they have to change the filter.
SciAps apps set up these filters for you. Switching to the correct app with a one-button press, and it’s done. For example, for low residual elements, there’s an app that gives you the sum of copper and nickel or copper, nickel, and chrome because those are the things you are worried about. Not having to adjust the analyzer to create those pseudo elements added together saves a lot of time and produces more consistently accurate results.
If you’re in the PMI industry, you will see the same alloys all the time, and these are the guns that will accurately and quickly analyze those alloys. Essentially, SciAps One Box for PMI reduces the technician’s exposure to complex elemental analysis with these two instruments:
- The X-550 is not affected by environmental issues or bad prep or an inexperienced tech. It gives you solid data every time.
- The Z-901 CSi only tests for carbon and silicon, which makes it much easier to master than a fully loaded LIBS. The technician will get the exact training they need for carbon analysis with hands-on application and practice.
With SciAps One Box, even a trained novice will be able to identify every alloy you’ll ever need for your program or clients.
Sponsored by SciAps
Known for best-in-class performance, SciAps is proud to be the exclusive sponsor for PMI support and consulting time, as well as the advanced training courses.
XRF: SciAps XRF Apps are ready to go, in a totally repackaged XRF featuring the best form factor for PMI and industry-leading performance on Cr, Ni, Cu, Nb and V for low RE materials and low silicon for sulfidic corrosion applications.
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