Workforce Crisis: Unique Training Facility Provides Multiple Workforce Solutions

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | November 2008 Vol. 63 No. 11

"We see a direct correlation between an increased amount of training and the reduction in on the job injuries," he explained. "A well trained work force is a safer work force and a more productive work force."

Located at Mears Group corporate headquarters in Rosebush, MI, the training and research facility occupies 2.75 acres and was planned and designed by a team of engineers, subject matter experts and construction specialists with the goal of replicating everyday challenges faced by personnel evaluating pipelines both above and below ground.

Parker called the center the cornerstone of Mears' operator qualification programs for Mears employees, including field training capabilities for pipe excavation, pipe coating removal, surface preparation, coating application, evaluating casing isolation, external corrosion direct assessment (ECDA), indirect inspection surveys and pipe direct examinations.

Employees can hone survey skills on the test site which includes more than 1,800 feet of pipe in 10 , 12 , 20 , 24 and 30 inch diameters. The primary loop of pipe includes over 50 coating flaws that were intentionally created ranging in size, shape and pipe orientation.

Special features

Parker said a unique element of the test facility is a 100 foot segment of casing along a 10 inch carrier pipe for testing electrical isolation and the effects of electrolyte within the annular space. Test wires and reference electrode access holes for inserting the electrode into the annular space are positioned every 10 feet along the casing. The annular space can be flooded with varying amounts of water. Variable resistors every 10 feet can be used to change the location of contacts including simulating "high resistance" contacts. The carrier pipe contains prefabricated coating and metal loss anomalies of known sizes and locations.

"The casing section provides the ability to simulate scenarios that would actually happen out in the field," said Parker.

The research features of the facility allows Mears to determine which coating flaws can be detected by the different ECDA survey techniques and/or equipment available in the marketplace. The impact of the different coatings along with the different cathodic protection configurations on the detection capabilities of the equipment can be analyzed. Real world surface conditions have been included such as soil, gravel, asphalt and concrete. The CP systems and piping can be configured in over 25 different setups using the Anodeflex, zinc ribbon, magnesium anodes and remote anode beds.
The facility's features are not limited to Mears needs.