2KG Training has extended its footprint outside Africa, partnering with a Qatari engineering group to run training modules across the Gulf States.
The modules will be customised to dovetail with specific requirements identified during Level One assessments of individual plant efficiency in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, as well as Oman, Kuwait and Qatar itself.
2KG Training is a sister company of Technical Application Software (TAS,) a developer of customised computer programmes for pump selection and performance charting, and test bed analysis and automation. TAS counts all major South African pump companies as its customers, and works with pump manufacturers abroad.
TAS also works with end users to investigate machine underperformance. Harry Rosen, managing director of both 2KG Training and TAS, explained that plant performance analysis is offered through TAS Online.
“We ask the really difficult questions,” he said. “We ask the unpleasant questions.”
“If the software is optimising pump selection, why when we go into the plants do we find that 70% of pumps are installed in applications for which they are not designed? Why are pumps failing after two years when they are designed to last five years? Why are pumps that are designed for an efficiency of 80% only achieving 60%?”
To answer these questions, TAS Online delivers real time pump performance monitoring, allowing recommendations to be made on how to improve the efficiency and reliability of the pumping system.
2KG Training dovetails with this service to involve plant engineers, technicians and operators in the overall process of improving machine performance.
The first training courses were run by Larry Bachus, the renowned pump expert known internationally by his moniker “The Pump Guy.” These courses focus on how to avoid the need to rebuild pumps and seals by recognising the value of maintenance, and by identifying and eliminating the factors that lead to process pump failure.
Today there are additional courses on compressors, valves and pipes, mechanical seals, bearings, condition monitoring and performance monitoring, with trainers sourced from a network of 22 experts worldwide.
2KG Training’s inclusion of trainers from abroad has been enthusiastically supported by several key multinational manufacturers.
AESSEAL, for example, has made available its mechanical seals experts worldwide, among them Dr Chris Carmody, arguably Britain’s leading authority on mechanical seals.
All courses offered by 2KG Training are CPD accredited to help maintain professional status, with the vibration course presented by AESSEAL including a British exam recognised as a Level One qualification, allowing the student to conduct vibration analysis and condition monitoring professionally.
The core perspective at 2KG remains one of pump system optimisation, however, and the company has introduced Level One plant assessments to identify opportunities for savings and performance improvements, followed by training programmes to put these in place. This is the format that will be followed in the Gulf.
In South Africa, Rosen sees major training opportunities in the power generation sector, chiefly among staff that need to be identified and up-skilled for power station and grid maintenance.
“South Africa has the operators, technicians and engineers that the power utilities need to restore the nation’s power grid,” Rosen said, “but operational experience is lacking, and this is where we see one of the biggest local training opportunities.”
Rosen explained that 2KG’s training modules for the power generation sector go beyond the theory provided by tertiary education, providing direction on “how to design a power station according to the code, how to size piping according to the standard, and how to ensure that a pump isn’t going to fail.”
The 2KG Training focus on pumps, pipes and valves is well suited to power stations with their boiler feed pumps, condenser pumps, cooling water pumps and ash slurry pumps, and where keeping these pumps running avoids the unplanned power outages caused by pump failures which, Rosen notes, are rarely supported by the stand-by pumps that used to be the norm.
“We think that budgetary constraints will prevent the power utilities themselves from becoming the main driver of training,” said Rosen.
“However, we anticipate contractors compensating to some extent so that they can position themselves for the huge potential that power station maintenance will have in South Africa over the next five to ten years.”
Besides power generation and petrochemical refineries, 2KG Training targets public water supply and wastewater treatment plants, the sugar, pulp, paper and other process industries, and pump and compressor intensive manufacturing such as the automotive industry.
Mining, though currently quite small as a training market, has potential because of the very high percentage of the total energy bill accounted for by pumps – approximately 20%.
Valves training, like pumps, focuses on correcting the all too common practice of installing the wrong valve for the application, again resulting in premature valve failure and energy wastage of about 15%, typically running to hundreds of thousands of rands per year.
“Valves are less complicated than pumps, but there remains a lot that can be improved through training.”
2KG remains independent of all manufacturers, though the company works with all of them to remain current on the latest technological developments.
“This is particularly true of mechanical seals, where the flushing plans have become complicated,” Rosen notes.
According to Rosen, companies should re-think their instinctive reaction to stop training in order to conserve revenue during the current economic downturn.
“Certainly, a large plant such as a refinery or a power station may save R10m or R20m by cancelling training, but if one year from now there is a fire that destroys equipment worth R50m, or a pump failure that costs R150m in downtime, then to cut training would have been the wrong decision, because proper training would have prevented both of these situations.”
Rosen’s advice is rather to identify the critical team essential to maintain core plant functions, and to restrict training to that team alone.
“The paradox of the training market is that an economic boom provides the budget for training but restricts staff availability because clients are operating at full capacity and need all staff at the plant. The converse is true during a downturn – the time is there but not the budget,” Rosen said.
His advice, “Train anyway, but at a lower level to accommodate budgetary constraints, thereby defending against losses caused by inadequately trained personnel.
“South Africa has the people and the capability to build power plants, projects, roads etc as good as any in the world, and a big part of this capability is the training,” he concludes.