Fresh renewable energy technology paves the way for a new training approach
8 Apr 2020
When Severn Trent installed a new steam system to help it make best use of renewable resources and technology, it opted for a thorough training programme for its onsite engineers.
At Severn Trent’s Minworth site sludge is treated in the Thermal Hydrolysis Plant (THP) before being loaded into anaerobic digesters in order to harvest energy from sewage.
A new steam system plays a crucial role in the THP, heating and treating the sludge to the required temperature of around 110°C before being cooled and transferred to the anaerobic digesters where the bacteria breaks the sludge down to produce methane and a fertiliser by-product. The methane is exported into the National Grid as bio-gas or piped into large engines producing heat and electricity which can be used on site. The heat produced is used to keep the digesters at the right temperature.
Achieving maximum benefit from safe and efficient plant operation was high on the agenda for Chris Kind, project lead for thermal hydrolysis plants (THPs) and steam systems implementation. He was responsible for putting in place the right support structure for the frontline team operating and maintaining the plant – including himself.
“Prior to my involvement at Minworth I had never worked with steam systems so it’s fair to say it’s been a steep learning curve” he admitted.
Onsite and offsite
The company approached the Spirax Sarco training facility at the Steam Technology Centre in Cheltenham, which produced a comprehensive training programme consisting of several formal courses and informal onsite support sessions, all of which would lead to an industry recognised accreditation.
The team, which had already undertaken basic Steam Awareness training with their boiler house manufacturer, had several onsite introductory taster sessions delivered by one of the facility’s specialist trainers.
Next, by securing a 100% pass rate for the City & Guilds Accredited Steam Boiler Plant Fundamentals (Shell Boiler), they demonstrated the knowledge of the different types of boilers, their fittings and use but also best practice on safe operation through a written examination.
Maintenance team members then needed to learn the skills required to give them the competence to complete boiler house routine maintenance activities.
They achieved a 100% pass on Spirax Sarco’s City & Guilds Accredited Steam Plant Maintenance course which involved a written examination, demonstrating understanding of steam system mainte- nance, good installation practices, maintenance of traps, pressure reducing valves, condensate pumps and other ancillary equipment.
Final stage of the formal training consisted of the team working towards achieving their Boiler Operation Accreditation Scheme (BOAS) national accreditation delivered at the Steam Technology Centre.
Team members have undergone intense levels of training... this opened their eyes to what is required on a daily basis and the responsibilities they have under the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations
The team undertook three written examinations and an interview with an external assessor, with all members achieving their Certified Industrial Boiler Operators (Cert IBO) status.
In addition to the formal training, Severn Trent had access to a dedicated specialist boiler house trainer from Spirax Sarco who would visit the team onsite every month.
Due to the success of the completed training programme carried out at the Minworth site, the programme will be rolled out to other Severn Trent sites.
Said Kind: “Team members have undergone intense levels of training... this opened their eyes to what is required on a daily basis and the responsibilities they have under the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations (PSSR).”
Chris Coleman, Boiler House and customer training support said: “The team are committed to honing what they do so it is no surprise that they have already embraced the best practice approach to steam system operation. What’s more, they have already made some remarkable energy and cost savings across the site.”