An old comedy album by the Firesign Theatre teases with the title Everything you know is wrong. I feel like that a lot. (The wonders of the Internet make a video version available where Dr. Happy Harry Cox will tell you we came from outer space.) More seriously, and this is good news, only half of what you know is wrong. The operative term is not so much “wrong” as it should be “outdated”. The big and real problem is you don’t know which half. What is 100% correct is that to alleviate the problem, training throughout your professional life should never cease.
The necessity for training was first made clear by a professional CAD software trainer who made the remark about frequent refresher courses. At the time, early CAD programs were going through rapid changes with upgrades often every six months, so those designing with the software would need frequent refreshers to take best advantage of new features.
The arrangement of the day made sense for office workers. But what about modern non-office workers such as wind technicians? After leaving tech school, which could be as brief as 18 months, OJT experience is expected to bring you up to speed. That’s fine if turbines work 20 years with little attention. But they do not. To extend the time between turbine maintenance, O&M crews will have to know more than how to replace one failed component with another equally doomed to fail. Just as with cars, there is an aftermarket for turbine components and in many cases, upgrades to equipment and improved materials are readily available. But do you know about them? If an organization were available to bring together technicians with many years experience and component manufacturers who are willing to share their experience, would that not be greatly beneficial to you, the tech, and the wind industry? Of course it would be.
Surprisingly, not all techs have had the benefit of school. At the recent WindTech 2012 training event in Sweetwater Texas, several attendees expressed their great satisfaction with the program because they had no formal training and were glad to rub shoulders with presenters and other technicians who could answer questions such as: are all oil filters created equal? Or, how do you repair a bullet hole in a wind-turbine blade?
The wind industry constantly churns out repair ideas and improved equipment. The WindWatch section of this magazine is full of ways to lengthen time between maintenance. But the personal experience and insight of dozens of engineers at equipment companies reaches these pages too infrequently. For a real update, you’ll have to go old school by getting back to a classroom so you can, for example, ask a representative from a material manufacturer: What is the best way to repair a bullet hole in a turbine blade? Like the CAD guy said, your technical training should never end. WPE
Filed Under: Training