by Bill Simpkins
Gazette #37August, 1991
The expectations placed on cable pressure technicians have changed dramatically over the years. Although the primary goal is to keep air pressure in the cables, the tools and skills required to do the job are far different than they were five to ten years ago.
Many of these changes are the result of the variety of new technologies and techniques presently being adopted by cable maintenance departments. By far the most dramatic change has been the advent and development of computerized monitoring programs. Technicians now need to know how to access and work with a computer.
Not only has the equipment become increasingly sophisticated, but so has the approach to the science of cable pressurization. A much more strategic and efficient approach to the business of maintaining pressurized cable is now required. The concept of prioritizing leaks and the practice of using flow and pressure data to identify the location of leaks requires analysis and problem solving skills. These new techniques, while not difficult, require more knowledge than was expected of pressure technicians when the primary leak locating tool was a soap bucket.
Many of these skills, whether technical or basic in nature, are unknown to a number of cable pressure technicians. Consequently, some cable pressurization departments are under-utilizing both their human and material resources. In these departments, the most cost-effective way to improve system quality and labor efficiency may not be an investment in new equipment. It may simply be a commitment to train their people in the new methods of pressurized cable maintenance.
To help guide cable pressurization managers and technicians, we have compiled a list of modern leak locating skills and expectations (see box below). These are the skills that distinguish today's successful cable pressurization personnel from past technicians.
Admittedly, we are setting some very high expectations. However, we think that doing so will give you specific goals to strive for. If you think this list is too overwhelming to implement in your cable maintenance department at the present time, use it as a projection for the future. The items listed are important now, but they'll be even more important in the years to come. One last thought: the first responsibility for learning these new skills rests with managers. Only after managers have set new standards by example, can they rightfully place such expectations on their crews.
Comprehend Air Pressure Concepts
The technician should understand:
Have Knowledge of the PressureMAP Software Program
The technician should be able to:
Be Able to Analyze Leak Locating Problems
The technician should have the knowledge to properly utilize these leak locating tools and formulas:
Understand General System Maintenance and Keep Accurate Records
The technician should understand that leak locating is only part of the job. He or she must recognize that the maintenance of pressurization equipment is also critical to the program's success. Such maintenance should ensure that:
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