"It was good to get an understanding of pressure testing regulations and safety, and to see the importance of documentation. I actually got a lot more than I came for."
Verified by an engineer
Paul is a Project Manager at Archer Technicoat Limited (ATL). An SME with about 20 employees, ATL is a world leader in the niche sector of advance coating solutions. The company works across aerospace, space, nuclear fission, nuclear fusion and other high-tech industries.
“My role as project manager is to oversee system builds, action the mechanical engineering, manage our contractors and install systems for our clients here and abroad,” explains Paul. “It’s crucial to understand what our clients have to achieve and to be safe.”
Paul’s engineering career began in 2000 as a storeman for Protim Solignum Ltd, a company which manufactured chemicals and machinery used to treat timber. His enthusiasm for engineering led to him being promoted to service engineer. He then moved to a more administrative role while he studied part-time for an HNC, followed by a degree in Mechanical Engineering Design. In 2013, Paul gained a masters in Mechanical Engineering Design from Buckinghamshire New University and in 2017 moved to ATL.
Why the Pressure Testing course?
“I had not done much pressure testing for a while, and it was becoming evident that we needed to gain a little more current knowledge. We produce our own equipment, and we need to ensure we meet all requirements for UK CA and EU CE markings, as some things have changed since Brexit.
“Our equipment uses pressurised gas lines and some lines contain important but dangerous chemicals. Though the calculations for pressure vessels are done by others, we also build small vessels that fall outside the pressure equipment directive. We are confident in their safety, but we wanted to make sure we are on top of current requirements. It was more of a catch-up thing, really.
“I have taken other courses with the IMechE – they are a notified body, and you can be confident the course will be delivered by people who know what they are talking about. They give you the understanding of what you need to practise at your work. I was confident it would be a good course.”
What was your experience of the course?
“This was a one-day, virtual course. Online is a lot easier for me, to be honest. I can shut myself away, put some headphones on, and away I go.
“There were about 10 of us online, with a wide variety of experience. We got a good insight into each other’s requirements of pressure. That worked well. The trainer was extremely knowledgeable, across the board. He was able to take different aspects of their sector, answer their questions and explain the problem for others who maybe didn’t have experience of that situation.
“It was quite interactive and we split into small groups two or three times during the day to work through an exercise. That helped because a downside of virtual courses is just staring at a screen – this broke it up. There was no talking over each other which can happen online. We could hear other’s opinions and then come up with a solution together.
“My aim of going on the course was to get up to date on regulations and safety. That was all covered so that was brilliant for me. It was good to get an understanding of that, and to see the importance of documentation. I actually got a lot more than I came for. It put pressure testing in perspective and explained why things might fail, what to look for and why it’s important to continually assess fatigue and stress using a methodical process.
“Although I have experienced failures, I have never had a catastrophic failure. The trainer gave an example of a catastrophic failure – think of a rapid expansion of energy in a 50psi pipe as like being run over by a BMW X5 at a 100mph. That was a bit of an eye-opener. You don’t think about it when it’s restrained inside a pipe. It gives a better idea of how much of a safety margin you need.”
What are the key reasons someone should attend Pressure Testing course?
- “To gain a full understanding of the code requirements and regulations.”
- “To learn how to carry out a pressure test.”
- “To understand the safety requirements when performing a pressure test.”
What’s been the impact?
“We now know how to test our equipment safely and are confident the equipment we produce is safe. We also want to be able to do our own in-house testing in the future. We now have strategies of how to do that. We were given the full, detailed presentation, so we can go step-by-step through the process. That is extremely useful, and I’d definitely recommend the course.
“We now have an extra comfort blanket of safety that we are conforming with UK and European regulations for markings. It helps us ensure we’ll have all the documentation we need.”
Three pieces of advice you’d give future attendees
1) “Make sure you know what you want to get out of the course before you start. You’ll have the opportunity to discuss any queries and there really aren’t any stupid questions when it comes to safe working.”
2) “Ensure you have a good basic understanding of pressure systems and pressure testing. At the very least, make sure you know what is needed for your role.”
3) “Don’t be afraid to join in, even if you’re not the most experienced. You’ll learn things by really taking part. Also, at the end of the course, the trainer stayed on to take additional questions – I found that really useful and recommend hanging around those extra few minutes.”
“As an IMechE member, I frequently look at what’s available, both for myself and others at ATL. The IMechE courses compare very well to other training courses, are a lot more relevant for me as an engineer and they are very good on pricing. The one I am considering at moment is the APM Project Management Qualification. I don’t know how soon that will happen, as it’s as time permits, but it is something I want to do.”