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Electrical contractor 37 years. Electrical inspector 2 years
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In my opinion they better not be working on MCC buckets, 480 volts, 4160 volts or anything live with only 4 years starting from 0. Many plants hire unqualified people thinking that they can train them on the fly. With out any formal constant supervision and training they could pick up dangerous habits or wrong concepts, no matter how sincere the worker or the supervisor are. At the least they should be trained in NEC70E and LOTO. There is also a NEC code on plant maintenance. I am sure we all seen work done by a plant electrician that was very impressive but not done to code.
 

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I’m not trying to turn out well rounded electricians. Just individuals that can keep the plant running.


It’s mostly that nowhere is it defined what electricians here need to know. Right now the entirety of training is a nasty mike holt book that has little to nothing to do with the work here. So I want to make a list of skills so these poor souls have some inkling of what they need to work on.
You may want to check some power-engineering material, pick out the electrical topics, and see how it applies to your site. Hiring practices could make a big difference too. Get guys with some skills already. This can mean the ones that took the long-format pre-apprenticeship training, or maybe just higher-term apprentices. Or look for a way to circulate your greenhorns out to an affiliate contractor for some experience.
 

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I have taught a few guys from scratch and to be honest if they do not have most of the basics down in the first 3 to 4 months then your wasting your time.

I set up a bench with a bunch of parts and every day we repeat the same crap "what is it, what does it do, how does it do it, why do we use it". After a few weeks we start building on the bench including hooking up vfd's, motors, solenoids, valves, sensors, plc's, etc. The guys who have a interest will google things at night then come in and ask questions. The guys who thought it was a well paying job that look simple will complain and make excuses.

If they seem like there worth the effort they follow me for a while then once i fell they know enough i will follow them. Later i will give them a small head start. Any time we hit a problem that causes then to struggle i take over then we go back to the bench to disgust the problem and maybe set up a example.

This only works because management have given me the time and materials (we also require problems to solve which is harder in a smaller plant)
 

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Nope. Not gonna learn it that way just like I’m not gonna learn to fly a helicopter from YouTube. I’ll tackle most anything with a good book and some research and experimentation but there’s some risks I don’t think are worth it.


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Seems like gpop can teach guys. IF they want to learn......
 
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The guys who have a interest will google things at night then come in and ask questions. The guys who thought it was a well paying job that look simple will complain and make excuses.
My philosophy on this has always been I’m willing to help anyone as much as they’re willing to help themselves.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
The good thing about working in the same building or facility for many years is that you can walk in the door and just know something is wrong. You can walk into a machanical room and hear which pump, air handler or whatever and know which one and what's wrong just by the sound, smell or feel of the area.
Very true. I am by far a better troubleshooter than anyone here. Yet I’m the slowest because everyone else has been here much longer and seen most everything before. They don’t trouble shoot as much as try the fixes they have already learned are the most common. That tribal knowledge is worth something to be sure. It’s hard to quantify though so I can’t really put it on the list.


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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
We always refer to that as a “permatemp” fix.
Awesome! Today ima try to find a situation where I can send the trainee back to the shop to get the permatemp.


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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
The reason I ask is because it’s super important that they’re able to recognize MV equipment. Don’t want them putting a fluke on a live 4160v fuse thinking it’s 480V. It has happened and the results are catastrophic.
Great point. I’ll add that to the list for sure.


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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
I have taught a few guys from scratch and to be honest if they do not have most of the basics down in the first 3 to 4 months then your wasting your time.

I set up a bench with a bunch of parts and every day we repeat the same crap "what is it,)
That all seems like really good advice. I was actually afraid to throw too much at em at once thinking they needed to build on a solid foundation. Honestly there’s a bit of jealousy there too as I hand a standard apprenticeship and spent my first years digging and manhandling 500mcm. Guess I need to loose that attitude.

I love your idea of daily show and tell with the higher tech stuff and seeing what they can understand after a few months. I’ll start doing that. Thanks.


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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
You may want to check some power-engineering material, pick out the electrical topics, and see how it applies to your site. Hiring practices could make a big difference too. Get guys with some skills already. This can mean the ones that took the long-format pre-apprenticeship training, or maybe just higher-term apprentices. Or look for a way to circulate your greenhorns out to an affiliate contractor for some experience.
That’s a great idea. I’ll start looking at other training systems. I’ve no control over who gets into the shop unless it’s a hire from outside the company, then I get to sit in on the interview and have some input. And it’s a small touristy town anyway, slim pickens for candidates. 90% of the electricians that have ever been in the shop were house trained.


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House trained is nice,,, But..
The last man we lost here on site was training the new guy. Sadly he was in a bucket and cut a “Deenergized” 4160 line. He was probably dead before he hit the bottom of the bucket. But the trainee couldn’t do anything from the ground, he couldn’t even lower the bucket. It took about 30 minutes to get him down.

I was across the street in a building and only saw the lights flicker for a moment. Didn’t know until I was going to the truck for parts as they were lifting him out.

in house training has its place, But....
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
House trained is nice,,, But..
The last man we lost here on site was training the new guy. Sadly he was in a bucket and cut a “Deenergized” 4160 line.

in house training has its place, But....
That’s sad to hear. I’m sorry it happened and you all had to deal with it. I take the point of your story to heart. Thanks.


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Awesome! Today ima try to find a situation where I can send the trainee back to the shop to get the permatemp.


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Another joke (but somewhat true) along those lines is you can’t unplug a red extension cord because if you do the plant will trip.
 

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This seems strange. Take guys off the street and have them do electrical work without any training.
It's bad enough if you work in a plant that only hires Journeymen electricians that have no clue, but to just take a chance on untrained personnel to maintain electrical gear seems ridiculous.
There should be qualified people training the new guys. It's kind of a big investment for the company but it really needs to happen.
Start with safety training and keep that up even for the guys doing the training.
Keep a one on one ratio for trainee and Journeyman.
A qualified Journeyman Electrician should be able to determine if the trainee will cut the mustard.
I think it would be best to start out with basics rather than training them on controls.
If they are doing maintenance then the training would be different than construction work.
So if that's the case then teaching code would be less important because they would not be doing installations just trouble shooting and repairs.
4 years is a fair amount of time to learn the basics of our trade, but honestly the guys should be fully evaluated before they are cut loose to work on stuff solo.
Depending on how may guys you have and the work that needs to be done you might train them to do specific tasks.
Some might be good at programming and some might only be good for changing light bulbs.
I would suggest you also clearly label your 4160 gear or 12kv stuff if you have that in your plant.
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
This seems strange. Take guys off the street and have them do electrical work without any training.
Keep a one on one ratio for trainee and Journeyman.
Some might be good at programming and some might only be good for changing light bulbs.
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I don’t want to repost your post entirely but I pretty much have to agree with everything you said. None of it sadly is up to me. It’s a union shop so sometimes it’s worse than plucking someone off the street. Sometimes it’s just the guy tired of his job/boss/coworker/break room or bathroom that has the most seniority. I **** you not, the last position was filled by drawing the high card because two people were hired on the same day.


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I don’t want to repost your post entirely but I pretty much have to agree with everything you said. None of it sadly is up to me. It’s a union shop so sometimes it’s worse than plucking someone off the street. Sometimes it’s just the guy tired of his job/boss/coworker/break room or bathroom that has the most seniority. I **** you not, the last position was filled by drawing the high card because two people were hired on the same day.


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I totally understand. I worked in the exact same environment. You mentioned it was a union shop. That was the same scenario in my case. The company did the hiring and the union just asked for dues and you were a union electrician. The A members just paid higher dues than the B members.
Honestly we had some very qualified people working there and some that were totally worthless.
What type of plant are you working at? What type of equipment? That would help us to give you better suggestions on training.
Ultimately your supervisor is responsible for the safety aspects of the work you guys do.
In a large plant the old timers know where the bodies are buried and what to kick to get things running so they are valuable.
The plant I worked at had a couple of electricians who wrote up procedures for certain tasks and the other guys just followed them and this worked well for saving time.
Why have a guy read a 500 page manual just to install a VFD.
 

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The good thing about working in the same building or facility for many years is that you can walk in the door and just know something is wrong. You can walk into a machanical room and hear which pump, air handler or whatever and know which one and what's wrong just by the sound, smell or feel of the area.
How true how true. The last place I worked had a big blower and when things went quite you dropped whatever you were doing and went that way.
Cowboy
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
What type of plant are you working at? What type of equipment? That would help us to give you better suggestions on training.
It’s a lumber mill. The machines are all very big with dozens of motors and a myriad of sensor technologies.


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I'm a licensed industrial electrician in Ontario, Canada. I served an apprenticeship in much the same scenario as you described. You don't want a well rounded electrician; you want someone to keep the place running. I get it - don't agree 100% but I get it. You're afraid this trainee will get some certification and run. Maybe you should figure out why they're running. Are exit interviews ever done? As to what you want them to learn....you're work order/downtime history should tell you that. If they are to maintain existing equipment, do you have manuals, drawing sets? Have you an electrical lab/test area where they can learn how things work before they break? Your training and employee retention issues need to be addressed ..... Sorry if it sounds like a rant. I've met too many people in your position looking for a "quick fix" instead of developing a system/environment that makes people want to stay and learn more....
 
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