Knowledge transfer is an important issue in any modern continuous process operation. This issue occurs at two levels: strategic and tactical. The strategic issue is management of an effective knowledge transfer from experienced to inexperienced operational personnel. The tactical issue is the critical knowledge transfer that must take place at shift change. Stratos, LLC has developed a consulting approach to assist companies in each of the areas.
Knowledge transfer from experienced to less-experienced operators and other personnel is usually viewed as a training issue. To some extent that perception is true. Operating a modern process or manufacturing facility, however, is a complex and dynamic process.
Training of inspectors, operators, and other field personnel needs to make allowances for that complex and constantly changing environment. Causal analysis investigations of plant incidents have repeatedly revealed that the actual daily work processes and decision-making processes used by operational personnel are often not well understood by management. Experienced personnel develop these processes over time in responding to the daily demands of their environment. In many cases, transfer of that knowledge to new personnel occurs only through a haphazard on-the-job training process. Stratos consultants have worked with a number of clients to assess and develop more effective training tools and activities to integrate into daily work processes and help enhance this knowledge transfer.
Continuous process facilities, in most cases, operate 24 hours a day 7 days a week. This type of operation is typical for a variety of manufacturing and transport operations such as chemical plants, pipeline operations, steel plants, paper mills, machinery manufacture, etc. Continuous operation means that the current status of a very dynamic process must be handed over to a new group of employees with every change in shift. That critical exchange of information can become mundane from repetition yet remains one of the primary sources of operational problems.
Stratos consultants have worked with operators and management at various facilities to help codify this information handoff and establish work processes and procedures that improve the accuracy of the exchange. The attention paid to this transfer can provide strong benefits in terms of improved reliability and reduced incidents.