I am writing this column in Mombasa, Kenya. I’m here to teach and train two groups of loading masters who work for a national energy distribution company.
Now that major energy companies are divesting and withdrawing from downstream and midstream exposure by selling their physical assets like oil terminals and petrol stations, joint ventures are being formed with investors such as trading firms that refurbish, rebuild and, in some cases, operate them. This needs an assessment of the quality, not only of the hardware, but more importantly of the ‘software’ i.e. the people who work there.
And that is where TankTerminalTraining comes in. We take a look at the competency levels of the people by using the OCIMF guidelines and our global operational experience to assess awareness, knowledge and skills. This can be done in limited time. With that tool in hand, we are able to create ‘made to order’ training programs that focus on possible gaps of knowledge. By doing that in this manner, people can be upgraded in no time to the levels of professionalism required.
I usually work as follows: At the beginning of the course a number of questions are asked in the form of a ‘pre-test’. From the answers I can analyse the current level of competence and then during the ongoing assessment a competency profile can be made of each person. The training program is adjusted accordingly in order to not ‘lose’ the person by too much technical or operational details at once.
Our Loading Master program works approximately the same, but is not a class for beginners. Controlling and managing the ship/shore interface requires experience and advanced awareness, knowledge and skills. Again, systems science and cybernetics are used to train the candidates, because information is what it’s all about. The students are requested firstly to learn how to pre-plan and prepare before any tanker comes alongside. This pre-arrival, pre-berthing and pre-load or discharge protocol is very important. They are required to obtain a maximum amount of information.
According to cybernetical principles there is a law which I explained in an earlier column: ‘information reduces uncertainty’. When you take a closer look, that makes sense. People can be shown how, when, or where to get this information from. But of course, they first need to be able to ask the proper questions, which means that they must be taught all the details and aspects of how to manage the ship/shore interface.
What we use is a reference, or if you will, leverage. We look at what a Chief Officer of a tanker had to learn before he was allowed to be in charge of cargo operations. He or she had to go to maritime college for four years and then needed to build sea-time and understand everything about loading and discharging, which is a complex operation. So, we apply systems theory to teach a new way of thinking to our students in order to realise that information gathering through learning reduces complexity. This new level of competence gives them maximum control and reduces HSE risk.
This is the latest in a series of articles by Arend van Campen, founder of TankTerminalTraining. More information on the company’s activities can be found at www.tankterminaltraining.com. Those interested in responding personally can contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.