Practical training period in Kilpilahti, Porvoo
I completed my practical training period as an operator at Borealis Polymers Oy Cracker plant. This article reflects the challenges faced as the workforce starts to retire.
Borealis came to existence in 1994 as the Finnish Neste Oil and Norwegian Statoil combined their polymer manufacturing units. Later Borealis has been sold to Austrian OMV and Abu Dhabi based company called IPIC. The plants are quite a bit older than that though, the cracker plant being the oldest which started its operation in 1971. Many of the most experienced operators have started their working career in the 70’s and are now in the twilight of their career.
When the cracker plant first started production, automation wasn’t where it is today. Operators had to manage the plant with huge operation tables with switches for every machine. As the plant was hard to operate, it was “down” frequently. These circum-stances made the operators very knowledgeable of their plant and today they are critical to the unusual situations Borealis faces today.
As automation and computer technology have evolved, the cracker plant has become easier to operate but when something unexpected happens, operators need to have de-tailed knowledge of the machines and processes they operate. The older operators have this knowledge, but the younger ones don’t. The challenge is to transfer this knowledge to the new generation of operators in Borealis in a quick way to ensure the safe and pro-ductive operation of the cracker plant in the future.
Research question: How to transfer the knowledge of the older operators to the new generation of operators in a quick way?