"A day in the Life of...."
We have produced a series of videos to give an insight into what goes on behind the scenes at PMC and to introduce you to members of the team.
In this video, Project Supervisor Haroon Khan talks about his role at PMC and why he likes working for National Grid.
Joining as an apprentice at PMC
Three years of training may seem like a long time to qualify as a technician when you’re starting your career. But for our Pipelines Maintenance Centre apprentices, the time flew by.
Ian Dalgleish and Sean Hope, now based at the Glasgow depot, share their experience of the apprenticeship scheme and working for PMC.
“Over the past three years, I have been working towards completing my apprenticeship with National Grid. I’ve achieved various qualifications through an apprenticeship scheme and attending college.
It has been challenging but very enjoyable and being away for college was a great opportunity to meet people and make new friends. I have learnt about PMC, what they do and how vital they are in keeping the country running. I know how to operate numerous different types of machinery and equipment and the principles of flowstopping.
This apprenticeship has allowed me to work all over the country and spend time at other depots – such as Knowsley and Hitchin – as the work varies from depot to depot. I have carried out different tasks over the years such as line walking, nitrogen sleeve surveys, ipsco stopples, flow stopping up to intermediate pressure, working on PE pipe and using the squeeze off along with many others. The varied work that PMC carries out ensures that every day is different, and there will always be a challenge that will keep me engaged and enjoying my work.”
“I started my apprenticeship in 2016 and started my training at Eakring. From then I progressed to PMC Glasgow and studied a BTEC at Chester college in mechanical engineering.
My favourite time was getting out on-site to the real world to learn on the job. Straight away, we were thrown into flowstopping jobs, to learn the different types we use. Working with the other technicians and having a mentor helped me learn because they passed on their experience. I am really happy to have a contract in a job I enjoy after my apprenticeship.”
PMC’s aerial team finds new ways of working during Covid-19
PMC’s aerial team fly 12,500km of pipeline every fortnight for the transmission and distribution gas networks. This is a legal requirement to ensure the integrity of the pipeline is not subject to any threats on the ground.
Each trip requires a pilot and an observer, who looks for any potential threats or infringements to the pipeline on the ground. These are then recorded and passed to the network.
Due to their close contact working and being unable to wear masks, the team are isolating outside of work, ensuring no social contact, and even avoiding trips to the supermarket, demonstrating their absolute dedication to the programme of work.
Each team member makes a declaration every day that they have no symptoms prior to alighting the helicopter.
Due to some underlying health issues, the team is reduced, with all leave cancelled during the pandemic. They are working under incredibly tight timescales and have had to adjust their flying schedule as some of their usual fuelling places are now closed. They are also unable to stay in hotels, so have to be very strategic in their planning.
The helicopter is sanitised before and after every trip and if an engineer needs to perform work on the helicopter, it is left for 7 days.
Kevin Robertson, Aerial Survey Co-ordinator said “We have had to very quickly adapt to the new ways of working during Covid-19. Strategic planning is paramount in this situation, due to the lack of fuelling locations and hotels. We have been really lucky with the weather, which has helped with the adaptions and planning. This will be more challenging come winter and we are already thinking about taking to steps to minimise the impact the winter will have if the social distancing measures continue.”
PMC remove defective Pig Trap in record time
A defective pig trap was creating issues such as additional isolations, increased monitoring frequencies and restricting the ability to conduct PSSR and In-line inspections.
PMC were engaged in August 2019 and advised that the works needed to be completed by a critical date of December 31st 2019.
The PMC project team quickly progressed with design options, site surveys, material and stress analysis, weld suitability procedures and material procurement.
Approximately 12 weeks after the initial conversations, the modification approval for phase 1 was issued. The Pig Trap and associated pipework was craned from its existing position after a careful removal operation, successfully removing the asset from the Network.
Phase 2 of the works is due to start in February 2020, where a newly designed and pre-fabricated sub assembly including bridle pipework will be tied in to the new flanged connection point.
Actuator refurbishment at Colmworth leads to cost savings within East area
Investigation of block valves on Feeder 7 helped to identify a new way of rebuilding actuators to improve valve operability and deliver cost savings
While undertaking valve maintenance works within East area, Pipeline Technicians James Harrison and Robin Day discovered that several block valves within the area were inoperable. Block valves isolate sections of a Feeder if required, via an actuator which drives the valve. Upon investigation, they found that block valves at four sites – Colmworth, Murrow, Great Raveley and Whittlesey – were unavailable due to issues with their Ledeen hydraulic actuators.
Starting at Colmworth, they stripped down the actuator to discover the piston and shaft seals had failed. This rendered the valve inoperable.
Working closely with Kevin Paine, PMC Operations Manager at Ambergate, they sourced a complete new seal set for the actuator for £160. The piston cylinders also needed reconditioning which costs £80 per actuator. A complete new actuator costs approximately £15k in parts alone, so this refurbishment work has delivered a significant cost saving.
Following the work at Colmworth, refurbishments have been carried out at Great Raveley and Murrow and they have stripped down the actuator at Whittlesey, ready for rebuild.
James said “So far, we have concentrated our efforts on block valves within the East area, but we are currently in talks with West area, as they have several actuators we are planning to overhaul.
I am really proud of our achievements so far in getting plant status defects shut down. I am hoping to share this best practice across all three operational areas, so that others can rebuild problem actuators at their sites. It has been really rewarding working in such a cost-effective way and taking real pride in our sites”.
A team from PMC transform and revitalise local children’s nursery garden play area!
A small team from PMC Ambergate spent an afternoon giving back to the local community by transforming the play area of its local charity children’s nursery. Ambergate District Nursery has been in the community for over 50 years and relies on charitable donations.
Josh Eades (Project Engineer) says: “The team did amazing work in the time we had. We conducted tasks such as trimming down apple trees and ivy, replacing the sand, constructing a mud pit, laying AstroTurf, de-weeding and pressure washing the entire area, fence painting – you name it we did it!”
Prior to the day, Nick Szczepkowski (PMC’s adult trainee) constructed a tee-pee and a workbench for the children at the depot in Ambergate using reclaimed wood pallets.
Josh continues: “I want to say a big thank you to the team and also to JC Balls of Ambergate who donated the top soil and the sand. It’s great to be able to help the local community and I encourage my colleagues to come up with ideas for the next project.”
The team on the ground was made up of Josh Eades, Darryl Mason, Dale Vyse, Carl Ford, and Maxine Tomkiss.
Team work prevails in 70km charity mountain bike challenge
PMC technicians Rich Wild, Alan Dales, Gary Donaghey and Matt Brough all took part in the race the British Heart Foundation calls its “most technical mountain bike challenge”! Cycling in the Peak District’s Hope Valley with around 500 other riders, the team completed the race in 7 hours, raising around £800 for the British Heart Foundation charity.
Rich Wild says: “Working as a team, we completed ten weeks of intensive training, cycling ten hours per week off-road to ensure we developed our technicals skills ready for the arduous terrain. We had to ensure that our diet was spot on to keep our energy up and we also had to drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
During the race, the scenery was absolutely stunning but the track was very difficult. One of the hills was four miles! Over the course of the race we gained 5000 feet in altitude. There were also really tough downhill sections with boulders and rocks which were quite dangerous.”
Alan Dales says: “It was a great day but tough at the same time! We had some obstacles to overcome on the day, the tyres in my bike were under pressure so I had to spend a while sorting that out before I even got started! We also had a few minor injuries in the team that had been picked up during training so we had to ensure no other injuries happened on the day.
We started as a team and we ended as a team, we all waited for each other and motivated each other through the difficult parts. It was a great team bonding experience.
Thank you to all the generous people at PMC and our friends and family that have sponsored us.”
Valve maintenance solution wins Josh place in national final
Josh Eades, Operations Engineer for Pipelines Maintenance Centre won the semi-final of the IGEM Young Persons paper competition. Josh will now appear in the final in Birmingham on 14 June.
Josh said: “I presented my innovation project on growing a range of technologies which can address aspects of valve maintenance and, specifically, focusing on buried valves which are suffering from corrosion caused by water ingress. The project is structured to identify a number of new ideas, and then challenge their appropriateness using basic engineering tools, in order to produce a short-list of potential solutions, paying attention to 3 main aspects, ‘Assess, Clean and Protect.’ I’m looking forward to representing PMC at the final.”