Operator training at a timber treatment plant takes time and effort but makes a vast difference to the accuracy of the CCA treatment process.
Training motivates the operator − a crucial team member − to take pride in his or her work and produce top-quality treated timber over time, helping to ensure the sustainability of your timber treatment plant.
This is the word from our customers and Dolphin Bay Sales Executive Mark Duckham who, along with our other representatives, provides initial and refresher training to scores of timber treatment plant operators at our customers’ plants each year.
Dolphin Bay provides the training in all the countries where our customers reside. Initial training takes four or five days, after which we visit the client every few weeks, then less frequently over time as the operator gains confidence and experience. We also offer refresher training to all operators every two years.
“It takes about six months to understand the timber treatment process properly. After two years, the operators should be very competent and confident,” commented Mark.
“I see a great change in their attitudes after training. They feel good, realising their job is important. The company, too, gets value from the process, as afterwards they have a more energetic and enthusiastic person, who realises that the treated timber that they produce has important uses in society and that they are playing a part in producing it.”
“Without proper training, operators are simply unable to do their jobs,” said Marius Vermaak, Plant Manager at Treated Timber Products (TTP) (pictured, with the TTP operators).
“If your operator understands the link between retention and cost, and the risk of a poor product if you undertreat, it is worth gold.”
“There are many variables to take into account, and operators must think on their feet.”
TTP ensures that new operators shadow a trained operator before they start the job. It is also important for operators to be supported by technically-minded managers, Marius observed.
During the practical module of Dolphin Bay’s operator training, the operators learn how to follow the correct timber treatment process which, for most of the industry, is the wet-cell process. Training starts with teaching the operators to assess the timber pre-treatment and covers completing the charge sheet books correctly, preparing for the charge and following the seven treatment steps. It ends with post-treatment testing to verify quality.
Once the practical training is completed, theoretical training begins. This covers why timber is treated; the effects of the timber treatment process; the consequences of poor treatment; the value of treated timber compared to the alternatives; the importance of accurate titration; an understanding of retention and penetration; and health and safety.
“Once each section is finished, I ask the operators to write a test on it because there is a lot of information to absorb and it’s hard to remember much of it after a few more hours of training,” says Mark. “The tests are not difficult, but they reinforce the importance of the job, and give us a good baseline to work from, should the operator have difficulty with any section.”
Once training is completed, the operator receives a certificate.
Operators must understand the subtleties of timber treatment, such as how to adjust the solution strength when the timber is wetter or drier than usual due to seasonal fluctuations. “There are so many variables to take into account, that operators must constantly think on their feet,” says Mark.
“It’s very important to hire the right person for this job. It helps to have a very technically minded manager too, who can pick up potential problems every day.”