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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Who to employ? – unravelling Instrumentation qualifications

Over the past weeks many people have inquired about other formal qualifications in the Instrumentation and control field. In this post I hope this clear it all up any confusion from what is a confusing situation. This text applies only to Queensland training as I am not fully aware of when instrumentation training started in other states.
In Queensland instrumentation started in 1979. The course was called CN154 and basically covered many subjects not now in the current qualifications. This was the first of the instrumentation qualifications in Queensland and the outcome was a called a Fitter (instrumentation ) with a full restricted electrical license. Within this course was a full year of electrical training including all electrical theory now in the electrical course including  motors, generators, wiring etc as well as analogue and digital  electronics, pneumatics and all facets of instrumentation used in laboratories, quarries, gas plants, heavy refining industries and water sewage .
Over the years the trade has been minimized in some areas and expanded in others.  So it has been quite  a difficult prospect when one sits down and looks how the subjects related over the years. Having  done this I notice there are many gaps between training packages. .

All the MEM training packages in Queensland were a dual trade, 5 year apprenticeship.  As stated in the earlier blog this equated to the dual trade in the UEE package.
Here is a historical list of Instrumenatation qualifications

CN154 1985-1995 Fitter Instrumentation with full restricted electrical license 4 years
MEM40198 - 1998 Dual trade electrical instrumentation 5 years

MEM30498 - 1998 Instrumentation trade only 4 years
MEM40103 - 2003 Dual trade electrical instrumentation 5 years

MEM40105 - 2005 Dual trade electrical instrumentation 5 years
(UEE) CN100 ELK1C 1990 -1997 Dual trade electrical instrumentation 5 years

CN100 ELK1B 1990-1997 Sugar industry only did stage 2 instrumentation and full electrical course
UEE30809 1997-2009 instrumentation only 4 years

UTE39036 1997 – 2009 Dual trade electrical instrumentation 5 years
UEE31207 2009 March 2012 instrumentation only

UEE31210 (this one was only around for a very short time)
UEE 31211 current qualifications:  instrumentation only 4 years

UEE 30811/31211 current qualification: Dual trade electrical instrumentation 5 years
Now the problem is that over the years the qualifications have changed.  Some subjects have been dropped and others added.

Also there is an issue called “currency”.  Currency is whether the knowledge you have gained is relevant to the modern instrumentation industry today.

When I did my trade in 1979 we worked mostly in 4-20 mA loops, links and levers, electronics, electrical and pneumatic based instrumentation.
Some of the gear I worked on included mercury filled differential pressure flow meters designed by George Kent in the early 20tth century.   Now days that is all different we delve mostly in current /digital loops, protocols, DDC, some pneumatics and internet applications. Hart communicators and process calibrators are the norm today as is PLC applications, SCADA and Distributed control systems. In my day they were new.

So if one was trained in a course older than 5 years it is safe to say that there would be some subjects that that person may not have completed in the trade but could be deemed competent through an RPL activity.   As many instrumentation people I know still work in the industry they have been upskilled over the year. The basics of theory are the same when it comes to flow pressure level temperature process control and valves but the calibration and usage may have changed.  

This is what an RPL activity can do recognise areas that may need revisiting or upskilling in.  So to be current, as well have all done or are doing here now with teachers, we are upskilling through an RPL activity to obtain the new qualification. There has been a lot of change in some process and new solar and renewable energy applications. We are also heavily involved in the internet and networking capabilities now as with the introduction of foundation fieldbus and other protocols.  In my opinion if I was to maintain my currency I would go through an RPL process and see what new areas I would need to learn. This trade is changing all the time and in the future will be the forefront of all communications applications in plants.
Being in the field for over 30 years and being a teacher for half of that I keep my skills up to date by going back into industry and working with the new equipment.  Also where I work we only use the equipment industry now use so that people we train are work ready when returning to their worksite.

There is one qualification I have seen on the blog which I have little knowledge about UEE 42211.  This qualification is the next step for people who have UEE 31211 but it is mostly Hazardous areas subjects.  UEE 40411 only covers stage two instrumentation and UEE 42211 could be used for gaining the stage three instrumentation but will not give you a trade qualification.  I hope this clears it all up any confusion.

Mal in foreground with the SkillsTech Electrotechnology  team.


Malcolm Garrick
Business Manager - Delivery Teams
Educational Delivery
T: +617 3259 3052
M: +614 0759 0901
F: +617 3259 3078

A: 776 Kingsford Smith Drive, Eagle Farm, 4009


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