Setting up a training department for seals, bearings and pumps. 17-02

I often get e-mail inquiries asking about how to set up a pump and seal training program within a company. The inquiry almost always refers to a "hands on program" implying that this should be the program of choice. Is there a way to set up such a program?

Sure you can! You can teach lots of "hands on" skills such as:

But, if you want to teach troubleshooting skills, you need a different plan. This is knowledge training and "hands on " doesn't enter into it. Here are a few examples of "knowledge training":

This knowledge training is a very big subject and it would be a miracle if you had anyone in your facility capable of teaching it to your mechanics. I hear of people in the shop with thirty years of experience. After asking these experienced people a few questions I usually find that they don't have thirty years of experience. What they really have is one year of experience thirty times!

Want a simple proof of what I am saying? Here is a quick test. Go to your shop and inspect seals that've been removed from your pumps. If the seal ran properly and got good life, the sacrificial carbon face will have been worn away. Like an automobile tire tread, the carbon seal face is the only part of a seal designed to wear. If carbon remains, the seal experienced a premature failure. You'll lucky if you can find even one worn out seal in your facility.

Look at the condition of the pump shaft under the grease, or lip seals that are supposed to be protecting the bearings. The shaft will be cut or grooved in this location. Ask your most experienced people why the shaft is grooved. See if you can find a shaft that is not damaged in this location. If they tell you the groove is being caused by dirt or solids trapped between the seal and the shaft, you're being told an untruth.

If you had anyone capable of teaching these subjects you would not find used mechanical seals with carbon seal face remaining or grooved shafts. If the potential teacher knew how to fix those problems they would have done it by now.

So what do you do to get your mechanics trained? To begin with, forget about training everybody. Stick with the "hands on "stuff. There are plenty of outside firms that will teach your people alignment, vibration analysis, dynamic balancing, seal installation etc… Hopefully they learned their mechanics craft with some program initiated by your company.

You only need one or two people capable of doing real troubleshooting. Once they have determined the cause of the premature failure I am sure you have plenty of capable mechanics that have the physical skills to change the necessary components or modify the hardware to make it work once they know what has to be done.

The knowledge skills are different. Select your best students and get them to the appropriate seminars. Buy them good books and send them to the manufacturer's facilities for training on specific pieces of hardware. It'll be a big investment and you'll have a hard time holding on to those people once they become skilled, but there's no shortcut to knowledge.


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