The Unilever Gloucester factory is one of the largest ice cream producers in the UK. It manufacturer’s a range of products under the iconic Wall’s brand.
The primary refrigeration system; which serves low temperature freezing process loads across the facility; is large, complex and operates with ammonia as its refrigerant. STS has worked with the Unilever Gloucester engineering team for many years, providing a range of support, including: regulatory compliance, specialist consultancy and bespoke training.
The regulatory compliance support has consisted of the preparation of Written Schemes of Examination and their on-going associated inspections, under the requirements of the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations (PSSR) 2000, and the preparation of a site Ammonia Hazard Assessment, under the requirements of the Dangerous Substances & Explosive Atmosphere Regulations (DSEAR) 2002 and the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) 1999.
The specialist consultancy has included a range of functions from technical specification preparation, to design & installation documentation review, to HAZOP studies.
The bespoke training involved the review and validation of Unilever staff Service Engineer competencies, as they related to their role in operating & maintaining the ammonia refrigeration system. The exercise had several elements to it including:
- The preparation of a multi-choice questionnaire that covered the range of requirements associated with the role of Service Engineer at the facility. It included elements such as system design and operation, ammonia safety, electrics, maintenance and repair procedures, i.e. evacuation and dehydration, pressure testing, refrigerant charging, oil draining, instrument calibration, etc. and troubleshooting.
- The Unilever staff Service Engineer walking the site refrigeration system with the STS assessor, to confirm their understanding of specific elements of plant and the nature of their operation, maintenance and repair.
- The Unilever staff Service Engineer completing the questionnaire which was then checked and scored. Following this the Service Engineer was interviewed, the basis of the interview being the completed questionnaire, where opportunities were provided for them to expand on the answers they had given. The interview ensured that answers provided in the questionnaire were supported orally, confirming the true level of understanding.
Following this exercise STS graded the Service Engineer and suggested, where appropriate, additional training that would benefit the individual.
At the end of the exercise the Unilever Gloucester management and the individual Service Engineers had a clearer understanding of where they stood in terms of competence and just as importantly what could be done additionally to improve their capability.