VAM® Academy training: very demanding and fun
08/06/2018 - Careers, United Kingdom, OCTG, Oil & gas
VAM® Academy trains technicians to ensure that VAM® quality is maintained from the mill to the well.

Rig products, applications and operations are increasingly sophisticated with growing expectations on behalf of customers for high performance, flawless and cost-effective solutions. VAM® Academy answers these issues in agreement with customers' requirements. VAM® Academy is about certifying field technicians and upgrading them into experts able to reach excellence. Because of its high standards, all the attendees have a working knowledge of Vallourec's connections and an extensive experience on the rig before the course.

In 2018, the training took place on a training rig in Aberdeen, Scotland, and was given to twelve participants, among which nine field technicians and three Vallourec employees from backgrounds such as VAM® Service auditors, technical sales marketing, R&D, for whom training is not mandatory but who are interested in specific topics and wish to expand their knowledge.

Eir Kaltvedt, Technical Sales Manager in Norway, was among these employees this year and does not regret entering VAM® Academy: "This training will be extremely useful! Starting today, I am not simply a technical expert because I also know about the life cycle of the products. I also met people who do a job similar to mine, but who come from different cultures and horizons. I was able to forge true connections during this training. If you have an opportunity to follow it, don't hesitate!"

The twelve participants came from different countries, such as the United Kingdom, Norway, United Arab Emirates or France. In the United States, a similar training is given for new arrivals; but for Cole Sebastian and Micah Phillips, the two American VAM® Field Service technicians present at the training, who were more senior than the other participants, VAM® Academy is also a way to share their experience and discuss different practices in different regions. Cole maintains for that matter: "Seeing how VAM® connections react to different dopes allows me to better understand my current job."

VAM® Academy takes place over nine days spread out over two weeks, among which six days of theory and three days of practice. Every theory day is followed by an exam. To pass it, a technician must have a minimum of 90% of correct answers. If they make a mistake, a discussion is established between the tutor and the technician to ensure proper understanding of the error – even if the technician passed the exam. Over all, they are evaluated on no less than 800 questions. After that, the technician can go on the rig, but they have to be assessed on the job by an OPITO Approved Assessor before they can become fully independent.

The three days of practical training are distributed as follows:

  • A day devoted to product identification and the inspection of pipes and connections
  • A day of classical training, when technicians learn the correct product usage methods: final inspection, dope application, stabbing, power tong placement, make-up speeds, make-up graph interpretation
  • A day dedicated to atypical scenarios, when technicians discover the consequences for inadequate usage of dope – for example, by applying dope which was damaged by rain water or sand, which can often happen in certain climates

Alastair Brodie, Senior Technical Manager at Vallourec, says: "To become a qualified VAM® technician, you need:  education, knowledge, skills and experience. VAM® Academy allows them to develop these four features to give our customers the best."

Pierre-Adrien Moisson, Technical Manager VAM® Field Service, concludes: "I want all participants to remember that you cannot accept a make-up just by looking at the graph. You also have to ensure that all previous steps have been respected. It is a series of conditions that add up to an excellent job."

Photo credits: Ray Smith / CAPA Pictures