Quality management within the pipeline industry is based on a system of competencies, both individual competencies and corporate competencies. In general, the average age of Pipeline Engineers is increasing which can result in loss of specific corporate competencies when transfer of individual competencies and knowledge is not properly managed.
Industry is well aware of the primary skills gaps which results from an aging workforce and insufficient rate of transfer of capability between individuals. The second, and often unacknowledged skills gap encompasses those skills which are required to implement, and in the longer term maintain a digitised business model in the pipeline engineering industry.
The authors are in the process of implementing the Digital Future Strategy within Penspen. One requirement of the implementation has been consideration of future assessment processes in a digital world. A future process may involve loading raw data into a computer programme, and for the programme to deliver an automated first level report. But at what point would black-boxing of the process result in a lower personal competency requirement and would this even be desirable to industry.
A digitised process can offer a common global level of quality; however, where a proper integrative competency management process is not implemented this can be expected to result in a lowering of the average individual competency portfolio over a longer time period. Digitalisation has the potential to be a both a driver for rapid initial improvement within industry at the risk of the long-term maintenance of competency.
The authors will present findings and experience gained as part of implementing the Penspen Digital Future Strategy. The authors will identify pitfalls and mitigations to improve retention and improvement of corporate competency.