The Illinois, US-based equipment supplier has increasingly become involved in offering a wide range of training events. Several of them in partnership with AsteRisk, a consultancy which offers technical support and compliance assistance to industrial, medical and specialty gas companies. Texas-based AsteRisk’s President, Tom Badstubner, is well known in the industry as an expert in specialty gases and is GAWDA’s FDA food and medical gases and specialty gases consultant.
The training service’s 2020 schedule begins with a specialty gas program (March 30-April 1), which focuses on all aspects of specialty gas filling and testing through classroom and hands-on instruction. Basic and advanced seminars offer the chance for participants to receive certification in specialty gas mixing and gas chromatography.
“In 2020 our facility will be hosting three specialty gas training seminars, a unique ASSE 6015 Bulk Medical Gas Systems Installer training, two industrial fill plant operations seminars, and two safety and compliance seminars,” Hector Villarreal, Weldcoa President, told gasworld.
Participants will be educated at Weldcoa’s newly-renovated specialty gas filling facility for quality training and education, now called the Weldcoa Innovation Center (WIC), in Aurora, IL. The WIC features full functioning industrial and specialty gas filling equipment and automation, meaning courses are not just restricted to the classroom.
Last year’s courses were sold out, prompting Weldcoa to increase what they offer in 2020.
“In 2018, we realised that our customers had either people retiring or turnover issues where they would get young people in, they would be there for a year or so, and then they would leave,” Villarreal said.
“It was getting harder and harder to retrain people. I had several clients explain the situation to me and a couple were asking if we could go on site and do training. I wasn’t sure, because we didn’t have a big enough staff to cover that. At the same time we were re-evaluating the specialty gas training we had been doing at Weldcoa for the last eight years and we decided to reinvest in that facility and make it bigger, so we created a full functioning industrial and specialty gas filling equipment facility and a palletised automated facility, so we could train clients who were filling the traditional manual way, and clients who had automation. There are way more people who are filling industrial gases than specialty gases and our customers recognised right away what a good opportunity this is.
“We contacted a few of our clients who mentioned this and said we had just invested $500,000 in this new facility and we are going to do training, and asked them if they are interested. Every single one of them said yes. The first class we had last October sold out, and we never advertised, every client that we talked to sent two, three or four people, so we were forced to hold a second class to accommodate the people who couldn’t get on the first one. We filled the November class again without any advertising.”
Following the first specialty training course, Weldcoa offers the opportunity to become qualified to install medical gas systems (April 14-16) at the WIC. This training event will help participants meet the standards of ASSE 6000 (American Society of Sanitary Engineers). Certification exams will be offered by the Medical Gas Training Institute, and training is focused on the bulk cryogenic systems outside of the hospital.
“The classroom lectures coupled with the hands-on learning is beneficial to beginners and seasoned veterans alike,” said Kyle Barton, Plant Manager for Holston Gases.
Weldcoa’s fill plant operations training is a three-day classroom lecture with hands-on lab exercises or demonstrations included, designed for any level of fill plant personnel or those who are involved in the gas industry. There is a growing need for operations training in the gas industry in order to strengthen safety, efficiencies and profitability. Many of Weldcoa’s customers have requested this type of training for some time. As well as creating a new facility and developing the training materials, Weldcoa has enlisted some of the top manufacturers in the industry for the courses. The topics will range from proper cylinder care to the filling process and will incorporate a general understanding on the functionality of cryogenic pumps and bulk tanks. Weldcoa offers input from industry leaders such as Chart, Norris, Sherwood, CylTec, FasTest, Nikkiso, Swagelok and Tuthill.
“I’ve been in the industry 25 years, and in that time no one has put on an operations training seminar because politically it’s a nightmare,” Villarreal said. “I have a freedom, because I’m a manufacturer, so I could say: Chart is top of the line, I want them here; Norris Cylinder, is top of the line in what they do, we want them here; Swagelock, FasTest same thing. We asked them to send people to present and send us product, and everybody said yes and sent us samples. I couldn’t believe how eager they were to be a part of this process. The people who are presenting are the leaders in the industry who actually manufacture this thing. It’s not Weldcoa’s vision of how it should be, these are the actual manufacturers saying what’s safe and what isn’t. Nobody has done this before – and we’re pretty proud of that.”
Later in the year, the Professional Compliance Seminar offers the latest certified DOT Function Specific Training and FDA Food/Drug CGMP Training. This is a three-day classroom lecture provided by the GAWDA Consulting Team. This course, presented by Mike Dodd and Tom Badstubner, is designed for fill plant personnel who are in need of up-to-date compliance and safety regulations. A short presentation on the latest technology developed for new markets and needs in the gas industry will be given by Weldcoa’s Don Renner as well.
Weldcoa’s 2020 Class Schedule
Specialty Gas Training Course – Level 1 (Basic)
- March 30 – April 1, 2020 Basic Gravimetric Mixture Filling
- April 1-3, 2020 Basic Gas Chromatography
ASSE 6015 Bulk Medical Gas Systems installer training and certification
- April 14-16, 2020
Fill Plant Operations Training
- April 21-23, 2020
- September 15-17, 2020
Specialty Gas Training Course – Level 2 (Advanced)
- June 15-17, 2020: Advanced Gravimetric Mixture Filling
- June 17-19, 2020: Advanced Gas Chromatography
Specialty Gas Training Course – Level 1 (Basic)
- October 5-7, 2020: Basic Gravimetric Mixture Filling
- October 7-9, 2020: Basic Gas Chromatography