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Podcast:  Commissioning

Owner of THI Energy Consultants, Tom Hind, sits down with Thomas Stuenkel of CommissioningCoach.com

Thomas Stuenkel:               

Hello and welcome to Podcast episode number seven of www.CommissioningCoach.com on Air with Thomas Stuenkel. Today I'm very happy to do an interview with Tom Hind from THI Energy Consultants LLC. Hello Tom.

Thomas Stuenkel:              

Hello and welcome to Podcast episode number seven of CommissioningCoach.com on Air with Thomas Stuenkel. Today I'm very happy to do an interview with Tom Hind from THI Energy Consultants LLC. Hello Tom.

Tom Hind:                              

Hey Thomas, nice to be here.

 

Thomas Stuenkel:              

Tom Hind was introduced to electrical work right out of high school by a friend’s father. He saw it as a rewarding way to make good money while learning a trade and traveling. He worked hard and moved up through the field by studying and learning everything possible and taking advantage of opportunities to work closely with engineers and consultants. At 25 years old Tom moved 1,000 miles away to Texas following rumors of a booming oil industry which ultimately lead him to commissioning oil pipelines and facilities.

 

Thomas Stuenkel:              

Tom is a licensed master electrician, a licensed commercial electrical inspector by the International Code Council, and a certified petroleum and gas pipeline inspector by the American Petroleum Institute. Tom, first question, how did you start your career in commissioning?

 

Tom Hind:                              

That's a good question. So basically I was an electrician and I was working with the end phase of trying to get the projects going, trying to work with the operations group and we just found, my friends and I, opportunities to be able to help and go in as third parties from there. We learned that there was a real gap between what common construction consulting companies were offering and what was actually needed out in the field from an operations perspective. We were able to kind of create niches, my friends and I, and we more or less created careers out of it. Then we found that there was an entire world out there for third party commissioning services and we found ourselves where we are today.

 

Thomas Stuenkel:              

Tom, why did you establish your company, THI Energy Consultants LLC, and which services does it offer to the industry?

 

Tom Hind:                              

We started because we saw large gaps in the traditional services offered by companies and we wanted to be able to create an atmosphere that would go in and find customers that had specific needs that we could address with commissioning and testing. The overall transition from the construction phase to the operations and to be able to bring their facilities online. So the major services that we've been able to offer companies have been more or less, they're document control and basic formalities, change of custody forms, being able to manage, control different changes, the various phases in the cycles of the job.

 

Tom Hind:                              

So we found a good group of guys that, are really good with testing electrical systems, instrumentation, we've been able to get groups of guys that are good with paper work and being able to find weaknesses in what operational manuals might be onsite in facilities and just basically being able to take start-up companies and the guys that are not quite ahead of the curve with the industry standards and being able to bring them up where they can compete with the major players that have everything in order the way that we like to see it in the field.

 

Thomas Stuenkel:              

And Tom, what makes THI Energy Consultants different than other firms?

 

Tom Hind:                              

We really pride ourselves on being able to cater to every customers individual needs. Say, we spend a lot of time as a team weekly in meetings and trying to bounce ideas off of each other, trying to discuss where we are as a group, what problems we see and how we can approach each client from an individual perspective but as a group so that we can actually offer well rounded services and a large, a large amount of expertise in different areas to even the smallest customer where they are. Whereas a bigger company might not be able to delegate specific resources to specific projects, it might be too small or it might be too big for some people and we're flexible. That's something that we're really happy about and really prideful for being able, it's something we enjoy doing.

 

Thomas Stuenkel:              

Tom, where is your company operating in the whole U.S.?

 

Tom Hind:                              

Right now we operate right around the West Texas and Southeast New Mexico region. We have worked as far north as North Dakota and Minnesota, way up north close to Canada doing major pipeline facility projects but right now we're centralized around New Mexico and Texas and specifically with oil fields and pipeline pump station type facilities.

 

Thomas Stuenkel:              

Tom in your opinion, what is the greatest danger facing the industry today in regards to testing and commissioning?

 

Tom Hind:                              

I think the biggest risk that I see from a guy who's out in the field every day talking to people, going in multiple facilities for different clients, I think that the danger that I see is not having the qualified staff and people to be able to man up jobs and to safely transition projects into an operating phase and get through construction safely. I think a big risk as far as the United States anyway, I know that there's a lot of access, for normal craft hands I guess, as we call them here, doesn't sound very good to say that but they learn that you can make more money doing testing and start-up as they call it, whatnot and you have a lot of guys that try to jump over and make more money and they're not qualified to do it.

So, we are really interested in being able to create extensive training programs for our people in house and to be able to have something to offer the industry to be able to separate the technicians who are really advanced in their field from the guys who are out there just trying to make a buck. If we can try to figure out a way where we can separate those groups of people then we can really move the industry ahead as a whole but for now I'm afraid that we've got to really use a lot more due diligence when we pick our staff and hopefully we can make a difference over the next three or four years and get some really competent people coming up from the younger ranks and get them moving ahead into the future.

 

Thomas Stuenkel:              

Tom, what is the most rewarding thing about your job?

 

Tom Hind:                              

The most rewarding thing to me is being able to walk in a job for the first time and I know that the construction process has been a complete catastrophe and I can see a young staff of plant personnel, early 30's, mid 30's very little experience, lots of education but they have the most terrified look on their face where they know that they've never operated this facility before, they don't know how to operate it and they're trusting somebody knows how to take the wheel and make something happen.

 

Tom Hind:                              

To be able to walk in and see those people's faces and be the voice of reason and to try to just relax and get everybody understanding that there's a plan despite everything else and all of the signs that make everything appear like there's no hope and then there's somebody that comes in and we can take it over and we can make everything just smoothly finish right up and go in and get the plant started and see those people be able to go to work. I get a lot of satisfaction out of that.

 

Thomas Stuenkel:              

Wow. Great answers. It touches me really, really deeply when you say this. Tom one last question, if you could give just one advice for commissioning of industrial plants to our listeners, what would it be?

 

Tom Hind:                              

I think the most important thing is to understand the systems and to be able to know the process and how fluid flows, where your energy sources come from and to be able to connect all of the dots in your mind before you actually enter the plant. For us to understand that as commissioning agents we have to bridge the gap between the construction group and the operations group who are ultimately take this thing and run with it. To be able to know exactly what pieces to put together and which parts of the puzzle will be missing and most needed at the right places and right times is crucial.

 

Tom Hind:                              

So somebody who will be starting a commissioning career and looking forward to being able to assist these operations to get their facilities online is going to be crucial for those people to understand exactly what their working with and know the process flow and the technical aspects of the job that they're taking on.

 

Thomas Stuenkel:              

Thank you very much Tom for all your great answers and it was a real pleasure to make this interview with you and I hope we can do more interviews in the future.

 

Tom Hind:                              

Thank you. I hope so.

Thomas Stuenkel:               

Thank you very much for listening to this Podcast episode. If you want to do an interview with me, just send me a message through my contact form on www.CommissioningPodcast.com. Have a great and safe week, bye-bye till the next episode, Thomas Stuenkel.