Instrumentation and Control Technician – National Occupational Analysis (NOA)

The Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) recognizes this National Occupational Analysis (NOA) as the national standard for the occupation of Instrumentation and Control Technician.

Occupational Analyses Series

Disponible en français sous le titre : Technicien/technicienne en instrumentation et contrôle

NOC: 2243

Designation Year: 1964

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General Information

Scope

“Instrumentation and Control Technician” is this trade’s official Red Seal occupational title approved by the CCDA. This analysis covers tasks performed by instrumentation and control technicians whose occupational title has been identified by some provinces and territories of Canada under the following names:

NL

NS

PE

NB

QC

ON

MB

SK

AB

BC

NT

YT

NU

Industrial Instrument Mechanic

x

x

x

x

Industrial Instrument Technician

x

x

Instrument Technician

x

x

Instrumentation and Control Technician

x

x

x

x

Instrumentation and control technicians are knowledgeable in overall plant systems and the interactions of processes. They install and service a variety of systems including safety and security, energy delivery (hydraulic, pneumatic and electrical), communication, and process control systems. They also install and service measuring and indicating instruments to monitor process control variables, monitor the operation of equipment and measure the characteristics of the material within a process. Instrumentation and control technicians work with final control devices such as valves, actuators and positioners to manipulate the process medium. They install and terminate electrical, pneumatic and fluid connections. They also work on network and signal transmission systems such as fibre optic and wireless.

Along with the calibration, repair, adjustment and replacement of components, instrumentation and control technicians inspect and test the operation of instruments and systems to diagnose faults and verify repairs. They establish and optimize process control strategies, and configure related systems such as Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), Distributed Control Systems (DCSs), Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. Instrumentation and control technicians maintain backups, documentation and software revisions as part of maintaining these computer-based control systems. Scheduled maintenance and the commissioning of systems are also important aspects of the work. Instrumentation and control technicians consult technical documentation, drawings, schematics and manuals. They may assist engineering in plant design, modification and hazard analysis, and work with plant operators to optimize plant controls.

Instrumentation and control technicians use hand, power and electronic tools, test equipment, and material handling equipment. They work on a range of instruments including primary control elements, transmitters, analyzers, sensors, detectors, signal conditioners, recorders, controllers and final control elements. These instruments measure and control variables such as pressure, flow, temperature, level, motion, force and chemical composition.

Instrumentation and control technicians work in various industrial sectors such as pulp and paper/fibre processing; nuclear, thermal and hydro power generation; mining; petrochemical; oil and gas; steel; water treatment; manufacturing; and industrial/commercial instrument servicing.

When performing their duties, instrumentation and control technicians must comply with federal, jurisdictional, industrial and site-specific standards, codes and regulations. They must ensure that all processes operate and are maintained within these set standards, codes and regulations. Keeping up-to-date with advances in technology in industry and the trade is important.

Instrumentation and control technicians can work in hazardous environments where they may be exposed to confined spaces, heights, noise, dust, cold and heat. There may also be risks with working with chemicals, gases, radiation, laser equipment and substances under pressure.

Key attributes for people entering this trade are manual dexterity, attention to detail, strong problem solving skills, communication skills, technological aptitude and mathematical and scientific aptitude.

This analysis recognizes similarities or overlaps with other tradespersons and professionals such as process operators, steamfitters/pipefitters, industrial mechanics (millwrights), electricians and engineers.

With experience, instrumentation and control technicians may act as mentors and trainers to apprentices in the trade. They may also move into supervisory, design, advanced control, training, sales and other related positions.

Occupational Observations

Computers have become a common tool in the industry, from administrative to diagnostics and everyday maintenance tasks.

There is an increase in the performance of devices adding functionality such as smart maintenance indicators and the generation of internal faults and alarms therefore reducing basic preventative maintenance requirements.

Control systems network technologies and equipment are becoming less proprietary and borrow from IT technology networks. There is an increase in the use of PLCs for process control. PLC and DCS based control systems are increasingly merging in functionality.

Device bus networking and technologies are replacing single end run cabling, bringing down the cost of installation but increasing complexities of control systems. Wireless based networks for monitoring remote locations are reducing cabling requirements. This improves transmission speed, distances and information capacity.

There is a demand to utilize the advances in technology in industry which has found its way into almost all aspects of the trade. With this demand, the process of diagnostics and repair continues to evolve, placing an increased demand on instrumentation and control technicians to follow the pace of these advances. For example, there is a rise in the use of mass flowmeters for process monitoring and custody transfer. A mass flow transmitter replaces several single variable transmitters, reducing instrumentation and cabling requirements. Multiphase flow metering is another emerging technology.

There is a continued increase in industry practices for environmental monitoring driven by governmental regulations. More instrumentation equipment specific to environmental monitoring is now required. The maintenance and reporting of this equipment has become an important part of the technician’s duties.

Reliability centered maintenance and process safety management including safety instrumented systems (SISs) are becoming more common in industry.

There is an increased focus on safety which results in industry adopting new practices such as pre-job hazard assessments and mandated development of safe work procedures.

Essential Skills Summary

Essential skills are needed for work, learning and life. They provide the foundation for learning all other skills and enable people to evolve with their jobs and adapt to workplace change.

Through extensive research, the Government of Canada and other national and international agencies have identified and validated nine essential skills. These skills are used in nearly every occupation and throughout daily life in different ways.

A series of CCDA-endorsed tools have been developed to support apprentices in their training and to be better prepared for a career in the trades. The tools can be used independently or with the assistance of a tradesperson, trainer, employer, teacher or mentor to:

  • understand how essential skills are used in the trades;
  • learn about individual essential skills strengths and areas for improvement; and
  • improve essential skills and increase success in an apprenticeship program.

Tools are available online or for order.

The application of these skills may be described throughout this document within the competency statements which support each subtask of the trade. The following are summaries of the requirements in each of the essential skills, taken from the essential skills profile.

Instrumentation and control technicians require reading skills to locate and interpret technical information for their trade. These texts include technical articles about new products and industry practices, bulletins from manufacturers and on health and safety, calibration and service guides, incident reports, procedures, manuals and notes.

Instrumentation and control technicians locate and interpret information in both print and electronic formats. Types of documents referenced include computer printouts with numeric information, supplier catalogue listings and engineering documentation such as forms, graphs, tables, charts, schematics, assembly diagrams and drawings. They may also create documents such as on-site sketches and detailed schematics, assembly drawings, graphs and charts.

Writing skills are used by instrumentation and control technicians to create parts lists, maintenance schedules, and inspection reports. Instrumentation and control technicians write procedures for the control and operation of equipment and to troubleshoot faults. They use writing skills when communicating through e-mail and providing status updates in logbooks.

Instrumentation and control technicians must apply measurement and calculation, data analysis and numerical estimation skills to their tasks. Some of these tasks include measuring analyzer malfunctions, calculating flow, calculating volume displacement, monitoring pressure, interpreting deviations on graphs, and comparing values and measurements. Instrumentation and control technicians evaluate sets of data collected from tests and simulations to troubleshoot faults, assess equipment performance and assess the progress of wear.

In order to coordinate work, instrumentation and control technicians interact with other tradespeople such as steamfitter/pipefitters, welders, machinists, electricians and industrial mechanics (millwrights). They may also discuss systems design and problems with supervisors and engineers, and provide expert advice and opinion. Instrumentation and control technicians also exchange technical repair and troubleshooting information and speak to process operators about equipment and machinery breakdown. At times, they may make formal presentations to explain monitoring procedures or new equipment.

Instrumentation and control technicians troubleshoot malfunctions, take corrective measures to avoid potential hazards and decide whether to repair or replace components based on time and cost factors. They plan and organize maintenance schedules, the installation of new machinery and the tradespeople assigned to install the machinery. Instrumentation and control technicians must be able to think quickly and synthesize the information at hand to deal with emergencies such as serious equipment malfunctions that could cause injury, or property and environmental damage.

Instrumentation and control technicians install and service programmable process control systems such as PLCs, DCSs, SCADA systems and HMIs. They may use hand held digital devices to configure settings and to access data such as measurement and operational values. Instrumentation and control technicians may use word processing software, databases, spreadsheets, communication software and devices, the Internet, and computer-assisted design (CAD), manufacturing or machining software depending on the task at hand.

Even though instrumentation and control technicians often work alone, they may also work with other tradespeople, professionals and process operators. Instrumentation and control technicians work with process operators to ensure instrumentation is properly maintained and emergencies are handled quickly. They work with other tradespeople to perform functions such as testing transmitters or controllers, and installing control valves. Instrumentation and control technicians sometimes work as part of a crew, for example when running wires. In doing so they may fill the role of either team member or team leader on project teams.

Instrumentation and control technicians may attend training in areas that are new or continually evolving in the trade such as safety, digital technology and more sophisticated computer applications relating to process control. They may attend technical courses offered by suppliers’ representatives covering new equipment, as well as team leadership/communication seminars. Continuous learning also occurs through the reading of technical literature and by troubleshooting.

Acknowledgements

The CCDA and ESDC wish to express sincere appreciation for the contribution of the many tradespersons, industrial establishments, professional associations, labour organizations, provincial and territorial government departments and agencies, and all others who contributed to this publication.

Special acknowledgement is extended by ESDC and the CCDA to the following representatives from the trade.

  • Paul Brown - Manitoba
  • Wayne Dove - Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Chad Drummond - Prince Edward Island
  • Chris Hamel - Saskatchewan
  • Liam Holland - Nova Scotia
  • Herve Laforest - Alberta
  • Brian Perreault - Ontario
  • Shane Stirling - British Columbia

This analysis was prepared by the Labour Market Integration Directorate of ESDC. The coordinating, facilitating and processing of this analysis were undertaken by employees of the NOA development team of the Trades and Apprenticeship Division. The host jurisdiction of Alberta also participated in the development of this NOA.

Comments or questions about National Occupational Analyses may be forwarded to:

Trades and Apprenticeship Division
Labour Market Integration Directorate
Employment and Social Development Canada
140 Promenade du Portage, Phase IV, 6th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec  K1A 0J9
Email: redseal-sceaurouge@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca

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