Red Seal Occupational Standard - Instrumentation and Control Technician

Table of contents

The Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) recognizes this Red Seal Occupational Standard (RSOS) as the Red Seal standard for the Instrumentation and Control Technician trade.

Occupational Analyses Series

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

NOC: 2243

Designation Year: 1964

RSOS Products for Download

The Instrumentation and Control Technician Red Seal Occupational Standard (PDF, 7.5 MB) is developed by Canadian trade representatives. It collects information about the trade as it is practiced across Canada.

This RSOS information is combined in several ways to generate several RSOS Products, each of these is based on information contained in the complete RSOS, and is geared to user needs:

RSOS Products for Download
Product Purpose
Red Seal Occupational Standard - Instrumentation and Control Technician (PDF, 7.5 MB) A complete description of all trade activities, skills and knowledge. The Standard defines the trade by collecting and organizing elements together.
Trade Profile - Instrumentation and Control Technician (PDF, 600 KB) A quick snapshot of all trade activities in the standard. It can be used to self-assess experience. It can be used to introduce a concise summary of all trade activities to those wanting to learn about the trade. It can also be used for gap analysis.
Red Seal Examination Preparation Guide - Instrumentation and Control Technician (PDF, 1.7 MB) This document provides a breakdown of the percentage of questions on the Red Seal exam on activities in the trade. It also describes the trade’s skill requirements. It can be used to self-assess and prepare for writing the Red Seal examination.
On-the-job Training Guide - Instrumentation and Control Technician (PDF, 815 KB) Could be a mentoring piece to complement the Curriculum outline.

Can provide journeypersons and apprentices an outline to help guide the teaching of trade skills at a level in advance of apprenticeship technical training.

(please contact your provincial and territorial apprenticeship authority for a more jurisdiction-specific product)

General Information

Description of the Instrumentation and Control Technician Trade

“Instrumentation and Control Technician” is this trade’s official Red Seal occupational title approved by the CCDA. This standard 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:

Table
  NL NS PE NB QC ON MB SK AB BC NT YT NU
Instrumentation and Control Technician x x x x   x x x x        
Instrument Technician                     x    
Industrial Instrument Technician                         x
Industrial Instrument Mechanic                   x   x  

Instrumentation and control technicians are knowledgeable in measurement and automation of process control systems. Examples of industries that use process control systems are oil and gas refineries, power generation plants, pulp and paper mills, and manufacturing facilities.

Instrumentation and control technicians 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 elements such as valves, actuators and positioners to manipulate the process medium. They install and terminate electrical, pneumatic and fluid connections. They may 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 (PLC), Distributed Control Systems (DCS), Human Machine Interfaces (HMI) 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 and power tools, electronic 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; food and beverage processing; pharmaceuticals processing; nuclear, thermal and hydropower generation; landfill/cogeneration; mining; petrochemical; pipeline; oil and gas; military; steel; water and wastewater treatment; medical instrumentation; 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 install and commission new instrumentation systems according to these requirements. They contribute to keeping processes operating and equipment maintained within these set standards, codes and regulations. Keeping up‑to‑date with advances in technology in industry and in the trade is essential.

Instrumentation and control technicians may work in a variety of hazardous environments where they could be exposed to confined spaces, heights, noise, dust, cold and heat. There may also be risks working with chemicals, gases, electricity, radiation, laser equipment and substances under pressure. Instrumentation and control technicians are trained to identify hazards and work safely in these environments.

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

This standard recognizes similarities or overlaps with other tradespersons and professionals such as process operators, steamfitters/pipefitters, boilermakers, industrial mechanics (millwrights), electricians, information technology technicians 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.

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.

The tools are available online or for order at: www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/essential-skills/profiles.html.

The application of these skills may be described throughout this document within the skills and knowledge that support each sub-task of the trade. The following are summaries of the requirements in each of the essential skills, taken from the essential skills profile. A link to the complete essential skills profile can be found at www.red-seal.ca/.

  • Reading

    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, codes and regulations, incident reports, procedures, manuals and notes.

  • Document use

    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, databases, 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

    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.

  • Oral communication

    In order to coordinate work, instrumentation and control technicians interact with other tradespersons and professionals such as process operators, steamfitters/pipefitters, boilermakers, industrial mechanics (millwrights), electricians, information technology technicians and engineers. 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.

  • Numeracy

    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.

  • Thinking

    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 and the installation of new 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.

  • Digital technology

    Instrumentation and control technicians install and service process automation controllers such as PLC, DCS, SCADA systems and HMI. They may use portable digital communication devices to configure settings and to access data such as measurement and operational values. Instrumentation and control technicians may use a variety of software and applications such as word processing software, databases, spreadsheets, communication software and devices, the internet, and computer-assisted design (CAD).

  • Working with others

    Even though instrumentation and control technicians often work alone, they may also work with other tradespersons, professionals and process operators. Instrumentation and control technicians work with process operators to ensure instrumentation is properly maintained and operational and emergencies are handled quickly. They work with other professionals 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.

  • Continuous learning

    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.

Trends in the Instrumentation and Control Technician Trade

Digital Technology

As technology is ever changing, instrumentation and control technicians must forever be adapting to these new technologies. This has increased the need for more technology-driven competencies to perform this trade and an increase in time being spent using digital technology.

Process control systems are increasingly being designed with more components that communicate with one another. Control systems have traditionally been separate entities from the internet. However, in order to keep software up to date, systems now require the ability to connect to the internet to acquire software and licensing. Instrumentation and control technicians must be aware of the use and implications of internet connectivity such as one-way communication devices (data diodes), cyber security and firewalls.

Increasingly, process systems are seeing more automation including HMI, DCS, SCADA, PLC and open systems interconnection (OSI) systems. There is also more automation in networking/communication systems.

Some applications of wireless technologies are being introduced for functions such as monitoring process systems and meter verification.

Predictive technologies are increasingly being used in process optimization. Trends in optimization will require that the instrumentation and control technician be knowledgeable in the use of advanced diagnostics.

Tools and Equipment

Portable digital communication devices are being used to diagnose and perform tasks more efficiently and effectively.

Quality Acceptance

When installing and replacing parts, there is an increase in the need to perform quality acceptance activities and properly document and store this information to meet regulatory requirements and traceability.

Health and Safety

An increased emphasis on safety in the workplace has led to an increase in documentation for instrumentation and control technicians.

There are more safety instrumented systems (SIS) being implemented. This requires that instrumentation and control technicians be familiar with the functioning of these systems.

Regulations

There is a continued increase in industry practices for environmental monitoring driven by governmental regulations. This has increased the workload of instrumentation and control technicians in areas such as reporting on carbon capture and emissions.

Industry expected performance

All tasks must be performed according to the applicable jurisdictional codes, regulations and standards. All health and safety standards must be respected and observed. Work should be done efficiently and to a high quality without material waste or environmental damage. All requirements of employers, engineers, designers, manufacturers, clients and quality control policies must be met. At a journeyperson level of performance, all tasks must be done with minimal direction and supervision. As a journeyperson progresses in their career, there is an expectation they continue to upgrade their skills and knowledge to maintain pace with industry and promote continuous learning in their trade through mentoring of apprentices.

Language requirements

It is expected that journeypersons are able to understand and communicate in either English or French, which are Canada’s official languages. English or French are the common languages of business as well as languages of instruction in apprenticeship programs.

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 thanks are offered to the following representatives who contributed greatly to the original draft of the standard and provided expert advice throughout its development:

  • Jim Armstrong - British Columbia
  • Adam Beck - United Association Canada
  • Roger Blanchard - Nova Scotia
  • Terence Côté - Saskatchewan
  • Jonathan Davis - New Brunswick
  • Brad Gautreau - Ontario
  • Mike Hillsdon - Saskatchewan
  • James Howard - Yukon
  • Alex LeBlanc - Nova Scotia
  • Roger Leblanc - New Brunswick
  • Tim J. Lloyd - Alberta
  • Scott Marr - Ontario
  • Wade McNenly - Alberta
  • Scott Sanders - Manitoba
  • Shane Stirling - British Columbia

This standard was prepared by the Apprenticeship and Sectoral Initiatives Directorate of ESDC. The coordinating, facilitating and processing of this standard was undertaken by employees of the standards development team of the Trades and Apprenticeship Division and of Alberta, the host jurisdiction for this trade.

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