May 21, 2020
Allure of record PIG run pulls retired TransCanada pipeliner from pasture
Multi-generational workforce combines to set new bar in gas pipeline inspections, helps energize company’s crop of new recruits
In Part 1 of our series, we told you how a “crazy” idea from front-line employees to run a PIG (Pipeline Inspection Gauge) almost 1,000 kilometres in a gas pipeline energized the TransCanada workforce to overcome challenges and resulted in a North American record and a new standard in gas pipeline inspections. In Part 2, we'll explore the makeup of that workforce and the multi-generational collaboration that went into making the project a success.
It took a 10,500-pound hog to convince Darcy Stanick that it wasn't quite time to fully close the barn doors on a 33-year TransCanada career.
The 58-year-old Senior Inline Inspection Co-ordinator had already uprooted to Vancouver Island when the allure of a record-setting PIG run brought him back to the company.
The company knew that to get the job done well, Stanick's experience coordinating hundreds of career PIG runs would be needed. Besides his expertise, Stanick quickly took on the role as project mentor to some of the younger workers on the team.
Joining other experienced workers like Lyle Patzer, who himself put off retirement to see the project through, Stanick and his senior colleagues quickly commanded respect of the younger workforce.
"You know it's good to get the younger guys introduced to the older guys because they're learning something every time," said Stanick. "When these older guys speak it's a good time to listen. Because they're passing off so much knowledge and information. Once these guys leave it's gone."
Just two years into his career, 26-year-old Inline Inspection Coordinator Philip Retzlaff soaked up every word.
“To have the older, experienced guys to be working with like Darcy, who has seen tons of inspections and done lots of different work on this pipeline in different roles, brings in a sense of levelheadedness when a situation comes up and I may not know which way to react,” said Retzlaff.
“You can turn to him and lean on him a little bit and he’ll be able to guide you through what to do. When you come to a project like this, there’s lots of different things that are going on. It’s sometimes easy to lose focus or think that something is a big deal or critical and it could be easily mitigated.”
Carla Morris, Director of TransCanada's Central Region Gas Operations, said pulling off a project of this magnitude involved input from workers just apprenticing with the company to those who have been with TransCanada as long as 45 years.
"The guys who are getting closer to retirement are still very, very passionate about what they do," said Morris. "They're very eager to make TransCanada a good place to work. They have a great safety attitude and a lot of really valuable information to pass along.
"Passing that information along and that knowledge along to a group of younger technicians coming up who have that same pride of ownership, the same passion for doing the right thing, it's energizing on both ends," Morris continued. "And I actually think it makes us a stronger workforce. It makes for a more vibrant, a happier and a more productive workplace."
Retzlaff said he recognizes how fortunate he is to already have chalked up a career highlight, just two years out of school.
"As a young professional you try to choose a career path and education where you can make a difference in one way or another and really feel like you are contributing to whatever company or industry you are working with," he said.
"Two years into my career, to be able to be part of a project like that that has the potential to have a significant impact not only to TransCanada but to the entire industry, it's just really neat to be part of something of that significance, so early."
Project Manager Sheshi Epur considers the run one of the biggest achievements of his career and said it further cements TransCanada as the industry leader in pipeline safety and integrity.
"This in a way is the beginning of the new generation of where things can be taken to," said Epur. "It gives us the confidence, the initial beginning into a futuristic world where we can start pushing more and more boundaries."
READ MORE ABOUT TRANSCANADA'S COMMITMENT TO SAFETY