Pipers complete certification criteria rewrite
By: William G. Beazley, PhD, Executive Director
Two teams of senior piping designers have completed the first major overhaul of the Society of Piping Engineers and Designers’ (SPED) Professional Piping Designer (PPD) certification program. The program has been in use since 2003 based on criteria developed by a consensus of senior pipers and perfected by hundreds of trainees and test takers. The revision this year changes and clarifies the criteria for all levels of the four level program.
SPED’s PPD program has four distinct levels:
• PPD Level I — Piping drafting plus extended knowledge of “ilities” impacting pipe routing.
• PPD Level II — PPD Level I plus ability to assure preparation, correctness and completeness of pipe routings in CAD on drawings and in the field.
• PPD Level III — PPD Level II plus ability to place, elevate, orient and separate equipment considering applicable functions and “ilities.”
• PPD Level IV — PPD Level II plus ability to plan, schedule, cost, supervise and assure piping tasks from FEED to closeout for greenfield and brownfield projects, pipe routing to key equipment nozzles considering operations and maintenance plus years of experience.
Levels II and IV lacked formal exams and were assigned based on performance on PPD Level I and III exams respectively, plus reviews of experience.
One team addressed the Level II criteria. Led by Ron Waldon and Lee Jewell, both of C&I Engineering, and Keith McKinney of Piping Layout Consultants Inc., The team focused on what skills are expected of a piper with four years of on-the-job experience routing pipe and examining it in the field. As a result, the criteria for Levels I and III were also revised as greater competency in beginner skills were established and so routing skills were pulled back from the equipment layout skills of Level III.
Another team addressed the full scope leadership skills of PPD Level IV. They were led by Al Worth of WorleyParsons and assisted by Richard Beale of Cenovus Energy, Paul Bowers of SNC Lavalin and James Pennock, retired. Beale and Bowers, with Peter Smith, have authored a recent book, “The Planning Guide to Piping Design.” Pennock authored the classic book, “Piping Engineering Leadership for Process Plant Projects.” Both books greatly influenced the new criteria and are considered textbooks for preparing for Level IV exams.
The Level IV team also developed a review form for referees to rate the candidates on the various criteria.
A portion of the rating sheet is shown in Figure 1.
Each team submitted their proposals to the larger PPD Advisory Committee for comment and later to the SPED Board of Directors for final approval. The criteria will be published in the evaluation form format for use
by candidate referees.
The new review forms make the skills required of pipers clear, unambiguous and measurable. A common question asked by PPD candidates is, “I have enough years of experience for Level ‘X.’ Why was I denied that certification?” Most ratings that are lower than calendar years’ experience might indicate are due to lack of experience in the target skills and/or poor readiness ratings by references. The forms make this process more transparent. As many employers are including PPD certification in their employee performance reviews and compensation decisions, transparency and clarity are important.
Question banks for exams testing to the new criteria have also been developed and are undergoing review. Course developers, such as this writer, should be able to author courses and texts meeting the new criteria.
The new criteria will aid piping designers worldwide in deciding for which PPD certification level they are prepared and provide guidance for their career in piping design.
For more information on SPED or to contact Beazley, visit www.spedweb.com or call (832) 286-3404.