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The Multi-Faceted Role of Colonial's Operators

by Ryan Rogers | May 18, 2018

Colonial's operators work at our tank farm facilities and play an important part in ensuring the pipeline runs smoothly and safely. They have responsibilities that range from operating pumps and monitoring temperature levels to documenting facility processes and procedures. 

At Colonial, we have three distinct operator positions: B Operator, A Operator and Lead Operator. Each one has daily, weekly and monthly responsibilities, and B and A Operators are supervised by the Lead Operator. To be successful in these roles, constant teamwork and communication within this group are crucial.

B Operators
B Operators are responsible for all outside activities at tank farms. Their daily checklist of activities includes at least six perimeter security checks; opening and closing dike drains to release water around tanks if there's a storm; gathering readings from equipment to ensure safe operations and quality assurance; and testing/documenting batch changes. The latter is important because Colonial's Control Center needs to know whether to monitor or anticipate batch changes downstream.

On a monthly basis, the B Operator inspects and inventories tanks and, when necessary, conducts tank-to-tank transfers. Transfers are more common during the transition from winter to summer grade gasoline. Other responsibilities include assisting technicians with maintenance, draining pumps, loading and launching smart pigs and inspecting fire extinguishers.

Another crucial monthly responsibility of B Operators is documenting leak detection and conducting repairs. Checking for leaks occurs daily, but is documented once a month to stay in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. During this check, the top of each access well is removed and inspected, as well as any equipment that touches gasoline.

B Operators are also trained to fill in for A Operators.

A Operators
A Operators typically work in the office at the tank farm and are responsible for day-to-day operations. They closely monitor the interaction between tank farm lines and main lines. If a product batch is being wiped out, this individual opens and closes the take-off and block valves. Any time product flows into a facility, the A Operator is controlling the take-off valve. The A Operator also swaps units on stub lines under the direction of the Control Center.

Other responsibilities include managing the stock book, by entering upcoming batches from the E-Batch Queue, Colonial's electronic system that manages the Main line and Stub line batches into the stockbook, which is their way of verifying that the tank has the capacity or volume for the scheduled batches.  A Operators fill in for B Operators.

Lead Operators
Lead Operators oversee all day-to-day operations at tank farms and outlining stations and are the eyes and ears of the Area Operations Manager (OM). Their job is to assist the OM by checking A, B and Sr. Operator documentation for completion and accuracy. Leads have a number of administrative duties, such as approving invoices and timesheets, writing purchase orders and conducting employee assessments.

Lead Operators schedule training classes, conduct monthly safety meetings and participate in PHMSA audits. They also check line and booster stations for inconsistencies and manage the hazardous waste pad, where hazardous drums are stored for pickup.

All operators -- whether A, B or Lead – have excellent problem solving and communication skills, in addition to the technical and safety expertise required of their particular job role. All of these skills are essential for preventing accidents and ensuring the safe operation of the pipeline.