Boilermaker Spotlight

A Boilermaker is a highly skilled tradesperson who constructs, assembles, maintains and repairs stationary steam boilers, heat exchangers, liquefied natural gas (LNG) processing trains, tanks and vessels. They are responsible for making sure that the storage tanks that hold chemicals and oil and the boilers that heat the liquid used to generate electricity or heat are properly built.

What a typical day looks like:

As with all careers in the construction industry, safety is the top priority. There are hazards associated with this job, so Boilermakers spend a large portion of the day ensuring all safety measures have been met.

During a boiler installation, the Boilermaker aligns structures or plate sections by following blueprint instructions. Next, they use metalworking machinery and other tools to remove irregular edges so that the parts fit together properly. This could include working with crane operators to lift heavy frames into place. Boilermakers then bolt, weld, and rivet the pieces together to create a final product.

Boilers last a long time – sometimes 50 years or more – and Boilermakers must maintain them regularly by repairing and replacing parts. They inspect fittings, feed pumps, safety and check valves, water and pressure gauges, and boiler controls.

Boilermakers are typically employed in the oil and gas services sector of the oil and gas industry. They may be required to be away from home and live in a camp to work shift or extended hours. Their work is physically demanding, and they often work with heavy machinery or power tools at heights.

The kinds of problems Boilermakers solve at work:

Boilermakers test and inspect their work to look for defects. This means that they must be able to identify and repair any problems that appear. This includes cleaning boilers and boiler furnaces and inspecting and repairing boiler fittings such as safety valves, regulators, automatic-control mechanisms, water columns and auxiliary machines. Boilermakers must select the right equipment and repair machines and systems to keep the quality of the boilers and tanks at their best.

Skills used most on the job:

Boilermakers are skilled at welding, fabricating and pipefitting. This unique set of skills is used in fabrication, construction or turnaround maintenance jobs. On top of this, they are precise and pay attention to details. Measurements and cuttings must be exact, sometimes to the nearest millimetre. This means a lot of problem-solving and basic math. Boilermakers are trained to work safely in an environment that often has fumes, intense light and heat, as well as heights. They’re comfortable with noise and confined spaces.

During the industrial revolution, if a piece of equipment was large and made of iron or steel, Boilermakers had their hand in it. So much so that this career earned the name “the labour aristocracy” by historians. Boilermakers remain in demand to fabricate, assemble, test, maintain and repair boilers, tanks and other large containers that hold liquids and gases.

With the growth of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry in Canada, Boilermakers will be in hot demand. Specifically, they will play a role in:

LNG Plant Construction Function with main requirement during Structural/Mechanical/Piping phases.

LNG Upstream Construction Function during later phases.

Turnarounds, shutdowns and maintenance.

Small numbers required during LNG pipeline construction.

One LNG project alone will require up to an estimated 283 Boilermakers

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