With many industrial projects either complete or temporarily paused, my local landscape of technical writing opportunities is looking a bit parched. Several of the local potash mines have completed expansion projects in recent years, at the same time as a couple of greenfield mines have started construction. One of these is nearing completion and the other seems to be in a slow mode. With potash prices weaker than a few years ago, the industry appears to be heading for retrenchment.
Other industries appear to be exhibiting similar trends. SaskPower’s carbon capture project is essentially complete. Recent news indicates they still have some work to on increasing its efficiency, but so far as I can tell, their technical writing needs are covered, for now. Local upgrades to power generation facilities also appear to be winding down. Oil and gas is “in the tank”, so to speak, and oil companies are pulling back significantly. Based on my research not a lot is happening in other industries either.
That doesn’t mean nobody needs technical writing services. Based on the work I’ve done for many different clients over the years, all process industries should have an ongoing strategy for document maintenance and updating. And there are good reasons to continue that through the slow times as well as when business is booming.
Nothing remains constant in the operation of process plants. Whether slow or busy, operations and maintenance personnel are always finding new, better and safer ways to operate their plants. Equipment maintenance is even more important when capital expenditures have been curtailed, and this often reveals gaps and inadequacies in procedures and training materials. During slow times hiring staff to write and edit these documents may be difficult to justify, but contracting out for these services is more affordable.
When things are slow it is also tempting to lay people off. But when things get busy again it may not be as easy to replace them. Focusing operations personnel on updating procedures and training materials is a productive way to keep them busy and ensure future efficiency. A competent technical writer/editor contracted to work with your personnel will focus those efforts and ensure quality and consistency.
In the current conditions it may seem counter-intuitive to spend money on maintaining resources such as procedures, training materials and other documentation. But anyone who has managed through slow periods knows differently. Good managers make the tough decisions that pay off over the long term. Maintaining documentation is a perfect example of that.
Give me a call. I’m here to help.