Rick Bloemhard, Operations Group Leader
As the Operations Group Leader at the ALS, I supervise the Control Room Accelerator Operators, the Experiment Floor Operators, and the ALS Procedures Center. My deputies are Warren Byrne in the control room and John Pruyn for the Floor Operations Section. I consider myself very fortunate to have a highly diverse, talented, and dedicated team of people to carry out the important tasks associated with daily operation of the light source. There is a palpable sense of professional pride to provide the best machine reliability to users.
The control room is staffed 24 hours per day with one or two operators. Control Room Operators are the first contact point for ALS staff and users when any type of emergency occurs. They are trained in industrial First Aid and each of them is also a member of the ALS Building Emergency Team.
The Control Room Operators are faced with thousands of parts, many control systems, and control programs that they must understand and manipulate to produce the intense and steady beams of light at the ALS. It can take up to one year for new operators to qualify for a solo shift. One of the trickier aspects of an operator’s job is the art of troubleshooting the machine when things go awry. They must often balance a desire to fully understand problems (to prevent re-occurrences) against the users' need for a quick return of light. The Electronic Maintenance staff, whose shop is also manned 24 hours per day, often work with operators in these cases.
To help foster good communications between the beamline scientists and users on the experiment floor and the operators in the control room, the Operations Group has been experimenting with cross-training some people to serve as both Floor and Control Room Operators. This has been going well and we are achieving the intended results.
Floor Operators maintain control of the beamline radiation-shielding configuration. Because the ALS relies on administrative control of these very important personnel safety items, the Floor Operators must be intimately familiar with each beamline and its peculiarities. Floor Operators must stay attuned to all of the work occurring on each beamline, and make sure all shielding work is performed correctly and kept under control. If a beamline has been taken offline, Floor Operators will not re-enable its shutters unless all required steps have taken place and been documented. While the process may seem restrictive, its thoroughness helps maintain compliance with ALS and DOE procedural guidelines.
The Procedures Center is managed by Karen Nunez (who is backed by Tennessee Gock). She maintains more than 360 operational and maintenance procedures for ALS groups. These procedures are reviewed and updated as changes necessitate, and per scheduled periodic review. We are fortunate to have a detail-oriented staff who are committed to the Procedure Center's success.
The ALS operators are a knowledgeable and friendly group. If you would like to learn more about what we do, please feel free to stop by and chat with us in the control room.
Operations Group staff:
Operations Group staff not pictured: Haris Mahic, Karen Nunez, David Richardson, Davy Xu