Power Plant Simulation Training and Its Benefits

One of the major problems facing the power generation industry today is that, increasingly, it is under constant pressure to become more productive. However, at the same time, it is having to depend on employees who do not have a lot of experience. Even when subject to such pressures, it is not practically viable and could even be dangerous to undertake on-the-job training of inexperienced plant operatives. There is, however, an alternative. Computerised power plant simulation training offers the industry a solution that is practical, safe, and highly effective.

Because of the potential safety risks, in-house training of this type will commonly be confined to a mix of “chalk and talk” followed by watching an expert perform the practical tasks until the trainees appear sufficiently confident to take the reins under supervision. Although these have been accepted teaching practices for centuries, it is now widely accepted that, for predominately practical tasks, a hands-on, trial-and-error approach tends to be far more effective. A course of power plant simulation training offers the perfect means to provide all of the necessary hands-on experience while eliminating any risk that a mistake on the part of a trainee could result in serious consequences.

One of the main strengths of this type of instruction is the speed with which trainees can become proficient. Consequently, simulated instruction can be an ideal option when creating new vacancies or compensating for the impact of workforce turnover and natural attrition. Likewise, when introducing new equipment or commissioning a new plant, the time needed for operators to gain valuable hands-on experience can be minimised when employing an effective power plant simulation training programme. 

Even in the best-run generating plants, emergencies can occasionally arise. When they do, trained personnel with the necessary expertise to deal safely and effectively with any given malfunction are vital.  Even though it may be possible, it is unnecessarily disruptive to deliberately create a problem purely for a training exercise. It may also not be the best policy to rely solely on following some documented procedure when the time comes to handle a genuine plant malfunction. To gain live experience of handling abnormal plant conditions, there is no safer or more effective option than a course of power plant simulation training. So, what are the available options?

Simulators have long been used in applications ranging from life-threatening surgical procedures to flying a wide-bodied jet aircraft and it is not hard to see why they have become invaluable to both surgeons and pilots alike. Given the consequences of failure in these examples, it is essential to generate a simulated audio-visual environment that duplicates the live experience in every last detail.

For power plant simulation training, however, it is also possible to obtain good results by providing trainees with a more generic environment. By developing a standardised off-the-shelf type of product, this allows a service provider to offer its clients a more affordable option. While the appearance and position of a particular control or display panel may not correspond exactly to those at an employee’s plant, this will not detract from the fact that the sequence of operations when performing any given live task will be identical.

Just as greater realism can enhance the enjoyment of computer games, when power plant simulation training is designed to generate a scenario that is identical to the live working environment, it can be even more effective. When a client believes that such realism is necessary, the developers will carry out a detailed survey of the client’s plant and use the collected data to create a computerised visual display that is identical in every last detail to the client’s setup.

With more than 75 full-scope and partial-scope simulators to our credit, plus all of the related training documentation, SimGenics, LLC has established itself as a leader in the critically important field of power plant simulation training. Serving coal-, oil-, gas-fired, and nuclear plants, we pride ourselves on delivering simulator systems that are not only more comprehensive than those of competing companies but doing so in less time and at a significantly lower cost.

At a time when power generation technology is evolving rapidly and pressure is on existing infrastructure to embrace greener options, the need for skilled operators is growing. Not surprisingly, power plant simulation training will remain crucial to the industry’s success.

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