Transform the Learning Experience with a Power Plant Simulator

At a time when the nation’s citizens and businesses are suffering the fallout from brownouts and level 4 load shedding, there has never been a more urgent need to upgrade South Africa’s electricity-generating capacity. However, it will take more than billions of Rands from overseas investors and loans to renovate existing plants and build the badly-needed additional infrastructure. It requires knowledge and skill to operate a power station. Conventional teaching methods are slow. By contrast, investing in a power plant simulator could allow learners to achieve a level of competence in hours that would typically require days of traditional instruction.   

The number of experienced operators in this field has been declining steadily for several years. While some have merely reached retirement age, others have chosen to peddle their skills in one of the more lucrative overseas markets. The high attrition rate has increased pressure on recruiters and trainers to find and prepare a new generation of operatives. In addition, advanced new control systems and emerging technologies tend to leave even experienced staff needing further training. Fortunately, a power plant simulator can handle training for both old hands and newbies with equal efficiency. 

A returning former industry employee can be back up to speed after just a session or two of this immersive learning experience. Also, those with a background in coal-fired power generation will find that a simulated learning programme offers the best way to assist them with the switch to cleaner natural gas-fired technology. Training is most effective when it combines audible instruction with the visual and tactile experiences of the live workplace. While on-the-job practice is often impractical, a power plant simulator can duplicate the working environment and the combined experiences to provide a more effective and safer way to conduct essential practical training. 

Modern simulation technology derives many of its more compelling features from the world of computer gaming and talented programmers skilled in creating virtual worlds. As such, they are less reliant on costly hardware than the systems long used by airlines to train their pilots. Instead, innovative software creates a virtual workplace and provides a lifelike user interface for those trainers and trainees who have access to a power plant simulator.

The depth of detail and scope that a purchaser can expect from these products is merely a matter of choice. If required, it is possible to create a lifelike simulation that will duplicate every aspect of a client’s working environment down to the smallest detail. One can limit the scope of the training function to providing practice for just one or two routine procedures such as startups and shutdowns. On the other hand, a full-scope programme can include every process required to operate a plant, including emergency procedures.

When creating a fully-detailed power plant simulator, the process begins with a 3D scan of the client’s workplace and may cover the entire plant or focus only on those areas relevant to the training required. Once the basic model is complete, the programme routines and animations that provide the interactive experience can be added. Instructions, questionnaires and progress reporting serve to extend the capabilities of this powerful training technology. 

Though desirable, such in-depth detail is not essential. Furthermore, more details will require more programming time and will add to the cost. A range of generic power plant simulators is available for those in a hurry to train much-needed new operators or for those who are constrained by limited budgets. Rather than photorealistic images, users can expect views created from standard 3D objects included in the programming software, which may only approximate their workplace environments. Also, their content is generally restricted to one or two specified processes and may be based on a named brand of plant equipment. Nevertheless, generic products are effective, and trainers can be sure of a teaching tool guaranteed to provide an enhanced learning experience. 

The greatest strength of any power plant simulator is that learners are free to repeat any action until they have mastered it. Emergencies are rare but require prompt action when they do occur. It’s neither easy nor wise to recreate emergencies in the workplace for training purposes. A simulated situation allows learners to make mistakes without real-world consequences and learn from them.

SimGenics are established leaders in simulated learning technology. Chat to them about a power plant simulator and how it could transform your current operator training and save you time and money. 

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