Distributed control systems play a crucial role in automating key processes in many essential industries, but they are also complex, so DCS training is vital. Whether you are stationed at the helm of a giant modern cruise or container ship, seated on the flight deck of a wide-bodied jet airliner or attempting to moderate the flow of electricity to the national grid, most essential operations are automated. Their automatic actions rely on the instructions supplied by sophisticated software and are converted into physical activities by a system of mechanical activators known as servos.

Nevertheless, the hands on those controls determine how a supertanker or nuclear power plant performs. Hence, their owner must be competent to make such critical decisions. Significantly, the failure of inexperienced personnel to handle such systems correctly was responsible for the nuclear accident in Ukraine. Similar mistakes in other sectors have led to hundreds of lives lost on land, in the air and at sea, and millions of dollars worth of damage to equipment and infrastructure.

That said, attempting to provide DCS training for new operators whose only experience of their new career may have been a YouTube video can be equally challenging and even dangerous. The manufacturers of distributed control systems provide reams of detailed instructions and illustrations in their user manuals, but would you trust a pilot who learned how to fly from a book? Of course not, and surely residents on South Africa’s west coast would not sleep well if they thought operators at the Koeberg nuclear plant had learned their jobs in a similar fashion.

Is There a Safer Way to Conduct DCS Training?

In 2022, 648 people died in mass shootings, and many authorities believe that video games can incite these acts of extreme violence. They also claim these simulations might explain the exceptional accuracy displayed by young people who have never previously handled a real firearm. While the terrible truth of these observations is of grave concern, they also confirm the power of gaming technology in developing other practical skills.

While trainees can gain all the theoretical knowledge they require in a classroom with the help of some conventional teaching aid, providing them with practical experience at the coal face poses several challenges. For example:

  • Progress is slow: Learning any new skill requires repetition, which is often impossible in a busy workplace, so it can take several sessions to cover a single essential task fully. Furthermore, some individuals take longer than others to perfect a new skill.
  • On-the-job training is risky: It is easy to become distracted while overseeing a novice perform some critical DCS training task. Unfortunately, even a momentary distraction could cause damage to costly equipment or even injuries to the personnel of a power station or an offshore oil rig
  • Opportunities to practice emergency measures are limited: Despite sophisticated automated systems, emergencies do sometimes arise, and experienced operators handle them while trainees are left to watch and hope to remember whatever they can of the remedial actions taken.
  • It can be costly: Time is money. Every hour spent by competent operators supervising trainees means they are less productive, adding indirectly to a plant’s operating costs. Also, the additional wear and tear on control systems in inexperienced hands can necessitate unscheduled maintenance and repair charges.

The Advantages of Simutators in DCS Training

Experience has shown that training simulators can overcome all these snags and optimise operator efficiency. For a modest investment, trainers can purchase or develop their own partial or full-scope simulation and gain the following benefits:

  • A significantly shorter learning curve: Gaming technology is immersive and compelling. Interacting with simulated control systems encourages repetition and a desire for continuous improvement. Learners are seldom distracted from the quest for perfection.
  • Safety is assured: Any mistakes made in a simulated work scenario provide instant audiovisual feedback while having no consequences in the real world. Instead, a trainee’s errors become a powerful learning experience.
  • Emergencies can be simulated as required: However serious the problem, trainees can try all available options to overcome them, repeating them until they become reflexive. They also provide an opportunity to test new ideas safely.
  • It’s cost-effective: A small investment frees trainers, speeds up learning, avoids costly damage, and cuts all training costs,

SimGenics is a leading developer of training simulators. We can help your organisation gain the valuable benefits of simulated DCS training. Why not contact us to learn more?

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