How a Power Station Simulator could Assist Training Programmes
It is all too evident that the consumer’s appetite for electricity is growing faster than most suppliers can produce it. However, the pressure is also mounting on service providers to generate it in a more eco-friendly manner. The result is an industry torn between supporting the pledges made by the world leaders at COP26 and attempting to keep the lights on in homes and businesses. Even before this latest initiative, maintaining the supply has been a challenge in South Africa. Now funding for updating and expanding generating infrastructure is becoming available, and power station simulators offer the most effective option for training the additional personnel necessary to operate it.
Even before implementing these expansion plans, staffing is already an industry-wide issue. Like some of the nation’s generating plants, many of the most experienced operators have been retired or soon will be, creating a void that will be difficult to fill. Turning this situation around will require more than an intensive recruiting campaign. All suitable new candidates will have to complete an extensive training programme before they can manage a plant’s control systems safely. Fortunately, a power station simulator can significantly reduce the time required to complete that training.
Audiovisual teaching aids such as video projectors and animated models have been used for decades and have proved their value in the classroom and the boardroom. However, it has long been known that sound and pictures are even more effective when combined with the sensation of touch. Tactile sensations have been proven to create powerful memories by creating a more immersive experience. Pushing a button beats looking at an image of one but could have unwanted consequences. By contrast, a power station simulator offers trainees an opportunity to push buttons or adjust dials and observe the results while being assured that it will pose no real-world dangers if they should make a mistake.
Furthermore, to be effective, it is best to perform practical training on a one-on-one basis. However, if you have a dozen recruits to train, the exercise will take twelve times as long. In practice, there is a way to instruct many learners simultaneously while assuring that each will have a personalised learning experience. A power station simulator can achieve this through a network of monitors with access to its programmes. A single trainer can select the desired task, oversee the operation and interface with individual trainees as necessary.
This technology is exceptionally versatile and can be applied to develop a simulation of any industrial process. Much of the focus of developers remain on training programmes for the various forms of power generation. However, the emerging demands for products in other fields such as desalination, mining and the petrochemical industry are proof of the growing appeal of immersive training products similar to the power station simulator.
In addition to combining audible, visual and tactile elements, training simulations offer another benefit that is rarely possible with conventional teaching methods. A simulated task can be repeated as many times as necessary for the learner to perfect it. This degree of freedom can be a significant advantage to a trainee when learning to perform mission-critical tasks that could have far-reaching consequences in a real-world situation. We can learn a lot from our mistakes. Knowing the outcomes are only simulated can be a great confidence booster and another valid reason to consider purchasing a power station simulator.
For further proof of the teaching power of computer simulations, one need only look at the faith airlines and, by extension, their passengers, place in the sophisticated flight simulators used to train pilots. Many of those responsible for piloting giant cruise liners and supertankers also now perfect their skills in this manner. Perhaps less well-known is the growing extent to which surgeons, nurses, midwives and other healthcare professionals now depend on this powerful form of training to hone their skills without putting their patients at risk. As with each of these applications, a power station simulator will eliminate any dangers that might arise when employing conventional training techniques.
South Africa has long needed an upgrade to its power generation and reticulation systems. At last, recent developments make it seem likely that we are close to seeing the dream become a reality. When things finally start moving, SimGenics will be ready to provide the industry’s trainers with the many benefits of an advanced power station simulator.