The short answer to this question is safely, thoroughly and as quickly as possible. However, it can also help to ensure the process is not too labour-intensive. Safety in the generating industry is a historic and ongoing concern. A leading survey company estimates that fatalities in coal-fired plants amount to around 100 000 per thousand terawatt hours. At 36 000 and 4 000 respectively, the corresponding figures for oil- and gas-fired facilities may be lower but not less worrisome. Despite power plant control room operator training, the high incidence of deaths and debilitating accidents remain a cause for concern. Evidence suggests that the traditional approach to practical instruction might not be as effective as it should be.

Simulations as Effective Training Solutions

Firstly, it is neither feasible nor advisable to attempt to create emergencies to allow trainees to practice handling them. Nevertheless, emergencies do occur from time to time. When they do, it might be best not to rely on someone with no hands-on experience who learned how to deal with them in a classroom. So, how can one ensure that power plant control room operator training includes practical experience in dealing with the unexpected? The solution is to employ a simulated learning environment.

Think of this as similar to a shoot ‘em up video game. You can pump thousands of rounds into terrorist insurgents, drive them out and protect your platoon. However, if you should catch a stray bullet, you can opt for a health boost or restart the game. The inevitable outcome is that you will become an excellent shot and avoid injuries by not repeating your mistakes. So, let’s apply the same principle to power plant control room operator training. How will inexperienced recruits respond to a potentially dangerous pressure increase in a boiler? If they have played this scenario multiple times in a simulated workplace, their trainer can be assured they will act promptly and correctly to eliminate any impending danger.

Benefits of Simulated Training

What applies when learning to deal with emergencies is equally relevant when practising routine tasks, like start-ups and shut-downs. The greatest strength of simulated exercises is that learners are free to make mistakes. While they can see the results of those errors, they have the reassurance of knowing no real damage occurred as a result. Conducting power plant control room operator training using simulated workplace scenarios can offer trainers several other worthwhile benefits.

For example, creating simulations is a quick and straightforward process that, with the right software, will not even require any coding skills. Much like those DIY website building sites, they allow the users to drag and drop the required objects and functions from built-in libraries to create the visuals and bring them to life. Trainers are free to introduce additional learning aids. For example, they can add screen prompts to help those who appear hesitant when deciding on their next step.

A power plant control room operator training simulation can also include timed tasks and a scoring system to help trainees strive to improve their performance and trainers monitor progress. Furthermore, a networked system allows multiple learners to practice simultaneously while feeling they are receiving individual attention. Trainers can observe each learner’s actions remotely and are free to intervene whenever it appears necessary.

SimGenics Offers Full-scope Simulation Solutions

There is no one-size fits all training solution for the electricity-generating industry. The operations involved in operating coal-, oil- and gas-fired systems and nuclear plants differ considerably. Often the plant manufacturer can supply simulations to help with various key tasks, while one can also purchase generic products for many purposes. However, one should not underestimate the value of a full-scope simulation covering every aspect of a plant’s operation. While it may cost more, it’s a complete solution for anyone providing or receiving power plant control room operator training.

However, the gold standard in this field is a simulation reproducing every significant element of the trainer’s working environment in photorealistic detail. Using laser scans of the premises and suitable software, SimGenics can create a unique programme for you. If you wish to learn more about our services, including simulations for power plant control room operator training, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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