Power Plant Safety Protocols and the Important Role of Simulator Training

 power plant safety

Power stations hold many potential dangers, requiring workers to adhere to strict safety protocols. Simulator training is known to improve power plant safety. Today, much of the country is plagued by load shedding due to the failure of the national service provider to invest sufficiently in its ailing infrastructure. While these planned power-outs are disruptive for businesses and citizens alike, the underlying causes have also increased the danger to those responsible for operating plants.

South Africa’s electricity supply is still derived mainly from the combustion of fossil fuels, predominately coal. This choice contributes to global warming and poses severe and frequently fatal hazards to those attempting to keep the nation’s lights on and businesses operational. For example, coal dust can ignite or even explode spontaneously unless suitable precautions are taken, and the threat of electrocution is everpresent. 

Intensive power plant training is undoubtedly the most effective defence against such dangers, but providing on-the-job practical instruction safely for inexperienced operators can be a challenging proposition. Mistakes happen, and the consequences can be far-reaching in a power station, threatening workers, costly equipment and electricity production. By contrast, simulator training avoids all such risks and enhances power plant safety.

What Are Training Simulators, and How Can They Improve Power Plant Safety?

Most people will be aware that airlines employ sophisticated simulations as part of a commercial pilot’s training. Some may even have tried to test their skills with Microsoft’s version for PC users. While the former option recreates a flight deck in every last detail, including its movement in response to action via a physical control panel, such sophistication is unnecessary in most other training scenarios. Instead, like Microsoft Flight Simulator, applications such as those used in power stations also leverage gaming technology, a strategy that works exceptionally well.

One can purchase products that can replicate one or more plant activities using generic controls. More realistic programs for basic procedures like startup and shutdown are often available for specific installations from the appropriate manufacturer. At SimGenics, we offer our clients several choices, including various generic partial-scope programs, photorealistic full-scope simulations based on 3D scans of the live workplace, and the option to purchase software for our clients to develop their own simulated training scenarios in-house.

Whatever the choice, the benefits are manifold and include the following:

  • Improved Power Plant Safety and Peace of Mind

Simulations are especially beneficial when training operators to perform tasks that could put them and others at risk if executed incorrectly. For example, conventional and nuclear plants depend heavily on efficient cooling systems requiring close attention. Any error might lead to a sudden increase in temperature or loss of coolant and could spell disaster. When training on a simulator, mistakes carry no risks. Instead, they become a powerful learning tool providing learners with visual feedback without the risk of real-world consequences. Learners are free to repeat any exercise until they have perfected it.

  • A More Cost-effective Option

Conventional on-the-job training ties up experienced operators who could be more productively employed. Furthermore, it’s time-consuming. Each trainee must receive individual instruction and practice, making it a more demanding option for large groups. By contrast, simulations are software programs and can be networked, allowing multiple users to study simultaneously and independently whilst overseen remotely by their instructor  

Also, allowing inexperienced operators to handle costly equipment risks undue wear and tear, potentially resulting in failures and the added expense of repairs or replacements. Virtual training scenarios can significantly reduce the cost of power plant training.

  • A Shortened Learning Curve and Better Retention

One of the greatest strengths of computer gaming is that it is compelling. Training simulators employ the same immersive technology that can attract and retain a learner’s attention far more effectively than most human trainers. Whether battling invading aliens from a distant galaxy or practising how to adjust power output during peak periods, these simulated scenarios are equally captivating.

  • Safer Handling of Emergencies

It is impractical and potentially dangerous to invoke emergencies for training purposes, and when they occur unintentionally, there is seldom time to utilise them as a training exercise. Furthermore, the presence of unskilled staff could obstruct proceedings. Virtual scenarios enable learners to practise repeatedly, free of risk.

SimGenics and Power Plant Safety

As acknowledged leaders in developing training simulators, we offer turnkey solutions for the power industry and others. Contact us to learn more about our world-class products and how they can make your operator training safer and more effective.

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