The Critical Role of a Power Plant Simulator for Training Purposes on a Conventional Plant  

Power plant simulator

Surprisingly, accidents are far more frequent in thermal power stations than in nuclear plants. Fortunately, power plant simulators can help change this. In practice, all forms of power generation involve risks; only with thorough training and practical experience can one hope to keep these to a minimum. However, while trainees can adequately master the theoretical aspects of power generation in the classroom, the only sure way to gain the necessary practical skills is at the coalface.

On-the-job training is widely practised and can be highly effective in occupations such as retail, vehicle maintenance and any job where the physical risks are minimal. By contrast, control room operators in a coal- or gas-fired generating station are surrounded by potential hazards, and it is crucial that they learn how to manage them efficiently. However, practical training on the job is frequently slow as it must not interfere with the plant’s routine operations. To master a task, one must repeat it until it becomes second nature, especially when dealing with an emergency. A power plant simulator offers trainers the means to conduct practical training in a safe environment without disrupting the plant’s routine activities or putting personnel and equipment at risk.

Practice (With a Power Plant Simulator) Makes Perfect

To be successful, trainers require more than a sound knowledge of their subject. The ability to capture and hold the attention of a trainee distinguishes the excellent teacher from the merely functional one. If you are an avid fan of Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty, you can confirm the almost addictive power of these simulated adventures to keep the player engaged. Online games provide an immersive audiovisual experience that, though artificial, is highly compelling. The effect of applying this powerful gaming technology in a training situation is identical.

If during a game, you should succumb to enemy fire, the scenario will reset, and you are free to try again. If, while adjusting the steam pressure in a boiler, overpressure should result in an explosion, the consequences could be disastrous. However, when conducting your training on a power plant simulator, the outcome of your mistakes will be displayed on a screen but will have no effect in the real world; you can just reset the scene and try again. In practice, mistakes can be a powerful learning tool. When the results of their mistakes are only simulated, learners have a unique opportunity to repeat any task as often as necessary until they have perfected it. In addition to being safer than conventional practical training methods, simulations offer several other benefits. Let’s examine these in more detail.

  • Less Disruption: Trained personnel are free to proceed with their day-to-day tasks without constant interruptions to allow trainees to practice in the live environment. When using a power plant simulator, practical training can be conducted anywhere a personal computer with the appropriate software is available.
  • Train Multiple Learners Simultaneously: Personal attention is essential in any training situation, but it can be difficult to provide when dealing with large groups. However, dealing with each learner on an individual basis is time-consuming, and it will take correspondingly longer to complete their instruction. Alternatively, when employing a simulation, the software can be deployed via a network, providing the means for several learners to study simultaneously while allowing the trainer to monitor their performance individually.
  • Simplifies Continuous Assessment: A trainer may be able to add features to monitor a trainee’s progress, depending on the software package used. These might include a set of multiple-choice questions attached to the end of a lesson or an application to track the time taken to complete a specified task. A trainer can then access each learner’s results to gauge their performance. The software may also be designed to process this data to compile a written report for printing, thus reducing the time trainers must generally spend on administrative tasks.
  • More Cost-Effective: Simulated training is scaleable, quick to roll out, and can be conducted anywhere at any time. It requires only readily available and inexpensive equipment, making it a far more cost-effective option than the conventional on-the-job approach.

Finding a World-Class Power Plant Simulator

SimGenics offers turn-key delivery of full-scope simulations for gas-, coal-fired and nuclear power plant training or the option to purchase software to create specific simulations in-house. Click here to learn more about us and our vision and mission.

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