Reasons Why Training Simulators are Ideal for Power Plants
There is nothing new about the concept of a training simulators or a simulated learning environment. In practice, trainers have been employing various means to recreate conditions that closely resemble those of a live situation for many centuries. For example, those gallant armoured knights of medieval fame used to practice their jousting skills on a rotating dummy that could deliver an uncomfortable blow and dismount an unwary rider. More recently, the airline industry and the military have been leveraging the power of more sophisticated training simulators to prepare their pilots. One can also find similar applications for medical students and nurses, learner drivers, crane operators, the mining industry and commercial farmers. It is, therefore, not too surprising that the energy industry has also chosen to embrace this technology. However, this is not simply a case of pursuing a popular trend. This form of learning offers several valuable benefits for the nation’s generating companies. These can be summarised as follows.
The Benefits of Power Plant Training Simulators
Increased Safety: Accidents are commonplace in most industries, and, unfortunately, power plants tend to experience more than most. However, the use of training simulatorshas consistently proved the most effective means to instil safety awareness and promote safer working habits, significantly reducing the incidence of accidents and subsequent fatalities. Realistic simulated scenarios allow trainees to witness the consequences of an error with no risk to themselves, their colleagues or the plant, creating a deep and long-lasting visual impression.
Improved Productivity: Simulation-based learning offers trainees an opportunity seldom, if ever, available to them when undergoing conventional instruction. Not only do their mistakes lack real-world consequences when using training simulators, but they also have the freedom to repeat the correct action over and over again until it becomes a conditioned reflex. The net result is that the trainees tend to complete their day-to-day tasks quicker than when trained conventionally, thus contributing to increased plant efficiency and significantly improved productivity.
Reduces Equipment and Maintenance Costs: The wear and tear on expensive plant equipment can be substantially increased when handled by an inexperienced operator. Even using it for training can heighten the need for routine maintenance and possible downtime. By taking trainee instruction offline and conducting it with computer-based training simulators, a plant can significantly reduce the incidence of damage to equipment and the need for costly repairs. In addition, the heightened skills of the trainees serve as insurance against sloppy operating practices that could prove equally damaging and costly.
Trainees Learn Faster than with Conventional Methods: Reduced learning time is another benefit that can be directly attributed to the freedom to learn from one’s mistakes that is unique to the simulated workplace. In the real world, such options are impractical. Consequently, training simulators will never fail to develop operator skills faster than conventional instruction. Furthermore, a simulated working environment is not only a powerful tool with which to teach new employees. This computer-based instruction is equally suitable for cross-training experienced personnel on new and unfamiliar plant equipment.
Round-the-Clock Availability: Unlike a flesh-and-blood trainer, these life-like computerised learning systems are always available. They often include a virtual instructor module that allows learners to follow on-screen and audible instructions, thus eliminating the need for a human supervisor. In practice, the decision to install training simulators could vastly expand the productivity of a power plant’s training department while also minimising the number of experienced personnel required to operate it.
A More Compelling Learning Experience: When one provides students with a text to read or seats them in a lecture hall, it will not be too long before many become distracted and allow their attention to wander. Keep it up long enough, and most of them will eventually lose interest. On the other hand, seat the same learners at a games console, and it will probably take a fire alarm or a physical assault to divert their attention. In practice, training simulators create that same fully-immersive experience that holds a learner’s attention to an extent most trained and experienced teachers spend a lifetime attempting to achieve.
So, what options are open to a power plant wishing to transform its operator instruction programme? In practice, you may either purchase generic or bespoke partial or full-scope simulations or invest in specialised software to develop these yourself. SimGenics offers both options. We invite you to learn more about our world-class training simulators for fossil gas-, coal-fired and nuclear power plants.