High definition simulators impact operational excellence

Paul Boughton
It is a fact that more conventional fuelled power plants are installing simulators to help meet their operational excellence targets. The benefit to retention rate when ‘learning by doing’ is well documented as a superior way to learn. Using an operator training simulator to improve knowledge and further develop skills is truly ‘practicing for perfection’. 

However, the use of dynamic, high fidelity simulation prior to actual plant commissioning is often paying for the simulator investment before training has even begun.  Can implementation of major changes to an existing plant or a new unit’s commissioning process be smoother and even shortened with the use of a simulator? 

Many plant teams say ‘Yes’.  They consistently identify four areas of impact:

*Verification of major changes or new plant designs … is more definitive and made with greater confidence when using dynamic simulation, as opposed to just steady state evaluations

* Testing of today’s complex control strategies and extensive amounts of automation logic far exceeds the capacity of typical DCS vendor Factory Acceptance Tests … using a real-time, dynamic simulator forces tighter pre-tuning of loops and a more fully tested control system running in automatic … the result is a superior commissioning process during unit start-ups, shut downs, and transients

* Eventually the realisation hits that someone must develop and validate procedures for safe, effective operation … what better way to integrate individual procedures from various equipment vendors into a cohesive document for operational consistency?

* Actual training of plant operators on the simulator before plant start-up, sometimes three to six months in advance, reinforces classroom “knowledge” based training and sharpens skills … thus competency and confidence operational excellence goals are met. 

Trends in clean coal, gasification, carbon sequestration, combined cycle, and desalination facilities point to a increased use of high definition (HD) simulations such as that derived from GSE Systems’ JADE software.   Growth in the use of real-time, dynamic simulators for renewable energy projects including solar, hydro, and wind power technologies is also anticipated.

Enter √ at www.engineerlive.com/ipe

GSE SystemsInc is based in Sykesville, MD, USA www.gses.com

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