OTS | The Risk-Free Training Solution for Plant Operators. Develop and maintain their required operational skills during initial and continuous plant operation
An OTS, or Operator Training Simulator, is a suitable platform on which to practise for control room operators because it provides a risk-free environment in which to perform unfamiliar process and control tasks. Any mistake, any error during a training session will be converted into a lesson learnt without any real-life consequences. It is key maintaining the practice of operating procedures as a regular activity for operators, and to providing refresher training at regular intervals, and for whenever a modification in the plant or in the control or safety system is implemented. Activities with the OTS should include operations such as start-up and shutdown ahead of time, and working through the response to infrequent abnormal situations, based on best practice procedures. Training on best practices allow operators to run through the routines on a regular basis, so it is advisable not to allow too much time to elapse between refresher training courses.
Unfortunately, most of the licensed OTS' are rarely used again after initial operators training. However, ongoing training programs can provide significant benefits. It is widely recognised that approximately 90% of plant incidents can be prevented. Moreover, the majority result from the actions or inactions of people. Modern process automation systems have allowed operators to assume responsibility for a larger scope than ever of a plant’s operation. However, as systems become broader in scope, they create the potential to for placing the operator in a weak position. This situation arises because as systems become more complex, they become more difficult to operate.
One solution is to add more automation, but this increases complexity. In addition, automation obstructs operators’ ability to maintain their expertise. The skills lost are precisely the ones most needed when automated systems cannot handle a problem and the operator must intervene. That is why it is important to use an OTS for training throughout the life of the producing plant, not just at the initial start-up phase. Its use will prevent the operators’ expertise becoming obsolete due to lack of proper maintenance (if the OTS does not include the modifications implemented in the process or in the control system after plant start-up, the operators will not recognise it as their own plant system and will refuse to get trained with it).