Monday, May 06, 2013

Simulators Essential to Power Plant Operator Training

When it comes to deciding if a training simulator will deliver a return on investment for any industry, you have to look at the cost benefit analysis to determine if the benefits of a project will outweigh the costs. When conducting this valuation, you need to assess the costs of potential accidents that will hopefully be mitigated through the training provided by your investment in the simulator project. Typically, a simulator project will have a greater rate of return on investment when the equipment cost, potential damage that can be done with the equipment, and the threat to human safety, are at higher rates than average. When combined, the need for a comprehensive training simulator is obvious to achieve a high rate of success.

Perhaps nowhere in the industrial world is this more evident then when it come to power generating stations. Most power plants burn either coal, oil, or natural gas. A smaller percentage use nuclear fission to generate heat, while an even smaller percentage use renewable sources like solar, wind, and water. With the cost to develop, run, and maintain the plants coupled with the potential hazards and risks posed to the public by errant operation all at high levels - the requirement for power plant training simulators is an obvious need.

The Yokogawa Electric Corporation, a large Japanese electrical engineering and software company, best known for their production of control systems, recently announced that their subsidiary Yokogawa Middle East B.S.C. received an order to provide systems and operator training simulators for combined cycle power plants. In a typical combined cycle power plant, a gas or oil turbine generates electricity, while waste heat is used to make steam which generates additional electricity. The training simulators that Yokogawa will develop will be used to train operators at the Saudi Arabian Shoaiba II oil burning combined cycle power and desalination plant on the coast of the Red Sea. The virtual simulator will be used to train operators on every thing from basic plant control function testing to complex simulated plant operating emergencies. When your country, or kingdom, holds one of the world's largest oil reserves you need to make sure that your plant operators receive the highest level of training, and virtual training simulators have been proven to provide just that.

Power Plant Training Simulator
Nuclear Power Plant Training Simulator
In China, at Sanmen and Haiyang Nuclear Power Plants, Westinghouse Electric Company recently announced they had successfully installed AP1000 two-loop pressurized water nuclear reactor plant simulators. These training simulators are considered to be the most modern nuclear plant simulators in the world today. When discussing the project, William Poirier, Vice President, Westinghouse China AP1000 Projects said:
"We achieved these key delivery and training milestones with the help of our China partners and customers. Together, we are proud to have demonstrated this next step in delivering our world-class technology with AP1000 pressurised water reactors."
In Argentina, at the Embalse nuclear power station, L-3 MAPPS recently announced they had installed a training simulator for operators of the pressurized heavy water reactor. All of the plant’s operational systems are simulated, validated and maintained within the virtual environment. Systems include the reactor, steam supply systems, balance of plant systems, electrical systems and computer systems.

Power plant training simulators allow operators to improve their performance by providing clear virtual versions of the process and the technology. Operators become comfortable and confident experts at the controls of a complex power plant, a system that requires this level of operator training and expertise.


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