Frequently Asked Questions about Simulator Training
1. I know that astronauts, airline pilots, and nuclear power plant operators are
trained extensively through the use of simulators, but why do refinery, chemical
plant, petrochemical plant, and other process plant operators need them?
First, let's quickly look at the similarities:
High capital investment.
Hazardous operating conditions.
Complex and integrated process mechanics.
High variable operating costs.
Complex control and instrumentation.
Potential for injury, loss of life.
An operator in any kind of process plant cannot afford to make mistakes, as
mistakes are costly and potentially life threatening. Simulation training
provides operators with realistic dress-rehearsals for situations which require
an operator to respond instinctively with competence and confidence.
2. How can the Simulator Training products provided by Simulation Solutions benefit
Everybody recognizes that constant practice and preparation yields superior results
Simulation training is just that, a technology by which operators can practice and
prepare for a situation, including:
Normal plant operations
Start-up and Shut-down procedures
Emergency situations (equipment failures, process excursions, etc.
Changes in feedstocks, catalysts, etc.
Remember the old adage, "Practice makes perfect". It certainly applies to operator
3. How will our company benefit from Simulation Training?
Better trained operators mean better operations-- greater throughput, less
downtime, lower energy costs, less equipment damage and production loss, closer
environmental compliance and a safer operation. A simulator allows the supervisor
to train and evaluate an operator objectively, spending time to guarantee that
all critical aspects of operation and safety are clearly understood.
4. Don't Simulators cost a lot?
While it was once true that Simulators were economically attractive to only large
companies, this is no longer the case. By developing our Simulator to run on
ordinary PCs, Simulation Solutions has produced a cost-effective training tool
with "live" process graphics and control graphics which looks and acts like a
real process, yet is affordable for any process plant application. The real
question is, "Can my plan afford not to use a Simulator?"
5. How important are control systems in process simulation?
Very important. Without a sophisticated control system, a simulation loses its
significance to the operator. Simulation Solutions offers a comprehensive "generic"
control system as well as "DCS" specific simulations based on popular DCS systems
such as Honeywell, Bailey, Yokogowa, etc.
A good simulator helps operators become familiar with today's complex control systems
and therefore gain confidence in the ability to make setpoint changes, respond
to alarms, review controller tuning parameters, etc.
A simulator without these features is too simplified and can defeat the purpose
of this type of training.
6. What kind of situations can be created with a simulator?
Almost any situation can be recreated by the simulator. The "starting point" for
a training session can range from “cold start” to “design”, or any point in between.
Through the use of the training features, process upsets, equipment malfunctions
and failures, instrumentation problems, can be quickly activated, either immediately,
after a pre-set delay, or by way of previously created "training exercises".
Specific examples of problems and upsets include pump failures, valve failures,
variable feed conditions, heat exchanger fouling, catalyst deactivation, power
failure, transmitter errors, etc.
7. What is the difference between "generic" and "custom" simulations and how do
I know which to use?
Generic simulation programs are processes common to most plants and are beneficial
for most applications. While equipment sizes, feedstocks and operating parameters
vary, these processes still require the same basic knowledge and operating
Generic simulation programs have been proven invaluable in helping both new and
experienced operators to gain a deeper understanding of a process, and perhaps
for the first time understand "why", not just "what" and "when", when making a
process change or responding to a process upset.
Custom programs are usually reserved for new process start-up and non-standard
operations involving atypical process equipment, control schemes, operating
conditions, etc. Significant “up front” investments of time and money are
required to develop a custom program. Substantial on-going investments of time
and money are also required to guarantee that the Custom programs are maintained
and modified to stay current with changes in the real plant, and therefor live
up to operator expectations that they "look", "feel" and "operate" just like the
8. How can universities, technical colleges, and "trade schools" benefit from
operator training simulators?
For universities, operator training simulators can be used in Unit Operations Labs
and can provide realistic “hands-on” experience for Engineers in operating DCS
control systems and running various plant units. Complex units such as large
Compressors, and Fired Heaters not commonly found in Unit Ops Labs can now be
included as part of the Engineering curriculum.
For technical colleges and "trade schools", their students can gain substantial
knowledge and understanding of how to operate process plants and DCS stations.
Graduates from these schools are often recruited directly by local industry for
full time employment immediately following the completing of their degrees.
9. What kind of training programs are available from Simulation Solutions?
Pump and Valve
Fixed Bed Exothermic Reactor
Fundamentals of Instrumentation
Atmospheric Crude Unit
Vacuum Crude Unit
Amine Gas Treating
10. What kinds of process plants have used simulators to train their operators?
Batch Chemical plants
On-shore and Off-shore Gas Plants
Continuous Operation Chemical Plants