How many companies institute a formal training procedure — not only when controls systems are changed, but for smaller changes as well? Have reduced budgets cut too much into training?
Emerson’s Gordon Lawther, a modernization consultant, was in Austin and I caught up with him right after reading this post. I asked him for his experiences with process manufacturers, specifically in the case of a control system modernization project.
He said operator training is one of the top concerns in any modernization project. The operators have long experiences with the existing equipment and need time to feel comfortable operating the plant with the new process automation system.
In a phased system modernization, Gordon counsels that it is common to replace operator consoles first. The old and new can be placed side-by-side for a transition period long enough for the operators to gain confidence with the new operator workstations. If control room space is not sufficient for a side-to-side arrangement, the older consoles should be relocated to another area, but kept on-line during this transition period.
This is a low risk approach and the short period of parallel operation is a key element for a smooth transition. The new operator screens can be designed to take advantage of the new technologies and not be clones of the original. Gordon also sees an iterative approach taken with the new screens to incorporate feedback during this transition period.
A rip and replace project on the other hand, will benefit from an operator training system like DeltaV OTS where the operators can start the training period well before the installation and commissioning phase of the modernization project.
Gordon says operators are quick learners and it never takes long for them to realize the benefits from newer technology since they offer easier access to the information needed to run the plant effectively.
If you’ve got some thoughts on this subject of training, visit the Is training sufficient forum thread, and let ’em rip!