Building Competency through Operator Training Systems

Automation technologies can help in making plants more efficient, but only if the operations and maintenance personnel understand how to make effective use of these technologies. For control systems, Operator Training simulators (OTS) are one way to develop knowledge of the process and the system and provide exposure to abnormal situations.

Emerson’s Ronnie Bains, the European OTS & Dynamic Simulation Consultant, shared a story with me applying operating training systems at Rompetrol in the largest refinery in Romania. The refinery, located on the Black Sea, receives crude oil via oil tankers and via its pipeline network. The transportation costs associated with these imports meant that the refinery needed to operate as efficiently as possible throughout its supply chain.

Rompetrol sought to improve the operating knowledge and experience of their operations and maintenance personnel. They sought an OTS to simulate abnormal situations, to improve recognition and response, startup and shutdown conditions, and basic knowledge of how the process operates including its ranges of operation. Testing with associated grading of personnel, helped demonstrate improved competency.

Ronnie and the Emerson project team employed a standardized implementation approach—Standard Entities for the Engineering of Dynamic Simulators (SEEDS). The SEEDS solution consists of a library of native DeltaV simulation objects, which enable the development of a medium fidelity dynamic simulation.

Fidelity is a common term used in simulation to describe the rigor/complexity of process models. The medium fidelity model uses a mass and heat balance of the process within the model. The model will run automatically and will respond to operator and system actions as per the actual process behavior. The model includes process dead time, accumulation, integration functionality and is based upon first principles.

The DeltaV OTS included this process specific simulation for the Mild Hydrocracker Unit, a copy of the refinery’s actual DeltaV configuration and DeltaV Simulate software. The training solution included initial conditions, a series of timed action scenarios that simulate normal and abnormal conditions in the process, equipment and system simulated malfunctions and field operator devices.

This was the first DeltaV OTS developed for Rompetrol and the refinery staff acknowledged its success. It highlights the improvements, which a DeltaV SEEDS OTS can provide to process manufacturers.


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