Operator Training Simulator (OTS)
Mipac was engaged to design, engineer and deploy a world class plant wide control system for the Cobre Panama mega project. Upskilling the local workforce to be able to effectively operate and maintain this control infrastructure was viewed as critical to both the operations success as well as meeting the key requirement of a rapid ramp up to name plate capacity.
To ensure the operational readiness of the control room operators, an operator training simulator (OTS) was developed. The OTS was used to fully prepare operators prior to startup. It is also used in an ongoing capacity to train new operators as they move into the operation as well as providing refreshers for existing operators. This maintains a consistent training message and removes the requirement for ongoing external
The OTS was recreated as a virtual representation of how the real control system would interact with the plant. This meant that any fault or reaction in the simulated process had an accurate cascading effect upstream and downstream to make operators aware of all consequences of their actions.
The OTS used the actual control system HMI faceplates and graphical screens thereby familiarising operators with plant specific HMI tools, diagnostics and processes prior to them operating a running plant.
To ensure maximum flexibility, the system was virtualised so it could be accessed from anywhere in the world without the need for special hardware.
The result was a seamless transition from virtual system to live plant for the operators.
Process models were built into the OTS using Siemen’s SIMIT package. These models closely mimic how the system would react in the running plant and hence provide a hands on accurate real life experience for the operators.
The models parallel the interconnection of real time processes to ensure changes in the system have a realistic cascading effect throughout the process streams.
To ensure the operators developed logical fault-finding processes, the OTS has built-in scenarios where virtual faults are triggered. When a fault does trigger, the trainee operators are required to diagnose the cause, make the correct decision on remedial action and return the plant to full production. They are rated on a number of elements including number of steps taken and the speed to return to full production.
The scenarios can be set to be randomly triggered or set specifically by the training supervisor if a focus on a certain area is required.
An integrated Web Reporting Package tracks operator competence and monitors improvement over time.
A key component of the training simulator is to enable operators to be assessed on a range of scenarios based on a grading criteria. On completion of each scenario, the operator’s score is stored in the Web Reporting Package so supervisors can track the operator’s performance and identify any areas where further training is required.