Keys to Improving Power Plant EfficiencyMarch 8, 2018
Conduct of Operations Documentation Improves Safety and EfficiencyMarch 30, 2018
Although gas turbines are used throughout the power generation industry, their design and operation can vary greatly. These gas turbines can be simple cycle or combined cycle, can run on various fuels (sometimes simultaneously), and can have a variety of design features and operational complexity. Despite all of these differences, they all have one thing in common: THE OPERATOR.
The operator is the person ultimately responsible for the operation of the gas turbine systems. In many cases, these operations have been greatly automated – the operator can start the turbine with the push of a button or the click of a mouse. Under normal circumstances, the turbine systems start up and operate as designed, and minimal, if any, operator involvement is necessary. However, these automated systems are not perfect, and often an issue arises which requires operator intervention to stop the process or to correct a problem to allow the process to continue.
Is the operator able to respond to these errors? Does the operator have the knowledge and ability to identify issues and to take action to correct them? The ability of the gas turbine to come on-line for power generation depends on the knowledge and capability of the operator.
To be able to properly operate this complex piece of machinery, the operator must understand not just HOW the system works, but WHY the system works – the theory behind the operations is just as critical as the operations themselves. Additionally, operators must understand not just normal operations, but abnormal operations as well – what to do in the event of equipment malfunction. Training programs are crucial to maintaining the operational ability of a gas turbine facility.
Power Plant Training Program Components
There are several key components to consider when developing a training program:
- Analysis: Before developing any training program, you must understand both the current training situation as well as the goals of the training program itself. The core of the training plan is how to improve operational readiness and achieve business goals through training. From this analysis, and understanding of training needs can be made as well as a plan developed to address those needs.
- Design: Following the development of the training plan, a training program can be designed. This design phase includes decisions such as audience, delivery methods, duration, assessment, and feedback. Is classroom training the correct learning environment for the audience? Would a computer-based training program be more effective? How much time can be devoted to the training? These are all factors to take into consideration when designing a training program.
- Development: Once a training program has been designed, the development process refines that design into the course elements. This is the course content that should match the training plan developed during the analysis phase.
- Implementation: Once a training program has been developed, it can be implemented. Exactly how this implementation occurs depends greatly upon the audience and structure of the program decided during the design phase. For classroom training, this includes things such as trainee schedule, trainer schedule, and classroom availability.
- Evaluation: After a training program has been implemented, it should be tested to ensure that it is meeting the needs of the training assessment, i.e. did the training meet the goals? Feedback from the trainee is critical and should be applied to all aspects of the process.
Successful facilities use this method to develop a multi-tiered approach to training, which includes an initial training and qualification program for new operators, a continuing training program, and specific needs training for one-time training situations, such as critical facility upgrades.
Can your gas turbine facility improve operational readiness and achieve business goals through training?
Dale Stevick is a Senior Specialist at Fossil Consulting Services. Dale spent 22 years in the U.S. Navy running nuclear powered submarines, and has worked for FCS for 4 years. Dale is a recognized expert on Natural Gas Conversions at FCS, having commissioned and worked 5 coal-to-gas conversions. Most recently, Dale worked on the conversion of four boilers in the Gary, Indiana area. He provides technical consulting services to utility, independent power, and government clients in the areas of fossil/cogeneration/hydro power plant training needs assessments, program design, development and implementation, as well as auditing of existing programs and materials to ensure compliance with client needs and expectations.
What a great read! Im an ex navy nuke myself. Keep up the great work Dale!
Carl, thank you very much!