An industrial power plant at sunset

Tiered Approach to Complex Training Requirements

Power plants and other complex industrial facilities require extensive initial training for new operators and technicians. For some, this can be a daunting experience due to the sheer volume of information that needs to be digested.  As the saying goes, “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time…” – Training is more manageable when presented in smaller chunks.  Moreover, a tiered approach to the initial qualification program is probably the best solution.

As an example, major equipment at a Combined Cycle Combustion Turbine facility is already complex on its own!  The combination of a Simple Cycle Combustion Turbine, a Heat Recovery Steam Generator (boiler), Steam Turbine Generator, and all the various pieces of support equipment is a large elephant indeed!

Breaking Down the Elephant

We can begin by breaking the facility down into its major sections.  Then, continuing with the example of the Combined Cycle Facility, we might break it down into four sections.  In this way, even though everything works together, these almost stand-alone blocks create a logical progression of training for the new employee. So, the top tier for a typical Combined Cycle Combustion Turbine facility would look something like:

  • Tier 1 – Simple Cycle Combustion Turbine
  • Tier 2 – Heat Recovery Steam Generator and Steam Turbine
  • Tier 3 – Supporting Sub-systems
  • Tier 4a – Logic, Controls, Interlocks, and Protection Equipment
  • Tier 4b – Maintenance Practices and Troubleshooting

Breaking down the facility into tiers also makes the training more versatile. In the example above, most of the in-depth logic and controls have been combined into their own tier, as have maintenance and troubleshooting.  Therefore allowing the other tiers to be useful to a wider audience without getting into unnecessary detail.  However, the detail is still there for those who do need it.

Creating Bite Sizes

Once individual tiers have been identified, those can then be broken down further into their individual systems and major components, creating an individual chapter or module for each major plant system.  For example, we might break Tier 1 – Simple Cycle Combustion Turbine down something like this:

  • Overview
  • Air Inlet and Compressor
  • Combustion Turbine and Exhaust
  • Electrical Theory and Turbine Generator
  • Fuel Oil
  • Fuel Gas
  • Lubricating and Hydraulic Oil
  • NOx Water
  • Cooling
  • Electrical Distribution
  • Fire Suppression
  • Integrated Operating Procedures

The remaining tiers would be broken down in similar fashion, isolating individual systems and major components into their own individual chapters or modules.  Additionally, each individual module within the tier might be broken down even further, depending on your organization’s needs.  For example, each module might include items such as:

  • System Training Manual
  • System Walk-down / Field Exercise
  • Study / Qualification Guide
  • Written Examination
  • Practical Examination

By breaking down this extremely complex Combined Cycle Combustion Turbine Facility into individual tiers, breaking those tiers into modules, and breaking those modules into standardized components, the once daunting task of eating the elephant becomes much more manageable for the trainee.  So, how could your facility benefit from a tiered approach to training?

What Now?

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