At KnowledgeOne, Virtual Training Is For Real!
Is it possible for someone to move from a virtual environment to a control room so seamlessly that they can hit the ground running and make the right decisions, almost as if they had been sitting in the operator’s chair for 10 or 15 years?
The answer is Yes – we make it happen time and again!
And we can do it for your learners.
To achieve this objective, we rely on custom simulation training solutions.
Wondering if simulation training
would benefit your business?
Why custom solutions?
There are custom virtual reality environments and there are generic ones.
The problem with the second category is that in reality, there is no such thing as a "generic industrial installation."
Of course, each type of installation displays certain common basic traits. However, within these categories, each plant or installation has characteristics of its own that make up its “personality,” so to speak, depending on:
- the type of factory
- the processes involved
- the type of equipment – or even the brand of equipment – used
- the general environment
Some installations have radically different reactions depending on the season or on the outside temperature – seasoned operators know this, and they react accordingly. (This is especially true in the paper industry, for example, where production conditions are very much affected by ambient temperatures.)
If each installation has its own personality, with its quirks and tendencies, its idiosyncrasies, this means that each installation will have its own specific problems, which may or may not arise elsewhere.
Hence the superiority of the custom model: simulators that reproduce these idiosyncrasies – and especially the problems that stem from them – are much more useful to operators, because they prepare them for the very type of troubleshooting they will be confronted with.
Not only will whatever they learn be more useful, but it will provide them with the opportunity to develop something that usually comes only with the passage of time: the opportunity to help them build their sixth sense, their intuition or their tacit knowledge of the operational environment.
Basically, two types of data are fed into the simulator:
- The production volumes that the factory was designed to achieve, with its actual temperatures, chemical products, pressures, outputs, etc.
- The training scenarios or case problems the learner will have to deal with.
The base of simulation training: Decision-making analyses
The real power of simulation training lies in the possibility it offers to develop decision-making capacities. Simulation training entails analyzing every action: the learner must be able to explain step by step why she took such and such a decision. Her capacity to do so demonstrates that she understands the underlying rules and principles, beyond the standard guidelines. In other words, since reality is unpredictable by definition, how will this person react when operations diverge from the normal flow?
How we develop simulation training solutions
The simulators we build at KnowledgeOne are based on the original engineering plans, and since no installation is fixed once and for all they also include any modifications that were made since it was built. Gaming software licenses are increasingly affordable – some are even open source and freely accessible. This makes it possible, at a highly cost-effective price, to develop virtual industrial environments that faithfully reproduce the original ones, with the layout and all the machinery, accessories, pipes, etc. Custom models like the ones we developed a KnowledgeOne are based on two major sources of information: systems and people.
First source of information: Systems
The PI System is a software solution which stores all the enterprise data for every event through up to 10,000 data collecting points per second. The extraordinary mass of data in the PI system is extremely useful to develop the simulator, but also to test it and make sure that it behaves the same way as the real-life model in different seasons or under certain circumstances, e.g. certain types of breakages or breakdowns. In other words, the data historian acts as a benchmark to see if the simulator produces substantially the same type of reaction. If the production system goes awry, for example, how does it happen? Which sector moves the fastest? Which one moves the slowest? What strategies did the operators use at the time, and which ones worked best?
Second source of information: People
The senior operators possess a wealth of knowledge and experience, which we can use to build the simulator and validate its reactions.Interviews with them can provide us with subjective information, such as their memories of incidents, plus they may keep a log of events and may have carried out research on certain incidents.
Operators as key influencers
More importantly, senior operators can assess the functioning of the simulator, which we ask them to do before delivery. First of all, this makes it possible to access tacit knowledge which is not available otherwise. Another good reason to get the operators to participate is that if they are involved in the project there is a better chances of a buy-in on their behalf, which will have a snowball effect on the other workers. Our experience has shown us that if the senior operators see the simulator as a valid training tool, the chances that it will be successful increase dramatically. So by earning their respect and trust we know that we improve our chances that others will follow suit, and all this will improve your ROI. After all, these learning tools are major long-term investments. The more refined the model, the less adaptation effort will be required when learners start working the actual system. However, there is a breaking point beyond which additional details require too much effort as compared to the learning benefits they yield.
Contact us to find out if simulation training could benefit your business.