This presentation focuses on complex responsibilities of console operators in the ethylene industry, and the type of competency-based training that is needed to prepare them for the various circumstances they will encounter while in control of these highly integrated processes.
For all the billions of dollars that are spent on an ethylene plant and the rigorous standards inherent in engineering, design, instrumentation, automation and safety systems, the day to day control of these plants rests in the hands of console operators for whom neither the state nor the industry impose any competency standards. Unlike every other discipline in the plant that requires some type of university accreditation or third-party trade certification, qualification to operate the plant is conferred upon console operators by their coworkers, who themselves were trained and qualified similarly.
Ethylene producers are relying increasingly more on high-fidelity simulators to improve the performance of their console operators, by giving them real-life ethylene plant operating experience on a simulator built to accurately reflect the operating conditions of the actual plant. Once installed the responsibility for simulator training typically falls in the hands of an experienced operator, who through no fault of their own, never had a simulator on which to train. To provide these trainers with a structured, competency-based approach to simulator training it is necessary to develop a comprehensive set of unit-specific simulator scenarios. Real-life plant situations that when practiced and mastered prepare the console operator to manage the full range of process conditions as a competent professional. The paper will discuss how this training approach improves the safe operation of ethylene units and the plant overall.
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