To some console operators leaving at shift change with no outstanding alarms, and all the trends appear to be straight lines, is the hallmark of a good shift handover to the next shift. They consider themselves a good console operator.
But, the next shift comes on and the console operator sees that the bottoms temperature is a little higher than usual and the pressure differential across the tower is starting to climb. Knowing the unit, the console operator realizes that the added heat in the bottom is sending more vapor up through the tower. This is causing the pressure differential to increase that, left unchanged, will eventually send the tower off-spec.
Knowing your unit means you understand the normal operating parameters of critical process variables and the consequences when they deviate. Using the tools built into your DCS, you can monitor key process variable trends and address a situation before it becomes a problem.
The previous good console operator could have waited for an alarm and then fixed the problem when the alarm sounded, but the great console operator, using their unit knowledge, proactively addressed the problem and saved the company and downstream units from dealing with off-spec product. No alarms—just knowledge of the unit and a developed skill of being proactive.
Can your company afford to have good console operators, or should you strive to have great console operators? Dynamic process simulators, coupled with goal-driven curriculum, and experienced instructors can develop your operators to increase their knowledge and skills.
Let Systran work with your console operators to increase their knowledge and skills, to use their tools and resources to understand the big picture, recognize and control situations before they cost you money, or worse, a customer.
Written by: Gary Sproull, 37 years as an operator in the petrochemical industry and current Operations Specialist at Systran, Inc.
Interested in ways that Systran can help take your operators from good to great? Visit our Operations and Training Simulator Center page to learn more.