Planning should begin a year before start-up. If you wait too long, it likely will be too late. Our interactive operating manuals are the foundation of a first-class training program that results in your operators knowing the plant backward and forward well before start-up. Properly trained, your operators should know the key characteristics and variables associated with every unit operation and be able to describe and optimize every control loop and sequence.
Having extra people on hand during start-up is not the same as training your operators. After the “experts” leave, your operators still need to be adequately trained in order to optimize process variables, respond to alarms, and troubleshoot process upsets. Plus, a dynamic interactive training program is absolutely necessary in order to train operators hired after start-up, for refresher training, and as a continuing reference during operation. We suggest using your “experts” to review drafts of our training documentation and leave the expert computer-based training to us.
If you have decided to go with “temporary experts” for your training needs, consider this: How much fall-off in plant performance would have paid for a first-class training program instead? Assume your start-up “experts” optimize the plant at 90 percent recovery (or 148,500 ounces a year) at a revenue of $1,100 per ounce. Inadequately trained operators could allow the recovery to drop 5 percentage points to 85 percent at the same gold price, resulting in production of 140,250 ounces a year. This equals a loss of more than $9 million. All in, a first-class training program from PAI might have cost about $2.5 million, saving you a total of $6.5 million. You can see how investing in dynamic interactive training from the outset makes a huge amount of financial sense—especially during times of high employee turnover.
In all honesty, in our more than 30 years of experience assisting clients with plant start-ups, we have never seen supervisors be able to put together first-class interactive training that makes a real difference. Supervisors are busy doing other things, such as interviewing, studying piping and instrumentation diagrams, reviewing the hazard and operability study, etc. As far as training goes, supervisors are most valuable for reviewing the draft documents that our experts provide and offering suggestions and comments.
When a company attempts to have their supervisors develop operating manuals and an associated training program, they often find out too late that the program doesn’t work. Managers have told us again and again, “I wish I had seen [your program] before!”—at a point in the game when it was too late. We encourage you to participate in a conference call or online meeting so that you can see what an excellent program looks like. You’ve got one shot to do it right: Don’t let your start-up shut you down.
If you don’t have money for training in your budget, then you also don’t have money for start-up delays or plant modifications after start-up in order to achieve design nor will you have the money to cover costs associated with a failure to ever achieve design. Refer to our white paper:
Let’s say you’re investing $3.5 million in operations readiness and training for a $550-million gold mine and plant. Compared with a good start-up, an excellent start-up yields nearly a 1,600 percent internal rate of return on your investment in operations readiness in the first year alone. With this kind of financial result, you can’t afford not to invest the time and money. Setting aside money for operations readiness and a first-class training program is key to financial success.
Simply put, process simulators cannot train on the elements that need to be a part of an impactful training program. Future plant operators must be able to describe the process, unit operations, every control loop, each process variable target range, and control methods, as well as interlocks, alarms, operating procedures, and troubleshooting of upsets, all of which a process simulator is not equipped to handle. Process simulators are an excellent tool to use after basic and plant-specific process training. Refer to our white paper:
Engineering manuals are not training manuals. With more than 30 years of developing start-up training programs for metallurgical and industrial process plants, we know what training media needs to look like. Animated flowsheets, 3D animations, interactive testing, and simulation drills with instructors who have operating experience are all essential.
Our training developers are engineers with years of operations experience—not design experience. And they bring this real-world experience when training in the field at project sites all around the world. Compare your engineering company materials with a(versión en ), and you’ll know the difference.
Another reason why experienced operators make better trainers than design engineers: While reviewing information such as piping and instrumentation diagrams, control narratives, supplier data, etc., PAI engineers are—in effect—conducting a third-party audit of the design with specific reference to operability. With us, you get experienced engineer-operator-trainers plus design auditors, which means that any potential problems can be identified prior to start-up. Actual project problems we have identified that were able to be corrected before start-up include:
Using equipment suppliers for operator training is not effective—even if the suppliers provide good trainers, which is normally not the case. Equipment suppliers are able to provide training on the characteristics of their equipment only, and the quality of the documentation provided varies from supplier to supplier. As a result, trainees end up with an ad hoc mix of training materials and an incohesive understanding of the overall process.
Effective training is dynamic, interactive, customizable, and integrative. Our training covers the process as the feed flows through all of the equipment and explains how the feed changes chemically, physically, or thermodynamically. Furthermore, it explains in detail how the process variables are controlled, manually or automatically. Oftentimes control loops operate across several items of equipment (e.g., draft control via an induced draft fan, cyclone feed density control based on water addition to a sump upstream of the cyclone, etc.) and these are details that documentation provided by a single equipment supplier cannot provide.
Interlocks between different items of equipment (such as a low-low tank level alarm that trips a pump or a pump variable-speed drive controlling the flow to another tank based on the tank level) also cannot be effectively covered by a specific manufacturer’s trainer. PAI trainers, on the other hand, specialize in training on processes encompassing equipment from many different suppliers. PAI also trains operators on start-up sequences and procedures that cover the entire circuit. Independent equipment trainers provided by individual suppliers cannot offer this.
In short, equipment supplier trainers can be useful as part of a more comprehensive computer-based training program but they fail to truly convey an intricate understanding of an overall plant process that is necessary for effective performance. Our integrative bird’s-eye view is unique in the industry and is what sets us apart from other types of training. Refer to our white paper:
Don’t expect the equipment to be "new" for very long if you are not conducting routine preventive maintenance. Conducting mechanical, lubrication, and electrical PM procedures from the beginning is critical to ensure that the equipment continues to reliably operate as designed.
Also, realistically, it takes many months to analyze PM requirements for an entire suite of mine and plant equipment. PM procedures with photos and diagrams illustrating each step then need to be developed. Next, these draft procedures must be validated by maintenance specialists working with the equipment in the field. After corrections are made, the procedures are uploaded into the computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). Finally, during pre-start-up training, maintenance personnel in the field are drilled so that when operations start, they are thoroughly familiar with the procedures and lubrication specifications.
Once implemented, our tablet-based data management system Field Tracker allows specialists to complete PM procedures electronically, saving time and improving efficiency. Field Tracker instantly communicates problems, issues, and comments (including photographs and videos) from tradesman in the field to the planning system. Learn more here: