Electrical engineering services provider Matra has developed a computer-based training (CBT) tool to demonstrate how multiple variables affecting one another can be applied to any process in the chemicals and pulp and paper industries.
Matra sole proprietor David Leigh highlights that the Principles of Process Interactions (Popi) system, introduced onto the market at the end of last year, aims to help all plant and process operators understand the complexities of the processes they have to undertake.
“All manufacturing processes entail multiple raw materials, additives, energy and often effluent. The quality of the end product is usually determined by the interactions of the ingredients and operator actions. Therefore, how these variables and factors, such as temperature, affect the end product is what Popi can explain,” he illustrates.
Leigh says the Popi system can be implemented by anyone who has a good understanding of the processes being taught, with numerous CBT-authored packages available that can serve as a platform to build a Popi interface. More guidelines can be made available to any trainer who would like to implement Popi for a particular process.
“With Popi being a CBT tool, the content can be copied onto the hard drive of a computer. This enables anyone to use the system for a training session for operators. Any individual can learn from it, even if they have never used a computer before.”
Leigh comments that the use of conventional training tools does not ovecome the challenges posed by the education gap and the complexity of processes.
In terms of complex processes, he adds, highly qualified engineers often have great difficulty in identifying the cause of process and quality problems, owing to the multiplicity and interdependence of the various process parameters.
“Even teaching root-cause analy- sis will not help the operator if he/she does not have an understanding of the process as a whole. The latter, however, cannot be achieved without first providing a good foundation of basic machine principles,” Leigh comments.
Matra provides a better understanding of the whole process by breaking it down into a sequence of small subprocesses and machines using the CBT tool.
Leigh notes that all variables and parameters that can affect the end product are made available to the learner, who can adjust them accordingly. Therefore, the solution uses scenario-based demonstrations of how different variables affect each another.
He says the primary advantage of CBT is that the expert knowledge of process engineers can be encapsulated in graphic format, which makes the understanding of technical concepts easy.