Preparation of effective operating manuals to support process and power plant operator training

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Courtesy of MASAR Technologies, Inc.

Effective plant operating manuals used in a formal training program can make the difference between a successful operation and a failure. Once the plant process design and control strategies have been fixed, equipment has been ordered, and the plant is constructed, the only major variable affecting success is the capability of plant operating personnel. It is essential that the myriad details concerning plant operation are documented in comprehensive operating manuals suitable for training the non-technical personnel that will operate the plant.

These manuals must cover the fundamental principles of each unit operation including how each operates, what process variables are important, and the impact of each variable on the overall process. In addition, operators must know the process control strategies, interlocks, how to respond to alarms, each of the detailed procedures required to start up and optimize the plant, and every control loop—including when it is appropriate to take manual control.

More than anything else, operating mistakes during the start-up phase can lead to substantial delays in achieving design processing rates as well as to problems with government authorities if environmental permit limits are exceeded. The only way to assure return on plant investment is to ensure plant operators have the knowledge to properly run the plant from the outset. A comprehensive set of operating manuals specifically targeted toward plant operators and supervisors written by experienced operating personnel is the only effective way to provide the necessary information for formal start-up training.

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