New Interactive Plant Environment facility prepares the next-generation digital workforce, helps improve productivity, and reduces training requirements
In a move to help the industry accelerate digital transformation and evolve the manufacturing workforce, Emerson conducted its first classes at the new Interactive Plant Environment (IPE) in Shakopee, Minn., while hosting the annual Emerson Global Users Exchange. Emerson is continuing its leadership in training the digital workforce of the future.
Many graduates today start their careers without having spent any time in an actual process manufacturing facility. Seasoned engineers, meanwhile, are called on to assume new responsibilities to fill knowledge gaps. To help producers meet these challenges, Emerson’s Interactive Plant Environment provides a fixed, scaled-down physical training facility with actual process units, instrumentation, and control systems that immerse students in real-world scenarios, making it easier for them to retain and use what they learn in their own facilities.
The IPE facility is designed to allow students to go into a plant and execute work orders in a safe training environment. It features 15 tanks and vessels, spanning three levels, with the ability to physically emulate a production process to move water and oil. The facility is equipped with more than 600 Emerson automation products, featuring hundreds of measurement points including pressure, flow, level, temperature, flame and gas, liquid analysis, and gas chromatography.
Putting theory into practice in an immersive environment
The facility, which is the world’s largest IPE, includes a classroom where students learn about theory of operation to advanced troubleshooting. After classroom instruction, they are given work orders and go into the plant to apply what they’ve learned. In traditional classroom-only training approaches, students often lack practical application experience, resulting in improving incremental on-site on-the-job Training. Emerson solves this dilemma with the hands-on portion of the IPE classes, providing practical, real-world scenarios which put theory into practice.
The courses are designed to mirror real-life. Students receive work orders on a variety of scenarios, such as commissioning a new device, calibrating an existing device, or assessing a challenging measurement point. The classes also review safety permits and tools required to complete work orders, just as they’re likely to see in their own facility.
The next best thing to on-the-job training, without the risk
Real-world scenarios help develop a range of skills from basic instrument skills to critical thinking and problem solving skills, which helps trainees better operate their plants and increase efficiencies. By providing a safe, distraction-free environment where engineers and technicians can apply the new concepts and techniques they learn in the classroom on live equipment, students will leave with a better understanding and vision of how a whole plant works. Emerson certified instructors act more as mentors, bringing their years of field service experience to help students increase their skills.
The first Interactive Plant Environment facility opened in 2014 at Emerson’s Service Center in Charlotte, NC, followed by this second facility in Shakopee, Emerson’s innovation headquarters for Rosemount products and services. Both facilities feature tanks, pumps, valves, and devices instrumented with virtually every device that can connect to Emerson’s DeltaV™ distributed control system.