Recognizing malfunctions, changing pressures, reducing fan speeds: complex everyday operational tasks that WACKER’s trainees can experience, analyze, and handle virtually on their computers. “Our process control simulator, which came into operation in 2008, makes training more vivid and realistic,” explains Horner, as he attentively observes the trainees. “The trainees understand process interrelations better, they gain an impression of our process control systems – which they can work on just as in real-life operations, and, above all, they can carry out all the steps repeatedly and reflect on them in detail.” Each year, 44 chemical technologists start their training at Wacker Chemie AG. In total, there are 176 chemical technologists in training at the 47 WACKER production facilities that take on trainees. They interpret trend curves that show and document the course of production over long periods of time, adjust control unit parameters optimally, use online functional specifications, and can start up or shut down facilities virtually.
Horner reports with great enthusiasm on the latest tool in which he, along with almost a dozen colleagues from WACKER’s in-house Engineering department and the Vocational Training Center, has invested a lot of energy since 2005. The team developed a software solution that links the process control system used in the plants with the simulator. “With the process control simulator, we can depict nearly 100 measuring instruments in a distillation facility and operate them virtually with sensors and hand valves. To do this, the simulator solves 20,000 equations with 47,000 variables,” describes Horner, detailing the operating mode of the simulator, which is part of a practice facility in the training lab.