Training of pipeline dispatchers has historically been slow because training is on-the-job. This paper introduces the concept of an off-line training system for dispatchers. Analogous in purpose to the airplane pilot's computer-based flight training simulator, the training system discussed combines a comprehensive model of pipeline hydraulic and control systems with a SCADA simulator to produce a realistic substitute for the pipeline. This system can be used for training by presenting to the trainee the kinds of displays, controls, and responses he will experience on a real pipeline. The paper outlines the control systems which are typically found in pipelines and shows the simulated SCADA displays which are used as the trainee interface. It presents a set of training sessions in which the trainee controls flow rates up and down using standard pipeline control procedures. We watch as the trainee examines displays, enters commands, and requests and receives trend and profile plots of the pipeline variables which result from the training session. Finally, the paper concludes with a section outlining the requirements for building the data and displays necessary to permit training lessons on any pipeline system. We discover also that the trainer can prepare archived series of lessons which can be presented in sequence to introduce the trainee to a wide variety of operating problems, including unexpected upsets.
The pipeline dispatcher may face many challenges each time operating conditions change in his pipeline. Equipment failure, unexpected load changes, interrupted supplies, or loss of communication and control are among the more serious dispatcher problems. Historically, dispatchers have been trained apprentice-like on-the-job. Stress situations are typically met by an experienced dispatcher who has dealt with them for years. The apprentice learns of problems and methods of solving them by observing actual pipeline situations. Because of the associated risks on a large pipeline, a stress situation rarely if ever is contrived solely for training the apprentice. He therefore meets situations as they arise on the line, and the frequency of serious situations may, fortunately, be quite low. The other side of that coin, however, is that the most seriously threatening situations may never be experienced by any dispatcher until they are there to be dealt with. Still a third is that since so many threatening situations arise infrequently, the standard procedures for coping with them are often ultra conservative. The purpose of the dispatcher's training model is quite like that of the airplane pilot's flight training simulator. While the pilot trainee "flies" in a mock cockpit on the ground surrounded by a computer-generated simulation of the experiences of controlling an airplane, the dispatcher trainee "operates" a phantom pipeline surrounded by a computer-generated simulation of the experiences of controlling a real one. As such the training model provides a truly realistic alternative to on-the-job training. The intent of the system described in this paper is to provide a SCADA-like display console which presents to the dispatcher-trainee the same interaction he would experience if he were running a real pipeline.