Flow / Valves

Endress+Hauser Opens Process Training Units to Give Users a Real Feel for the Job

Hands-on training in a work environment provides a training experience that goes beyond the simulator

By Jim Montague,executive editor, Control

Hey, you! Look up from that smart phone or tablet PC for a second. Eyes and brain refocused? Good. Sorry to interrupt, but as usual, I've run across a few things you might want to know about.

Now Control and others have covered increasingly dynamic and onscreen simulations and their enabling software for years, and those pretty pictures just keep getting better, more detailed and more useful. Personally, I enjoy the gorgeous 3D renderings, I'm transfixed by their incorporation of operating parameters and motions, and I'm sure they'll draw many Generation XBoxers to the process control field.

Unfortunately, onscreen simulations aren't the, ahem, whole picture. Even using the latest virtual-reality headsets, they're still flat images seen though a small window and can't reflect all the sensory input of the physical reality they mimic. As the comedian Louis C.K. says about parents recording video instead of watching a school play, "The resolution on the kids is totally high-definition." Pretty images can't replace all the actual sights, sounds, touches and smells of physical events, and abundant research shows that stronger neural pathways, more vivid memories and better learning are created by real experiences.

See also: Automation companies prepare younger generations to replace retiring engineers

"We can even unexpectedly introduce problems like entrained air and teach students and users to solve them."

To give future, young and even veteran process engineers and operators more real-life, hands-on training or retraining, Endress+Hauser and friends recently designed and built their ninth and 10th process training units (PTUs) nationwide at its U.S. headquarters in Greenwood, Indiana, and at 52-year distributor George E. Booth Co., Inc. in Romeoville, Illinois. The two-story PTU—the "u" also stands for "university"—includes tanks, pumps, pipelines, valves, gauges, flowmeters, instruments, transmitters and many other devices, controls and software that students and other users can operate to learn how real process systems run, and most importantly, how experienced operators solve problems and optimize performance.

"One half of the PTU focuses on industrial applications found in chemical plants, steel mills and other processes, while the other features sanitary and stainless-steel facilities found in food and beverage, pharmaceutical and cosmetic applications," says Nick Hryniw, area sales manager at George E. Booth. "However, this isn't just a showplace or static, tabletop demonstration. It's an operating lab where we can run classes and even unexpectedly introduce problems like entrained air and teach students and users to solve them."

The PTU's construction team and contribution at George E. Booth include Waner Enterprises' building construction, A&R Erectors' mezzanine and PTU structure, BMW Constructors' mechanical piping, Endress+Hauser's process instrumentation, Samson Controls' control valves, Gebco II's on-off valve automation, Rockwell Automation's process control systems, Jogler's sight glasses/stilling wells, and Sharpe Valves' on-off valves.

Besides Hosting Tours and Test Drives

Training programs offered at George E. Booth's PTU include basic and regular instrumentation, pH conductivity and measurement, liquid analytical measurement, Coriolis flow, introductory and advanced flow or level, radar level, time of flight, free space and guided-wave radar level, pressure and temperature, and certified Profibus PA.

Finally, to really put the "university" in PTU, Hryniw adds that George E. Booth is even talking with nearby Joliet Junior College about running some of its process control automation classes at the PTU. Other than taking over an actual process plant, there's probably no better way to teach control and automation, and develop all those engineers that everyone will need soon, if not immediately.