CEPEL has developed a computer software called ASTRO (Simulated Environment for Operator Training), whose goal is to simulate failures that may occur in the electrical system in order to train operators in different situations before they actually occur so that operator training needs are met.
The software's biggest advantages are:
• It can be used without instructor intervention;
• It does not require removing the operator from his work environment;
• It does not incur in large expenditures for the creation of a training infrastructure.
ASTRO does not include an electrical network simulator. It is a simulator of system operation, coupled with a methodology for the evaluation of the operator actions. Nevertheless, it can be integrated with simulators such as TOPSIM, a bundle which will consist in a complete training and simulation tool.
ASTRO is seamlessly integrated into SAGE (Supervision and Control Software System developed in CEPEL and used by many Brazilian utilities). It can be used in an offline station, so that the simulation seems real to the operator but does not cause any change in the real electrical system.
The system allows operators familiarize themselves with fault situations before they occur. Thus, it allows them to understand and memorize the concepts associated to the operating instructions (IO), generating a greater automatism in their response to an actual fault and reducing the impact of the stress factors associated with energy losses. Therefore, when faced with the real situation, the operator will respond more efficiently and more effectively, performing the recomposition in a way that minimizes the damage associated with failures.
Besides, the system records all simulations executed and all actions performed by each operator. Thus, a supervisor can evaluate the quantity and the quality of each operator's training and evaluate if the operator has effectively managed to internalize the important concepts adjacent to each simulated situation. ASTRO includes an evaluation tool in order for the supervisor to check the progress of each trainee and assist in the ongoing process of conflict resolution.
In addition to that, the fact that ASTRO uses meager computational resources allows its installation in relatively inexpensive machines and in several substations, allowing the operators to conduct self-training, without incurring in significant costs for the utility.
In technical terms, ASTRO is a self-training tool that incorporates advanced educational concepts based on synesthetic memory and allows for the maximization of the results obtained by the training processes, while creating the conditions for operators to learn the fundamental concepts associated with the adequate reaction for the recovery of system processes after failures.
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