TECNATOM: TRAINING FOR EXCELLENCE
Tecnatom is a Spanish engineering company that has provided services to the nuclear industry since its creation, in 1957. The company’s main activity centres around the delivery of inspection and component structural integrity services, the training of operational personnel by means of full-scope simulators and engineering services in support of plant operation. Over the last decade, Tecnatom has diversified the services and products it offers in the international marketplace, targeting other industrial sectors such as aeronautics, the petrochemical industry, etc. Nowadays, Tecnatom has become a global leader in delivering advanced engineering services. It operates in over 30 countries and employs more than 750 people providing professional services to leading customers in different markets. The company supplies services and products with a high technological component, which it continuously improves in order to adapt to the needs and requirements of both clients and markets.
One of Tecnatom’s main activities of is to provide technical support for the safe, reliable and efficient operation of complex industrial facilities. For this, Tecnatom Safety, Operation & Training Services Department designs, organises and manages Training Centres that support the improvement of human performance.
The level of qualification of nuclear power plant personnel has evolved very rapidly in recent years, primarily driven by the “generational change-over” that has occurred at Spanish plants. The basis for this change has been knowledge transfer between experienced and newly-hired personnel, the reinforcement of safety culture, systematic training programmes specifically designed to ensure the necessary expertise required for different plant jobs, and the application of advances in information and communication technologies to training provision.
In order to support Spanish nuclear power plants, Tecnatom offers an integral training programme. Its ultimate objective is to have reliable personnel working in the plant who are highly qualified and competent at their job. The programme includes the recruitment, selection and training of candidates. A careful process of recruitment and selection is very important because starting with quality raw materials is a key factor for success.
Tecnatom training services include the following:
• The design, organisation and management of Training Centres
• The design, development and supply of training simulators
• The development of advanced training tools
• Operator training and re-qualification
• Maintenance training
• Engineering and technical assistance training
• Recruitment and personnel selection
More than 500 Training Units and a team of highly qualified instructors guarantee training based on practical reality and adapted to meet the specific requirements of each client.
Tecnatom training services in nuclear power plants are addressed to different categories of personnel, such as licensed operation personnel, licensed radiological protection experts, non-licensed personnel and sub-contractors. The training programmes for each category have been designed and developed in accordance with national requirements and international qualification standards. Because Tecnatom believes that a key factor in improving performance is the human competence factor, a systematic approach to training (SAT) methodology has been implemented.
Competence means the sum total of knowledge, skills and aptitudes acquired which, obtained by means of training and the accumulation of experience, lead to excellent performance. So, development training plans focus on the knowledge, skills and aptitudes that every worker must have to perform his/her work properly and improve his/her performance. As a result, the plants have training programmes that are tailor-made to suit practically every job specification and they all have a similar structure: common general training, specific occupational training and on-the-job training.
In order to raise the quality standards of its training services, Tecnatom collaborates with major international nuclear training organisations, such as the Institute of Nuclear Operations (INPO), the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Regarding this, Tecnatom has established an agreement with INPO for the transfer of knowledge and methodology that includes training courses, benchmarking activities and technical support services.
With regards to the training scenarios developed by Tecnatom it’s worth emphasising the use of the following tools:
• Full-scope simulators
• Interactive graphic simulators
• Hydraulic loop
• Human factor simulator
Tecnatom is a simulator manufacturer and is continually striving to improve and broaden the range of tools it has developed for trainees. Tecnatom has developed advanced teaching resources like full-scope simulators - an essential training resource for operational and engineering functions at nuclear facilities. Nowadays, in Tecnatom there is one full-scope simulator replica for the control room of every Spanish nuclear power plant that offers training for control room personnel. In addition to the full-scope simulators, Tecnatom has developed interactive graphic simulators, a pedagogical and analytical tool with active monitors that provides information about the process and make it possible to intervene. Every Spanish nuclear power plant has an interactive graphic simulator that is used for different training courses.
With regards to non-licensed personnel training there has been a continuous upgrade of didactic material, tools and equipment. In addition to providing traditional training in a workshop environment, Tecnatom has also designed a hydraulic loop to recreate a dynamic training environment. This has been used regularly, and its use has increased as new training
needs have arisen. The initial development investment has reaped rewards, as early training provision has been successfully completed. This in turn has supported the development of new capabilities and improvements in the quality of the training provided.
Training nuclear power plant personnel to acquire non-technical competences has been a permanent feature of Tecnatom training programmes since 1994. What began as a complement to the technical training of control rooms teams has progressively become an essential component of the overall training offer, not only for this category of staff, but also for all the personnel working in nuclear facilities.
Training in operational-related human factors has gradually been enhanced. This has included training in human error prevention techniques, active participation in safety culture development programmes and management training for the personnel
responsible for the plants. Training also covers the reinforcement of safe operational procedures in the control room and other programmes intended to teach students human intervention strategies and encourage them to reflect upon their importance to the safe operation of nuclear facilities. Tecnatom has developed a human factors simulator to check the effectiveness of using a series of tools to improve both individual and team-based human performance.
New Advanced Didactic Media
The large amount of didactic material and project documentation included in nuclear power plant training manuals makes it difficult for students to rapidly access information during the final phases of their training. In order to improve this, Tecnatom has applied advances in information and communication technologies to training. As a result, a new training tool for students and instructors has been implemented. It is based on a laptop with a notebook type interface, known as “tablet PC,” and has replaced 98 % of the documentation that was previously paper-based.
This new tool has introduced major changes in the learning process, including rapid, interactive access to all information and knowledge, the incorporation of multimedia content and virtual control room simulation. Students have all the information available to them and can make notes using a digital notebook. They can also provide summaries by using writing recognition, or access multimedia content related to the courses. Thanks to the portable nature of the equipment this can be done in an easy
way, while working in a natural, ergonomic position - any time, any place. International organisations like INPO and IAEA consider this way of delivering and managing didactic material to be “good practice.”
Looking to the future
Nuclear knowledge is increasing as time goes by, thanks to research and experience, and it is very important to maintain and transfer it from generation to generation. Also worthy of mention here are the efforts being made to improve and complete knowledge management and transfer, as well as to upgrade the training tools that have been developed.
Within the context of the nuclear renaissance, Tecnatom has designed a “nuclearisation” training programme for new power plants.
As far as the running of a nuclear power plant is concerned, human performance with minimum error improves safety, availability and economic efficiency. And this is only possible with an excellent training provision. As training is the improvement of strategic tools used to promote excellence in human performance, Tecnatom will continue to do all it can to improve its training services in order to offer its clients training solutions in tune with their needs.