A new mobile process control training tool developed by Werner Electric Supply means the company can offer educational opportunities to both its customers and students interested in learning more about the trades.
The Multifunction Instrumentation Asset, or MIA, can be brought to customers’ worksites, colleges or high schools for automatic process control training. Rodney Howard, product manager of process controls for Werner, and his team spent a year and a half developing the tool, a six-figure investment for the company. They received design recommendations from the International Society of Automation.
“As of today, we can bring this training demo to their facility and do it on their premises tomorrow,” says Scott Teerlinck, president of Werner. “This is a big step forward for us providing technical assistance and support and guidance to our customers.”
The simulator is a first of its kind in the state. In the past, when Werner customers wanted to get trained on process control, they had to go to the nearest center in St. Louis or wait for a nationally sponsored class to be available in the state.
The company worked with its partners to develop MIA, and many of its vendors, including Rockwell Automation, Arjay Automation and Badger Meter, donated instrumentation for the simulator.
MIA is designed for use in the food and beverage, paper and pulp, and energy industries. It can replicate and run process scenarios found in a manufacturing plant, including flow, level, pressure and temperature control, data collection and sequence control. Teerlinck anticipates the tool will help the company serve a higher number of customers across the state.
Some of its training applications include alarm management, deep dive sessions in which customers are trained in automatic process control fundamentals, and process training to show employees how to extract and use relevant data. In addition to bringing MIA to customers’ sites, Werner offers classes at its facilities.
“What this does is it allows you to try to replicate some of your more complex strategies here so you’re not putting your planning at risk,” Howard says.
While the company is excited to share the tool with its customers, it’s equally enthusiastic about MIA’s potential for attracting young workers to manufacturing careers. Werner can bring the unit, which measures 82x26x80 inches, to high schools to give students a hands-on learning opportunity and get them excited about the high-tech opportunities the industry offers. Fox Valley Technical College plans to use MIA to train and educate future engineers.
“We really want to use this training tool to get people, especially students, interested in jobs in manufacturing by giving them a chance to get hands-on experience and, through MIA, learn what process control is,” Howard says. “Many people don’t recognize that there are processes taking place all around them, and we want to shine a light on the jobs available in this industry.”