Our Thinking

Utilizing 3D Models for Training

Training new control room operators often involves visits to the field to introduce and familiarize learners with equipment and other utility infrastructure. These field site visits are critical to enabling trainees to understand the equipment’s components, how it operates in the field, and how field personnel interact safely with assets. As utilities struggle to coordinate these field visits and make them worthwhile, especially during the pandemic, many are considering alternative options.

Bringing a 3D model into the control room involves following a systematic approach to model development.

  1. Determine the level of detail.
  2. Visually map out how the model will be used to illustrate training needs.
  3. Capture equipment data using datasheets, laser scanning, or field pictures.
  4. Create a base model for the project.
  5. Work with grid operations and field experts to ensure the model accurately depicts how the devices are installed and utilized in the field.

Effective utilization of a 3D model for training requires identifying Who, What, When, and How.

  • First, who in the company will receive the training? Control room personnel, engineers, apprentices?
  • Next, what is the focus or learning outcome that the training will meet? New equipment deployment, reconfigured equipment, or a deeper understanding of existing equipment?
  • When will this training be deployed? As part of an apprenticeship program, initial operator training, or continual competency-based training?
  • And finally, how will it be deployed?

A basic deployment may involve simple 3D images that show a piece of equipment in various configurations and from any angle, such as air-break switches in a substation. In this example, the switches can be safely modeled in 3D to illustrate the open and closed positions without physically touching a device. The same 3D model can be animated to demonstrate physical actions to change the device’s state from one configuration to another. The full benefits of 3D models are realized by enabling their deployment using various methods for different audiences and training needs.