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A New Approach for Professional Training of Staff for Desalination Plants

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   Presented at the conference on Desalination and the Environment. Sponsored by the European Desalination Societyand Center for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH), Sani Resort, Halkidiki, Greece, April 22–25, 2007. training for the operating and management staff of desalination plants Joachim Gebel*, Süleyman Yüce S.T.E.P. Consulting GmbH, Oppenhoffallee 49, D - 52066 Aachen, Germany Tel. + 49 241 9019996; email: gebel@stepconsulting.de Received 28 September 2006; accepted 3 January 2007 Abstract For the expected installation and operation of additional seawater desalination plants, manpower is needed.Besides the financing and the manufacturing of these plants, the training of the future staff is a big challenge. It isassumed that in the MENA region each year more than 1000 people will have to be trained. The present and future problem at seawater desalination plants, i.e. the lack of experienced personnel, is also a lack of instructors.There are already existing institutions and facilities in various countries carrying out well-organized training programs at site. In addition, there are many excellent short courses and workshops organized by organisationslike EDS or MEDRC — nevertheless, the crucial question remains whether these structures are strong enough tomeet the growing demand for professional training in the future. When talking about training programs, thequestion of how to finance these measurements emerges directly. The solution can be found in an improvement of the availability of the plants. A higher availability resulting in a higher fresh water production rate could beobtained by well-trained staff able to react in a proper way to any disturbances or unstable operation modes of the plant. The so-called “Twinning-Model” could be a suitable approach to meet the demand for professionaltraining. A central training facility called TFEU (based in Europe and affiliated to an existing university or atechnical school) is one of the twins and plays the part as developer of training programs (curricula), as instructor for the trainers and as trainer for advanced and simulator courses. Following the curricula, additional experts fromother universities or companies are integrated in the team. After an initial phase needed for the training of thetrainers, the local “twin” called TFLO is responsible for the fundamental and main training program. A board comprised of participants from all parties involved (i.e. TFEU and TFLO, the manufacturers as well as theoperators) surveys the curricula and examination procedures.  Keywords: Operation; Availability; Staff; Training; Curricula; Twinning-Model *Corresponding author. A new approach to meet the growing demand of professional Desalination 220 (2008) 150–164 doi:10.1016/j.desal.2007.01.0290011-9164/08/$– See front matter © 2008 Published by Elsevier B.V.   J. Gebel, S. Yüce / Desalination 220 (2008) 150–164 151 1. Introduction It is undisputed amongst international experts,that the importance of seawater and brackishwater desalination for the fresh water supply willincrease as a result of the worsening shortage of renewable water resources in Southern Europe and the MENA region. For the expected installationand operation of additional desalination plants,well-trained personnel is of vital importance. That said, several questions pop up immedi-ately: (1)How can the money needed over the nextdecade be raised for the manufacturing of the desalination plants? (2)Who has the qualification to design, manu-facture and erect these plants in a reasonabletime frame? (3)Who is able to operate these plants so thatthe preset conditions of the cost-benefitcalculation are fulfilled? (4)Where will the personnel needed for a proper operation of the plants be recruited from? The primary focus of this paper is to discuss thelast two points above. Points 1 and 2 will surely bediscussed in further sessions of this conference.Thus we are searching for answers regarding howto recruit the appropriate staff of desalination plants.As we immerse ourselves into this quite gen-erally posed question we will face the following problems: ãWhat number of personnel are needed for managing and operating a desalination plantat a given capacity? ãWhat should the employees’ structure look like?ãWhat kind of entry qualifications should berequested? ãHow will we accrue people needed for this job and where will they come from? ãShould we train these people ourselves and if “YES”:  –Who should know what?  –Where could the training be held?  –How much would the training cost? Regarding these questions posed, the paper isdivided into 3 main chapters: After finishing this introduction we will dis-cuss staff requirement and employees structureof a typical seawater desalination plant. Whichentry qualification for the training program isrequested from the trainees and which skills areneeded for the individual job on the plant will be subject of the following chapter. Before we present a new approach to meeting the growingdemand on professional training the presentsituation in the training market will be explained and assessed. To avoid questions out of the readershipsuch as “And what about the costs? This sub- ject will be discussed as always at the end of the paper where we will get a nasty surprise!”,this here is a preliminary remark to this crucial point. In order to be able to calculate the productioncost of 1m 3  of fresh water by desalination anavailability of the plant has to be assumed (some-times by experience, sometimes by wishfulthinking). According to the definition of availabil-ity the total number of operating hours at fullload have to be compared to the total number of hours per year. To obtain as high an availabilityas possible, a lot of money is spent for processequipment, process automation and processcontrol systems. This will help to avoid unsafeoperation, trips and damage of the plant equip-ment. Nevertheless, unforeseen events could cause a lot of trouble, such as shutdown of the plant causing a standstill period, which would really hurt. Despite all the high-sophisticated hardware, avoiding such events and proper trou- ble shooting is in the end a matter of the staff. InGermany for instance, the essential part of thetraining program for power plant operators isdedicated to this subject, this means simulator training at best equipped work places. Let us assume that for an economic efficiencycalculation the availability  f   of a desalination plant has been preset to 0.95, i.e.  152  J. Gebel, S. Yüce / Desalination 220 (2008) 150–164 Thus the number of operating hours at fullload is: Or vice versa, the number of non-operatinghours (NOH), i.e. plant standstill, is: The standstill period includes both regular shutdowns (i.e. for maintenance, repair and over-haul purposes) and unforeseen events. Regardinga desalination plant with a nominal capacity of 40,000m 3 /d a standstill period of one day resultsin a loss of 30,000  h , assumed that the specific prize for fresh water produced by the plant is0.75  h /m 3 . If the availability is reduced to 0.9 dueto unforeseen events in combination with non professional action of the staff, the additionalstandstill periods leads to a total deficit of: If this scenario takes place every year duringa 10years operation time the deficit compared with the figures of the cost-benefit calculationwill accumulate to nearly 5.5million  h ! (Plantcapacity: 40,000m 3 /d, specific fresh water prize:0.75  h /m 3 .) This calculation procedure sets the frame for the overall budget sum when discussing training programs and costs. An improvement of the avail-ability by only one percentage point, i.e. 3.65days per year additional full water production, would result for our exemplary desalination plant in anadditional revenue of more than 1million  h  over an operation time of 10years. At the end of the paper fees and supplementarycosts for training programs will be presented inorder to be able to evaluate the individual case. 2. Personnel on desalination plants — demand and structure In 2003 the two consultant companiesWANGNICK and S.T.E.P. conducted a com- prehensive survey in behalf of the GermanGesellschaft für Technische ZusammenarbeitGmbH (GTZ). This survey discussed the per-sonnel situation at the existing and planned future desalination plants in the MENA countries.According to the biannual IDA Inventory Report[1], a questionnaire mailed to plant operators,consultants and manufacturers, and a modeldeveloped by WANGNICK (taking into accountsuch parameters like population growth, grossnational product and renewable water resources)the future desalination capacity could be esti-mated for each individual country of the MENAregion. As Fig. 1 shows the mean value of thecontracted and installed desalination capacitycan be approximated by means of an exponen-tial function of time resulting in a doubling of the desalination capacity for the next 10years(i.e. 2015/2016). Knowing that the today’sinstalled capacity is about 40millionm 3 /d addi-tional 40millionm 3 /d have to be installed! In order to obtain the future personnel demand it was first necessary to analyse the situation on plants in operation. Based on the above mentioned questionnaire and on published data combined with the expertise of the two consultant companiesan employees structure shown in Table 1 wasdeveloped. The structure and the numbers arevalid for desalination plants with a capacity of 50,000m 3 /d up to 60,000m 3 /d per unit. The same procedure was applied to different unit sizes(6 classes from small, i.e. 1000m 3 /d to large, i.e.>50,000m 3 /d). In a following step the staff which need desalination technology orientated training has been defined. The table indicates that 77 personshave to be trained (about 35% of the total staff of the desalination plant). To determine thefuture demand of personnel needed to be trained   f   = = = operatinghourshoursperyear OHh0876095.OHhh = = 09587608322.· NOHhhhd  = = = 876083224381825 − Totaldeficitd d  = = 182530000547500·,,  h h   J. Gebel, S. Yüce / Desalination 220 (2008) 150–164 153 it was assumed that the distribution of the plantsize for the future plants (in all countries witha large demand) should correspond to the sizedistribution of the existing plants. Combining theforecast model of the future desalination plantdemand with the personnel structure of the respec-tive plant the total demand of personnel could beestimated. The result of this procedure for eachindividual country of the MENA region is shownin Fig. 2. When considering the enormous desalinationcapacity which is installed and planned in SaudiArabia and in the United Arabian Emirates, it isnot surprising that both countries have an exposed state in regard of the staff needed to be trained.As can be seen from Table 2 the estimated demand of personnel to be trained during the next10years adds up to 3500 each (2 ×  25% =  50% of the total of the MENA region). Using a rough approximation of a linear distri- bution of the trainees over the years, when brokendown by year a total number of 1450 personshave to be trained in the MENA region, respec-tively 350 in Saudi Arabia and in the Emirates.These figures represent the forecasted situa-tion at the new plants. However in our opinion themanagers and operators of running plants need continuous upgrading, too. We have estimated that in the MENA region an additional 20,000 persons (Saudi Arabia: 10,000) should go throughan annual or biannual training program to improvetheir knowledge and to train trouble shooting procedures. As illustrated in Fig. 3 the personnel on desali-nation plants can be allocated to 6 groups: (1)Management (2)Administration (3)Operation (4)Maintenance & repair (5)Laboratory/safety (6)Training instructors It is assumed that administration staff do notneed desalination technology orientated training.Thus this group is not relevant for the concernsdiscussed here. The members of the 5 remaining groups havedifferent jobs that also require different training 05101520253035404550   1   9   7  4  1   9   7   6  1   9   7   8  1   9   8   0  1   9   8   2  1   9   8  4  1   9   8   6  1   9   8   8  1   9   9   0  1   9   9   2  1   9   9  4  1   9   9   6  1   9   9   8   2   0   0   0   2   0   0   2   2   0   0  4   2   0   0   6   2   0   0   8   2   0  1   0   2   0  1   2 Year    I  n  s   t  a   l   l  e   d   C  a  p  a  c   i   t  y   (   1   0    6   m    3    /   d   ) ContractedIn operationY   =   10 –65 ×   exp (0.0833   ×   X) Fig. 1. Worldwide operational and contracted desalination plant capacity [1].
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