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Looking for the ‘easy’ button? A simulator maintenance agreement could be the answer.

by | Sep 27, 2018 | Simulation & Training

‘The time to act is now.’ It’s not just a life quote for reaching your personal goals, it can help you reach your job goals and, in turn, help your plant reach its goals.

Plant specific simulators are the largest non-power producing asset at the plant. The value of a custom simulator is that it represents “your” plant. Instructors have confidence in what they are presenting to operators, and operators believe they are running “their” plant. To keep your simulator and plant in sync requires effort, and often taxes an already busy staff.  A little pre-planning can make everyone’s life easier. That’s where a simulator maintenance agreement shines. Such agreements, when in place ahead of time, provide for a smooth transition to the latest software upgrades or updates to reflect the latest plant changes.

Simulator Software Upgrades

The digital landscape is ever changing with new operating systems, and concerns over cyber and intellectual property protection. Even if you don’t update plant models, you may need patches and upgrades to stay protected. If your simulator vendor is employing good developers and a solid R&D strategy, you should expect the software to get new and improved features. In the last few years, GSE has added increased development support into our R&D process. Adhering to the Agile Software Development process, we are committed to continually improving our software with regular releases.

Upgrading your simulator software provides:

  • New capabilities to help you do your job more efficiently
  • Peace of mind that your software will work well with other commonly used software, operating systems, and browsers

There are clear benefits to keeping up-to-date with the latest simulation software, but there have been traditional downfalls as well. A standalone simulator software upgrade requires time for testing and your team is already swamped with responsibilities. Instead of putting off the upgrade—and the benefits—use your service level agreement hours to ensure a timely and successful transition.

Service Level Agreement

Beyond the software updates and upgrades, maintenance plans include a number of support hours to meet the customer’s needs. Effective and efficient communication between GSE and the customer is achieved through our online support portal.

Part of this service level agreement is the guarantee of 24-hour emergency VPN support. In a recent case with one of our Midwest utility customers, a piece of hardware failed during a critical training. GSE’s engineers were able to respond with a back-up of the as-delivered simulator and bring the training group back online.

Why should your THERMAL POWER PLANT be on a software maintenance agreement?

Does this sound familiar? The story goes like this – we purchased a simulator for training when our unit was built. Years later our simulator is out of step with the plant design and the software hasn’t been upgraded. The outdated models lead to less-effective training, so the simulator is no longer used to its fullest extent.

Beyond delivering a world-class simulator, we want our customers to truly reap all of its benefits. That’s why we’ve developed our simulator maintenance programs to enable higher quality training which equates to better operators, improved plant performance, and enhanced safety.

As part of the agreement, we’ll not only install and test the latest software version, but you’ll also be able to use the included support hours to keep your simulator in-step with the plant changes. An up-to-date simulator avoids negative training and provides the ability to verify and validate (V&V) plant changes, such as a new DCS, prior to commissioning.

Why should your NUCLEAR POWER PLANT be on a software maintenance agreement?

As required by the NRC and other regulatory bodies, your plant reference simulator is up-to-date with plant changes, but you might not be using the latest software from the vendor. Perhaps you fear that updating the software requires extensive testing and validation that you just don’t have the time to deal with, you’re worried that an update might negatively impact your load, and it’s just too difficult to put money into the budget when an upgrade rolls around.

By having a simulator maintenance agreement in place, you’re entitled to the latest upgrades as they become available without an additional PO to cut. Included installation and testing services take the burden off of your team while providing you with the latest product enhancements and bug fixes.

We spend a lot of time developing our software releases to make your job easier. Let us bring our services full circle by providing end-to-end services for our releases as part of your maintenance agreement.

Conclusion

Simulators are a major investment in your plant and in your people. Make the most of your investment by keeping it up-to-date with the latest upgrades and enhancements. It’s easy to keep the status quo, but the status quo does not improve efficiency.

With a GSE simulator maintenance agreement, we take ownership of maintaining and testing the latest simulator upgrades at your plant. As an additional bonus, our maintenance customers receive 10% off training services. Agreements can be tailored to your plant’s specific needs.

Contact us today to learn more.

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