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Panel Operator Certification



  • Experienced field operators moving to panel operator positions in refining and petrochemical plants.

Course Objectives:

Upon completion of the course, participants will be able to:

  • communicate and work effectively with shift colleagues,
  • explain in detail the processes using various documents (PFDs, P&IDs, control schemes, logic diagrams),
  • identify risks related to equipment operation and process; to enforce adequate preventive actions,
  • adjust the plant process parameters to optimize production rate, product quality and operating costs, minimize losses and releases,
  • analyze the process key parameters to determine disturbance causes, and take appropriate corrective and preventive actions,
  • prepare, start, and shut down a unit in safe conditions.

Target Audience:

  • This course makes possible a rapid mastery of panelist skills. The facilities are optimized and operated in a pro-active way.
  • Successful participants will be granted the “Panel Operator” Certification.

Course Outlines:

Unit 1:

  • WELCOME (if in OLEUM facilities)

      • Welcome,/safety. PPE distribution. Presentation of the training.

      • Panel operator role within the operation team; control room staff. Reporting and handover duties.
      • Plant documentation: inventory, content, usage, role, and duties of the panel operator.

Unit 2:


      • Notions of industrial chemistry. Fluid mechanics: pressure, flowrates, fluid flow, pressure drops.
      • Heat exchange: exchange mechanisms, resistance to heat transfer.
      • Liquid-vapor equilibrium of pure substances and mixtures.
      • Simulators: impact of operating parameters on the chemical reaction performances, heat exchanges through various types of heat exchangers, separation in a flash drum.

Unit 3:


      • Process control:
      • Constitution of a control loop, symbols used. Sensors and transmitters. Control valves.
      • Controllers operating principles, inputs/outputs, internal parameters, and tuning.
      • Complex control loops (cascade, split range, multiple calculation blocks). Advanced control basics.
      • Simulators: Valves characteristic curves. PID parameters tuning. Heat exchanger duty control. Split range configuration. Behavior analysis of complex control loops.
      • Distributed Control System (DCS):
      • Architecture and system components. Man-Machine Interface (MMI). Trends tools. Information flux between site and control room.
      • Automation:
      • Safety instrumented systems: PSS, ESD, HIPPS, EDP; architecture and relationship with DCS. Safety logic and cause & effect matrix.
      • PLCs and automation: graft analysis, the study of specific sequences.
      • Simulators: furnace safety logics.

Unit 4:


      • For each: working principles, technology, ancillary systems, process control scheme monitoring, operation, alarms, safety devices.
      • Pumps, compressors, drivers:
      • Simulators: filters switch, operation of pumps; changes in operating conditions, capacity control of compressors, troubleshooting of a compressor; start-up of a steam turbine driven centrifugal compressor.
      • Thermal equipment: heat exchangers, air coolers, furnaces, boilers:
      • Simulators: fouling of a heat exchanger; changing fuel supplied to burners, coil fouling, start-up and shutdown of a furnace.
      • Specific equipment for a given assignment unit (gas turbines, solid handling, extruders…).

      • Composition and Physico-chemical properties of feeds and products.
      • Commercial product quality requirements, specifications, and standard tests. Mixing rules.
      • Process units: role, principles, main equipment, specific hazards. Influence of the main operating parameters on the operation, consequences on process, and products. Material balance.
      • Distillation, absorption, stripping.
      • Utilities: flare systems, air production, effluent treatment units, steam, water treatments…:
      • Simulators: start-up and shutdown, operation and control of various process units (for instance: two-product distillation columns, multi draw-off distillation column, amine absorption, and regeneration, sulfur recovery unit, hydrotreatment unit).

Unit 5:


      • Panel operator safe behavior:
      • Radio communication, other communication equipment. Teamwork, responsibility sharing. Transmission of know-how.
      • Alertness, forward-thinking plant operation. Alarm management.
      • Application: role plays using the simulators (with panel operator views and FODs).
      • HSE in operation:
      • Product, equipment, and process-related risks; prevention, and protection.
      • Risks related to the operation of equipment, to decommissioning-commissioning and start-up of equipment, specific prevention measures.
      • Routine operations. Permit to work, work order, consignations, and isolations.
      • Special operations: SIMOPS, black start. Emergency operation and crisis management.
      • Impact of plant operation on gas release into the atmosphere and on the wastewater treatment unit; minimization of releases.
      • Integrated plant operation:
      • Steady state runs: routine checks, operating windows, integrated plant behavior (inertia, interferences).
      • Global performances, margin optimization/impact of quality gaps.
      • Identification, analysis and reaction to upsets and equipment failures; stabilization.
      • Simulators: field round on a running process unit; commissioning, start-up and shutdown procedures, justifications of different steps; inhibition management; operations in downgraded situations; practice of emergency operations.

      • Continuous assessment (including practical exercises on simulators).
      • Final test with real-life situation simulation exercises to validate objectives.


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