Internet of things and operator training simulators


Remote monitoring and control of technological processes imposes specific requirements to training of operators-technologists who will be carried out those processes. A key role in this training must play the operator training simulators, which maximally employ the advantages of the "Internet of Things" technology.

Internet of Things (IoT) is modern and rapidly developing technology. IoT is one of the essential sources of “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another [1]. According to the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG), IoT is simply the point in time when more “things or objects” were connected to the Internet than people. Thus, Cisco IBSG estimates that IoT was “bom” sometime between 2008 and 2009 [2].

Almost every day appeared one more new application of Internet of Things technology. In work [3] considered 15 most known examples of Internet of Things technology that are in use today. The stringiest among those examples (on our opinion) is “Kolibrее Smart Tooothbrush”. Kolibree connects to your smartphone and encourages good brushing habits for both kids and adults by turning brushing into a game and saving data on your phone about your brushing habits [4]. The most relevant to this paper is the project “Cisco's Connected Factory”[5]. As one of the leaders in IT field the Cisco is integrating IoT technologies into different spheres of industry to make technological and production processes more efficient.

Cisco provides the breadth of plant infrastructure capabilities across networking, wireless, security, physical video, computing, and communications. In this way, the solution can flexibly support the current and future business needs of manufacturers. It meets the requirements of both business IT and operational technology in a highly secure, reliable, and integrated platform [5].

Remote monitoring and control of technological processes imposes specific requirements to training of operators-technologists who will be carried out those processes. A key role in this training must play the operator training simulators (OTS), which maximally employ the advantages of the "Internet of Things" technology.

Most of training simulators have nothing to do with IoT technology. They aimed mostly on training of operators but not on improving of control system. The following examples of training simulators illustrate that state of things.

Authors of work [6] have developed an operator’s training simulator for the blast furnace plant to improve operator’s operation skill. The simulator consists of a workstation with a process model, human machine interface, and plant control system. Authors approve that they have achieved such an environment as the operator can operate through human machine interface as if the operator is operating an actual plant and system is controlling the same software that controls the actual plant.

The “Virtual Training Systent Technological process simulator” is one of the Ablroy company products [7]. The main component of the dynamic computer simulator («Virtual Training System») is so called «virtual technological process». The virtual technological process is intended to simulate operations of the real life production facility (process unit). The Virtual Training System is used mainly to train the operational personnel, and it is also used to analyze and to improve the technological process, to design and to verify the control system, to practice skills related to Emergency Response Plans (ERP). A simulator may generate process upsets to enable training for non routine situations. Process failures or non routine situations which occurred at the plant in the past may be simulated at a simulator in order to practice skills and to transfer knowledge related to safe methods of work [7].

Richmond [8] declared that integrating of Operator Training Simulators (OTS) into corporate training programs, applying virtualization, and using 3-D virtual reality are but three examples of how operator training simulators have been adapted to meet the demands of the modern workforce. He expects these synergistic approaches and other emerging technologies (e.g., mobile computing, remote operations, workflow technology, and situational awareness graphics) to result in continued advances in the world of operator training simulation, contributing to a new generation of safe, productive, and profitable plant operation [8].

Lukec [9] formulated the following requirements for OTS:

1 .Describing the dynamics of the process/unit,

2.Simulating normal operation,

3.Describes steady state,

4. Simulating start-up and shutdown,

Stimulating incidents,

  1. .Ease of usage,
  2. .Simulating external disturbances (raw material qualities, utilities.)
  3. .Using realistic unit process graphics,
  4. .Using realistic unit control and safety system.
  5. Robust process model: capable calculating exact solution in any situation.

Thus we can see the importance of IoT and OTS for sustainable development of modern and future industry. So applying of IoT and OTS simultaneously could lead to synergetic effect.

The basis of the OTS is a software implemented mathematical models of the control object and the control system (control program). Interaction of these models in different normal and emergency situations is studied and evaluated simultaneously on the same working station. This approach has certain disadvantages:

  1. Communication channels between the object of control and the automatic control system are simulated by computer with different simplifying assumptions. This disadvantage could be essential in the case of remote monitoring and control via mobile Internet or Wi-Fi.
  2. After the simulation studies we don't get tested and configured control computer with adjusted control program. Control program for control computer need to be developed additionally based on result of simulation and taking into account physical parameters of input-output devices. It leads to the loose of time and money. Especially in case of remote monitoring and control.

For overcoming these disadvantages we propose to use two different computing devices (computers, laptops or tablets). On the first computing device there will be running a simulation model of the control object that will handle incoming by radio channels (mobile Internet, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth) control signals and will transmit by the same channels the signals that containing information about technological parameters of simulated control object. On the second computing device there will be loaded the real control program without any simulation. Thus, that second computing device will be operating in real mode handling signals about technological parameters of the control object (that could be either real or simulated) and producing corresponding control signals. Thus, we propose to simulate only the control object (on first computing device) and to use the real (not simulated) control program loaded on control computing device.

This will be useful for improving of control system in the process of simulating and for creating remote computing device with real control program for more efficient operator training.



  1. K. Schwab. The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond. how-to-respond 14 Januaiyr 2016.
  2. D. Evans. The Internet of Things How the Next Evolution of the Internet Is Changing Everytliing. ua/assets/pdf/iot-ibsg-041 IfinaLpdf April 2011’
  3. 15 Examples of Internet of Tilings Technology’ in Use Today, intemet-of-things-technologv/ Last Updated: September 26, 2016.
  4. Kolibree Smart Toothbrush with Games. Sonic toothbrush Educates Kids with Live Feedback and Interactive App Application/dp/BOOXJOPSOG
  5. Cisco Coimected Factory.
  6. T. Izulia. T. Sato, H. Gomi, Ya. Sono, T. Hida. K. Wasliizu. Operator’s Training Simulator for Blast Fmnace Plant // Nippon Steel Technical Report No. 89, 2004. pp. 85-90.
  7. Virtual Training System. Technological process simulator. technological-process-simulator.html
  8. P. Richmond. Operator training simulators in the modern plant, publications/isa-publications/intech-magazine/2014/february/process-auto mation-operator- training-simulators-modern-plant/ JanuaryZFebruary 2014.
  9. Lukec. Importance of process simulation in education. in-education 16.11.2015.
Year: 2016