It has been an exciting month for Tarong power stations, with the completion of a major milestone in the journey to centralised operations.
Over the past four years our Tarong engineering and operations teams have put in a significant amount of work to enable the control of the Tarong North supercritical unit and associated station plant from the Tarong control room, approximately one kilometre away. The remaining four sub-critical units and station plant were already operated from the Tarong control room, which was consolidated during a previous control system upgrade.
Since 2016 there has been a huge combined effort from the engineering and operations teams to understand what would be required to operate Tarong North from Tarong’s control room. This started with identifying the risks involved and ensuring all aspects of personal safety, process safety and plant reliability were considered. Then the necessary hardware and controls were installed over the next few years to make the centralised operations a reality.
Prior to the completion of this project, two Operators were based in the Tarong North control room each shift. Together these two people would look after all operational requirements and had minimal interaction with the rest of the team over at the Tarong control room.
Tarong Operations Manager, Liz Beavis said that while it had been a long process to make sure all the hardware changes and procedures were implemented, the project has resulted in substantial learning and development opportunities for the team.
“By removing the geographical barrier, we’ve opened up opportunities for our operators to progress and grow,” she said.
“It’s now easier for our people to collaborate to generate ideas and to come up with solutions for issues on any of our five units at Tarong. With the team now all together, it also allows for cross-skilling and succession planning.”
With all the Operators based within the one control room, they’re able to continue upskilling and sharing their knowledge across both types of units and the related station plant.
“Of course there were hurdles along the way, but by working together and integrating the control rooms, we’ve now begun to create flexibility within the operations team. This will significantly improve our working environment,” Liz said.
While the Tarong North Operators are now based in the Tarong control room, they still head over to Tarong North for regular rounds to check plant and undertake isolations each shift.
Well done to everyone who was involved in the delivery of the centralised operations project. According to Liz’s research – it’s a world-first! Projects like this showcase our people’s enthusiasm towards continuous learning and ensures our power stations remain competitive, flexible and innovative in the energy market of the future.