TechNet-21 - Forum

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  1. Toryalai Hart
  2. Programme management
  3. Friday, 03 June 2011
Auto-combustion incinerators are preheated with biomass (wood, dung, other) for about 30mn, and then rely on the operator to keep temperatures in bounds (600-900 deg C) by knowing when to load what for 3 hrs, and then finish with a 30mn biomass burn-down period. • Biomass is used to get the system preheated to 650+ deg C • Plastics raise the temperature of the system, and are thus "the fuel" [load at 625 deg C when temps are falling] • Non-sharp infectious waste and pathological waste lower the temperature of the system, and are thus "the real waste" [load at 800 deg C when temps are rising] • Biomass is used to burn off remaining waste at the end of operation while keeping operating temps above 600+ deg C Teaching operators to perform in a short 3-day training time window after systems are installed is a challenge. • On day 1, PRIMER: before the incinerator is built, an introduction to operation is conducted using props for the incinerator, a safety box, biomass, non-sharp infectious waste and pathological waste. The instructor plays the temperature gauge calling out readings, a student pretends to be the fire and reacts to what the trainee loads, and the trainee loads waste in response to both the temperature call-outs and the behavior of the fire. • On day 2, TRAINING: the trainer micromanages operation of the Incinerator, explaining continuously how, what, why, when and so on. • On day 3, COACHING: the trainer takes the essential decision criteria for next step in correct operation, and equates them to hand signals. Hand signals are effective in that the operator doesn't have to spend time trying understand what is being said. Concepts are explained once, practiced heavily with repetition on Days 1 and 2, and clearly understood as principles -- and after that, the hand signals serve as prompts to improve upon performance. The set is as follows: And here is a short video clip of using these hand signals (Check Temperature, Pick up waste, Load Waste) to coach WDU auto-combustion incinerator operators in Liberia. [youtube]ZndPZdquxTo[/youtube] I used to coach skydiving and that was my inspiration for the use of hand signals for real time auto-combustion incinerator coaching. Here's a subset of hand signals used at Elsinore Drop Zone in California -- but each school has their own variants.
Toryalai Hart Accepted Answer
Great question Rudi! A good operator is taking some sort of action every 30-60 seconds for 4 hours to smokelessly destroy 20 to 30kg of waste. It's an extremely demanding task which requires intense focus -- so less time talking and more time doing. A focused operator will consume less biomass and pollute less when burning waste. Here's how it integrates: Training on Day 1 verbally introduces operating techniques and has them played out as drills. Allows for higher speed operation than the real thing, and thus more mistakes can be made and learned from. It also allows the instructor to demonstrate and test operators methodically for both classic operating scenarios and unusual ones. Instruction Day 2 is verbally guided and practical. The muscle memory and basic concept from Day 1 get put to work under the pressure of keeping the incinerator running cleanly. Operators are highly alert and absorbing lots of information about the details of each operation, and the reasons for doing what when. The instructor is essentially running the incinerator though their hands initially, and then as operators master the basic patterns, verbal guidance shifts to problem solving. Coaching on Day 3 is signal assisted and practical. Hand signals are introduced as part of the review of the previous day. The incinerator is started up, but this time, no operating instructions are given verbally -- only with hand signals. Operators quickly pick up the pace and build confidence. Here are some benefits to using hand signals for the final day: • Discretize the operations and provide an easy to remember intuitive standard terminology. One hand signal for 2-10 words. • Puts instruction on it's own channel so it doesn't get droned out by other ambient conversations in between trainees and observers. • Operators need to be able to ignore distraction and stay focused on the task, even while people are talking to them. • Facilitates a transition from verbal to visual cues, since ultimately operators will be watching the system • Operators can listen to the fire -- a bit like listening to an engine when driving instead of watching the RPM gauge on a car. • Provides a medium in which the operator is still being guided, but not as strongly as with words. Operator is in control, hand signals prompt him for action when missed. • Gives the instructor a chance to observe and evaluate performance on day 3. If after the first couple of hours, operators need almost no prompting, they can be certified. • Can be easily picked up by in-country instructors, and stands less of a chance of deteriorating over time than verbal instructions. • Bypasses language barriers. Operators are typically not literate and are often unaccustomed to hearing/interpreting western English/French. Reaction time is critical to keeping the incinerator operating in bounds. • Operators are already struggling to read the analog temperature gauge (digital is worse), decide whether it's going up or down, and preparing to take the next step. Hand signals are less interruptive to their thought process than words. • Allows other trainees to demonstrate their operating knowledge with instructional hand signals while the system is running, even if they aren't manning the incinerator. The alternative of 5-10 people telling the operator what to do next makes for unintelligible chaos. • Avoids use of negatives (No, don't, not, stop etc) or critique when teaching on the final day of training, leaving the operator with a feeling of success, pride and competence after the training. • Keeps the mood light and fun, which in turn imprints trainees with a positive association of the experience with the task that they need to perform. • Instructor can multitask - coach operators with hands and have discussions with health workers at the same time. • Is extremely effective in rapidly getting operators up the learning curve and performing professionally.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Programme management
  3. # 1
Rudi Eggers Accepted Answer
Tory - interesting concept. But I'm not sure why one would need hand signals, if verbal communication is possible. Why not just say "Check temperature!" instead of giving a hand signal. I can see the benefit in a very noisy environment (such as a plane for skydiving) or a very silent environment where you would want to remain undetected (such as military hand signals during patrols). Can you clarify?
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Programme management
  3. # 2

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