Challenges and training needs in NPP automation maintenance

Iina Aaltonen, Timo Kuula, Mikael Wahlström, Maiju Aikala, Jari Laarni

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference article in proceedingsScientificpeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    Two Finnish nuclear power plants are undergoing renewals of automation. One plant has already completed the turbine side digitalization in the early 2000s, and the reactor side is expected to be updated, but not fully digitalized. In the other plant, I&C upgrade is ongoing, but the details are still open. Automation modernization affects the work of maintenance personnel, and is expected to produce new training needs. Automation maintenance personnel at both plants were interviewed about their education, work tasks and tools, as well as training practices at the plants, on-the-job-learning and the challenges of I&C modernization. Besides the introduction of programmable logic and the turbine side digitalization, the basic automation has not changed much. The automation mechanics familiar with the digital automation estimated that the digital system is more informative than the analog. Failures in the digital system, however, can be more difficult to identify. The mechanics expected the use of computers and smart calibrators to play a large role in the future. The training needs described by the interviewees are categorized into four themes: 1) language skills, 2) analog vs. digital systems, 3) use of computers and new technology, 4) retirement of personnel. Two additional categories were recognized: emerging collaboration and multi-skilled workers. Interestingly, knowledge on analog automation may pose a greater challenge than of digital, because analog automation is no longer taught in engineering studies, and the automation modernization does not necessarily lead to completely digital I&C systems. This paper describes the current training needs, practices and expectations of automation maintenance personnel. These results will be discussed from the perspective of future training needs and challenges.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings, vol. 1
    PublisherAmerican Nuclear Society (ANS)
    Number of pages11
    ISBN (Print)978-15108-0809-6
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
    MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
    Event9th International Topical Meeting on Nuclear Plant Instrumentation, Control, and Human-Machine Interface Technologies, NPIC & HMIT  - Charlotte, United States
    Duration: 22 Feb 201526 Feb 2015


    Conference9th International Topical Meeting on Nuclear Plant Instrumentation, Control, and Human-Machine Interface Technologies, NPIC & HMIT 
    Abbreviated titleNPIC & HMIT
    Country/TerritoryUnited States


    • NPP
    • automation maintenance
    • learning
    • training
    • tools


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