In order to figure out the main issues power plant operators are facing every day, an interview was conducted with Floor Operator, Dave Hardy, and Safety and Health Coordinator, Paul Perez, both working at the power plant Tri-State Craig Station, Colorado, USA.

Power plants are not designed to ease the work of operators

Many power plants were built at a time where ergonomics and operator safety and efficiency were not the main concern. This is why many valves are labour intensive and people are getting hurt.

As Mr Hardy says, the people that installed the valves in the power plant he is working at had no idea what operators would have to go through to operate them. 

“Valves in the facility are too big, too cumbersome for a human being, and as the plant got older, they got harder. Furthermore, the valves are not installed ergonomically. Some are on the floor, and you would work on your knees. Some valves are upside down, and you would have to close them from a difficult position. Some of them are overhead, with terrible accessibility,” Mr Hardy said.

Time consuming and resource-heavy operations

 Each time there is an operation, Mr Hardy and his team have to open and close at least eight valves which are not of the same size or in the same place. Furthermore, each valve has about 72 revolutions, which makes a total of about 600 revolutions for opening and the same for closing. 1200 revolutions for a single operation is time consuming for any workforce.

In addition, the aging equipment and dust inside the plant is a major problem, making each valve turn more difficult.

How to solve ergonomic and efficiency problems 

The valves that Mr Hardy’s team was operating were extremely labour intensive, often resulting in injuries. As a result, Mr Hardy and Mr Perez searched for a solution. 

Mr Hardy, Mr Perez and their safety test team decided that handheld valve operators were the best solution. The valve assist technology increased their efficiency, allowing the team to turn more valves with less people. Operators no longer needed to strain to reach and turn valves. This effectively lowered the risk of potential injuries.

“With a handheld valve operator, it became a two (or even one) person job; it was so easy, so efficient! No more back injuries, sore back or extreme tiredness,” Mr Hardy said.

After intense discussions, Mr Hardy and Mr Perez chose Find out why Dave and Paul chose modec handheld valve operators. This modellprovides:

  • A safety reaction system that protects the operator
  • The widest range of power supplies for actuators
  • Adjustable speed and torque settings on the actuators
  • The widest range of hand wheel adapters that fit all valve types

This partner content is brought to you by Field Machine Tools (FMT). For more information, call 1300 FMT FMT (368 368) or visit

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