Crane simulators on the way

COMPUTER simulators are most often used to let people drive rally cars, fly aircraft or space ships.But at Felixstowe, portworkers are to be put into a simulator of a very different kind – as part of an innovative way to improve safety on the quaysides and improve productivity.

COMPUTER simulators are most often used to let people drive rally cars, fly aircraft or space ships.

But at Felixstowe, portworkers are to be put into a simulator of a very different kind – as part of an innovative way to improve safety on the quaysides and improve productivity.

The port is introducing a new crane simulator, which will allow crane drivers to learn ways to enhance their skills and for new operators to be trained in a safe environment before they are let loose on the giant quayside cranes.

Sitting in a replica crane operator's chair and focused upon a 3D visual world, with audible cues from a surround-sound system, trainees can be tested in a virtual operating environment – as if they were loading and unloading a ship.


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The benefit is they can be safe in the knowledge that expensive equipment will not be damaged if mistakes are made.

Potentially dangerous situations and "crane operator competence under pressure" can also be simulated and assessed in a safe manner, using an array of simulated equipment malfunctions and difficult weather conditions.

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Paul Davey, corporate affairs manager of Hutchison Ports (UK) Limited, said: "We are committed to providing the best facilities available in the training of our employees, and fully recognise the importance of a highly-skilled and competent workforce to the continued success of our business.

"Through this venture, we will be able to ensure that trainees possess the requisite skills and professionalism to cope with the rigorous demands of today's busy port environment, before they even set foot in any of our equipment."

The port is working in partnership on the project with Drilling Systems (UK) Limited of Bournemouth, experts in training simulation and who have done much work with the oil and gas and crane industries.

The port is providing operational expertise and data regarding its cranes, terminal tractors/trailers and vessels, as well as environmental data, to enable accurate modelling of the workplace to be done.

The data will then be utilised to produce the software and hardware for the simulator, which will comprise an operator's chair, graphics projection system and instructor's station.

Digital computing techniques will create a true-to-life simulation experience for all the different types of quayside cranes as well as the rubber-tyred gantry cranes in the storage parks.

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