This is the third in a series of short articles on the blurring of simulation and training (S&T) lines between the naval and commercial maritime communities, and more significant, among other high-risk industries. While S&T community members have noted that some of the hardware and software look familiar among previously presented vignettes and use cases, there have been other points of intersection – for instance, the disparate communities’ common embrace of technologies to allow individuals to learn and rehearse skills more efficiently and effectively in terms of safety, course completion time and other metrics.
There is another major dimension in maritime training – the sector is upending the training for individuals beyond shipboard crews. While digital twins, more capable visual systems and other technology enablers are being introduced into instructional strategies for crewmembers from the bridge into the engineering spaces, individuals in port operations and other activities with ship “touch points” are also increasingly being immersed in learning activities beyond live, hands-on events.
Increasingly Automated but Still Risky Workplace
While much to-do has been made about the commercial shipping industry’s automation activities, the vital on-loading and off-loading of ships, and related port operations events continue to have a human-in-the loop and remain a dangerous activity. Enter simulation to help this industry’s new workforce accessions and veterans alike learn and refresh skills on how to safely and reliably operate new, increasingly complex cranes and other waterfront equipment.
Roger McGroty, Managing Director of Canadian-based Sleipnir Logistics, noted during a recent webinar presented by ST Engineering Antycip and its partner CM Labs, the major safety issue in this industry is the technology involved with new equipment “has almost surpassed peoples’ ability to operate this equipment efficiently and very quickly – we do need a fair amount of practice,” and added, “We do have to prepare individuals to operate this equipment. There are a lot of different pieces of equipment at different ports.” Against that backdrop, the 42-year industry veteran reminded viewers that ports around the world are expected to offload and backload ships with all different types of materiel, from containers, to bulk materiel and others. And whether it be a mobile harbor crane or other piece of equipment, operators are further expected “to do all kinds of things very quickly,” with the biggest challenge being “preparing operators to do this before a ship arrives as they are expected to work a ship. There isn’t any time in the industry anymore to practice operating a piece of equipment while a ship is sitting there.”
Prompted by Devon Van de Kletersteeg, ’ Product Manager for the Port Industry, to further address strategies to meet customer expectations and requirements, McGroty significantly pointed out that while his company has training programs in place, “the only thing that is saving a lot of people and a lot of ports, a lot of ‘headaches’ is simulation.” Indeed, simulation is a foundation of course theory from Day 1, and follow-on modules – all enabled by a full-size simulator at the company’s Mount Pearl (St. John’s), Newfoundland and Labrador facility, and a new mobile simulator at the Burlington (Toronto) site.
MS&T follows and reports on the rapid maturation of digital twins in S&T products and systems in adjacent sectors. For this use case, CM Labs is also using digital twins of real-world equipment in order to replicate authentic machine behavior. And while CM Labs often partners with other companies in order to deliver certain capabilities, the company has developed other proprietary technology, based on Vortex software, for modeling and simulating heavy equipment and delivering other virtual solutions.
Two More Technology Building Blocks
In a closely-related, recent development, 3D perception reported this January the successful completion of the upgrade of the Visual Display System for two marine crane simulators at Netherlands-based Heerema's Simulation Center. The project, aimed at enhancing realism and performance, involved the integration of the latest laser projection technology and 3D perception's proprietary precision auto alignment system, StarScan.
Knut Krogstad, CEO of 3D perception, provided additional context to the visual enhancements of this project. The corporate leaders initially told Halldale Group, the projectors were high-resolution, solid-state laser-phosphor projectors supplied by Barco. More significant, he pointed out, “The installation of the laser projectors resulted in a reduction in the number of projectors and marked a transition from lamp-based to solid-state light source projection. This transition not only reduced maintenance and improved uptime of the system but also made better use of the projected pixels by reducing the number of blended overlaps in the image. The upgrade resulted in more than 30% increase in image resolution and nearly 4 times higher brightness, which is a significant improvement. The brighter, higher fidelity images from the laser projectors provide a sharper-looking scenario with less eye-strain.”
Of additional interest to the broader S&T community, StarScan auto-calibration has been delivered to various high-risk training sectors, including commercial aviation, the military and industrial process control applications for high-uptime screen systems. Krogstad further explained, “In the military sector, the StarScan technology has been used in both naval and flight applications and is ideally suited for retrofit solutions, where the StarScan device can be fitted to enable scanning of screen geometry and projection geometry providing accurate and reliable auto-alignment for direct projected and collimated visual display systems.”
Another instance of technologies migrating across high-risk industry lines is in the motion sector.
Motion Systems, one representative company in this market, is building on and expanding its competencies to enter the maritime sector.
In one instance, this author noted a Motion Systems’ 3-DoF configured training device on the 2023 I/ITSEC exhibition hall floor, complementing one “sweet spot” in the company’s portfolio – ground vehicle training devices.
Beyond this use case, Motion Systems has delivered motion platforms for aviation training, entertainment systems and other purposes. So, it was not unexpected to learn the Poland-based company provided its QS-V20 (4-DoF) platform to Wärtsilä for one of that supplier’s maritime simulators.
Dawid Dobies, Business Development Manager at Motion Systems, offered the capabilities his firm’s motion platform provides maritime and other training enterprises, noting, in part, motion cueing is an essential element in the field of motion simulation, a key element in translating virtual experiences into physical sensations that mimic the dynamics of the real world. “At Motion Systems, we have used this technology to increase the fidelity of simulations, making it essential for training, entertainment and research purposes. This is a very valuable feature for integrators because they can prepare a tailor-made solution.” Further, Motion Systems also works on motion cueing and prepares profiles for vehicles for new games and cars on an ongoing basis. “But in the case of complex projects such as marine or unusual vehicles, we try to help prepare a profile that reflects reality as closely as possible, and train the partner in the principles and possibilities of motion cueing. Motion cueing is one of the many capabilities provided by our Platform Manager software, ForceSeatPM.”
On Halldale Group’s Editorial Radar
The pace of new programs and enhanced efforts in the broad maritime training enterprise continues to increase. Halldale Group will continue to follow and comment on developments in the naval and commercial maritime sectors, through its MS&T and SCT programs, respectively.