Why Simulators?

Archomai believe that simulators are an underused training tool, frequently viewed as an unnecessary cost or just a video game. In some cases and installations, these critics may have a point as we have seen vanity installations where the simulators are rarely used, installations where the simulator was never an integrated part of the training courses, etc.

However, let’s look at a few of the real benefits of using simulators:

  • Reduced training cost.
    • How much does it cost to use a 30 tonne truck to practice reversing a trailer into a warehouse bay? Leaving aside the cost of taking a usable truck, trailer and bay out of service, that will typically cost a gallon of fuel per movement. How many times do you need to repeat this to get it right first time, every time? How many gallons was that?
    • A South East Asian port was taking six months to train port crane drivers from scratch to reliably hitting performance criteria. After installing simulators, the training time was reduced to three months.
    • How much does it cost to take equipment out of commercial service to train people? Could those trucks be earning money? Could we unload another ship if the crane wasn’t being used for training.
    • Welding is a critical skill for many industries. Welding rods are becoming more and more expensive. If a simulator was used by students, especially in the early days, to practice the techniques that’s a significant saving. Added to which, the trainer can play back where the student got it wrong, so (s)he does not have to be with every student at the same time.
  • Reduced accidents.
    • A major US trucking company with thousands of trucks on the road, started training their drivers on economic driving techniques. In the following months, the drivers had 50% fewer accidents than previously. That led to significantly reduced insurance costs, better customer service – and more simulators, as the financial case for them had been proven.
    • In the UK, a major supermarket (or their leasing company) spends in excess of £1M per annum repairing trailers that are damaged reversing into warehouse bays. I wonder how much that could be reduced if the drivers were to train on simulators regularly?
  • Health & Safety
    • Airline pilots spend a significant amount of time on simulators experiencing accident situations: engine failure on take off, ditching in water, etc. As a result, when something goes wrong, aircraft frequently get down relatively safely. When we were installing some vehicle simulators recently, the head driving instructor for the company, with 25 years experience driving heavy goods vehicles, experienced a front wheel blow out for the first time – and crashed. In stressful situations, we all tend to revert to automatic responses. If we have not practiced our responses, we will frequently get the response wrong. How do you practice front wheel blow outs safely on a real truck?
    • The North Sea frequently experiences severe weather in terms of wind and wave action. As the hundreds of wind turbines are erected (and later need to be maintained), there is a need to lift heavy and/or awkward pieces of the turbine. Whilst a lot of this will be done during calm weather, some will be done in less than perfect conditions. Is it sensible to have your first experience of difficult conditions while trying to lift a 90 tonne gearbox in to place – or might it be sensible to practice different conditions on a simulator first? What is the real cost of an accident?
    • If you are training someone on a mobile crane, it is normal for the trainee to have a couple of weeks classroom training, and then start to use a real crane to learn. We run sessions on mobile crane simulators; we know how many people do not have the soft, gentle hands that are needed to operate a crane properly, especially those who are good at video games! As mobile cranes are single seat these days, I would not want to be the trainer hanging on to the cab the first time someone gets their hands on the controls.

Archomai can see that in many parts of the world where new (to the region) industries are being created, the use of simulator assisted training could be a way to rapidly train and cross train the work forces, reducing the cost of employment for the incoming businesses and increasing the economic benefit to the region concerned (increased local employment). Examples would be the Humber (Offshore wind and tidal); Chennai (offshore wind, oil and gas); Brazil (offshore oil and gas); etc.

We have put together a leaflet on the applicability of simulators to offshore wind, and if you would like more information, speak to us!

 

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