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HSE: Serious Games For Team-Based Lifting Operations

Using role playing training, even elements like wind, changing sea-states and shifting loads can be factored in and crews can learn to work through these challenges.

Drilling Contractor has posted a most interesting article on the use of Serious Games and Simulations for the challenges of non-routine engineered lifts.

According to Arnold Free, CMLabs Simulations, over the past 10 years, most fatal work accidents on offshore oil & gas structures have involved the use of lifting equipment.

The central causal factors are human error. In particular, the common factors are related to poor work planning and supervision. Mistakes are made during operations because workers are not always properly prepared for real work conditions.

This safety message is not new, and offshore industry groups such as API, NORSOK, OMHEC and the UK’s HSE have been working toward building training standards that define requirements for the entire lift team.

“But are the training organizations applying these new standards? Are they training the entire lift team to work together? Are they training not only for routine operations but also for difficult conditions and for the challenges of non-routine engineered lifts?”, Arnold Free challenges back.

His answer is no.

“In some cases, these skills can only be learned on the job. Teamwork is not built in a classroom; it is built through experience, challenges and adversity. But how do you train the team in collaborative planning and operations when access to operations equipment is nearly impossible? Moreover, it is too dangerous to use operations equipment to practice for emergency situations and non-routine or engineered lifts.”

Free also refers to a recent article in Chief Learning Officer magazine that drew important conclusions from studying industry surveys related to simulation-based training.

One significant finding was that simulation-based training was seen to have a positive effect and was recommended for ongoing or expanded use in every case. In equipment maintenance, for example, it was found that trainees achieved the same level of proficiency in nearly 60% less time. In truck driving, one hour in a simulator was found to be equivalent to four hours on the road, and operators used less fuel.

 The multi-role interactive simulation is performed in a classroom setting with simulator stations for the operator, signalman (banksman), slinger and instructor. The team must work together to perform lift operations.
Highly Skilled Workers Turn Over
Arnold Free emphasizes that the Net Generation requires more diverse and more engaging learning methods. Classroom learning will have its place, but this needs to be combined with multiple instructional approaches – learning games (aka, Serious Games), interactive simulations, on-the-job and conventional learning by making mistakes.
Due to retirement, the offshore industry will lose significant numbers of highly skilled workers over the next decade. “It is a mistake to expect these students to effectively learn in a traditional classroom setting and/or using conventional e-learning tools”, he says.
PNI Training Centre in Stavanger, Norway, and CMLabs Simulations in Montreal, Canada, are taking steps to address the future training needs of the offshore industry by developing team-based learning using interactive simulation technology.
Using simulators to train drilling and crane operators is not new. The unique aspect is they’re training the entire lift operations team (crane operator, slinger, signalman/banksman) in an immersive role-play environment by combining operator simulators with serious-games learning techniques.
The first systems were installed by CMLabs and its partner Antycip Simulation in June 2010 at PNI’s campus in Stavanger. PNI will begin delivering team-based simulation training classes by September 2010.
Traditional simulation-based lift training addresses only skills development for the crane operator. With team-based simulation training, the operator, slinger and signalman (banksman) must all work together in a simulated offshore environment.
During the operation, the instructor observes the team’s performance. He can create fault conditions and monitor and log incidents. The simulated environment provides both typical faults, such as damaged lifting gear, out-of-date inspection certificates or crane faults, and the team must spot these problems.
More challenging situations can be created, such as high winds and changing sea-states, sling breaks, shifting loads and even crane system failures. The instructor monitors how the lift crew works through these challenges. The simulation logs all incidents during the training operations, and these can be reviewed by the team once the job is complete. This provides an effective, consistent and objective evaluation of team performance. It also provides an effective learning tool.
This interactive learning framework provides a new approach to developing skills and experience. It combines role-play with skills training and practice on a virtual work site. It involves applying theory and learning by doing, and it is physiologically engaging – all needed for training crews today and the younger generation tomorrow.
With this kind of training, organizations can more objectively measure student performance and train more students in classroom settings. It lowers training costs and provides the next-best thing to performing the actual work on the job. It also allows organizations to train teams on how to spot hazards or react instinctively to unexpected failures.
Simulation-based training will play an important role in preparing operators and support personnel for the work challenges ahead. The technology is rapidly being adopted by offshore, port, construction, mining and other industries. Simulation has been proven to speed skills development, improve learning retention and create safer operations teams. By combining simulators, interactive instructional content and team-based learning, we create physiologically engaging environments where students are immersed in the work.
About Arnold Free
This article is based on a presentation at the IADC Lifting & Mechanical Handling Conference & Exhibition, 13-14 July 2010, Houston. Arnold Free, vice president of CMLabs Simulations, has more than 20 years of experience in building simulation and engineering software solutions. He holds a Ph.D. in engineering from Cambridge University, UK.