The following is an excerpt from an article that was originally published in the Kitsap Sun on May 28, 2018, by Julianne Stanford. Read the full article here.
[Start of Excerpt]
The lifting and handling shop, which operates the industrial cranes that heft materials around the shipyard, recently acquired virtual reality headsets that are now being used to teach trainees on the particulars of safely operating cranes.
Alexander Pittman, a 20-year shipyard employee with the lifting and handling shop, was skeptical at first about the practicality of using the technology to train new hires.
"I'm a licensed crane operator, so I thought to myself, 'Oh this is just going to be a cool video game,' and then I tried it out and it was like 'Wow, it feels like I'm operating a crane,” Pittman said. “That's wild.'"
Dylan DeMers, the lifting and handling training supervisor, said using virtual reality to train the next set of crane operators is a method that is just as good, if not better, than the real thing.
"The system will give you a frighteningly realistic head space for what it feels like to operate a crane," DeMers said. "When you start the engine, it feels like you're starting a diesel engine. When you pick up a heavy load, you feel the resistance."
That realism allows trainees to be put into emergency scenarios.
"So then it's like, 'OK, what do you do crane operator? What's the emergency response?'" Pittman said. "Now we can train crane operators for those emergency scenarios while putting them in an environment that's safe to fail."
It takes more than 4,000 hours, essentially two years of training, to certify a trainee to operate a crane. Each time a trainee goes up into a crane to practice operating one, it takes a minimum of three people to supervise the trainee, which comes at a cost of man hours for the other employees and means there's one less crane to use for maintenance operations.
With the virtual reality headsets, one mentor can supervise four trainees at a time.
Training someone to operate a crane is a lot like teaching someone to drive a car DeMers said. As with any new driver, trainees can be hard on the crane's equipment by jamming on the breaks or hitting the gas harder than they should be.
"They'll inevitably put wear and tear on the machine, which has a whole host of costs associated with it,” he said.
The shipyard has four virtual reality training systems with software to run trainees through the fundamentals of crane operation.
The shipyard is exploring expanding virtual reality training programs for forklift operating and aerial work platform training...
[End of Excerpt]
Read the full article at https://www.kitsapsun.com.