MacGregor, part of Cargotec, has recently opened a new facility in Arendal, Norway, which houses a training academy for customers. It specialises in advanced simulation training and has a purpose-built virtual reality (VR) showroom.
The academy provides a risk-free environment where the users learn how to make real-time, complex manoeuvres safer and more efficient. It also showcases simulations of MacGregor products in action and demonstrates technical challenges.
"Virtual reality technology has improved dramatically in recent years," says Geir Roland, Director Advanced Offshore Solutions, Global Lifecycle Support at MacGregor. "We can pass these advances on to our customers at our new facility and through portable training programmes".
"The simulation/training software we use has been developed by our experts and is based on their expertise and experience in the field. We believe this is unique on the market," he notes.
VR training is particularly good for customers who have MacGregor equipment on board their vessels. "Customers can offer their crew fully-immersive training programmes, which are so much better than previous offerings," says Jan Finckenhagen, Training Manager, Advanced Offshore Solutions. "This will reduce the likelihood of causing injury to personnel or damage to equipment because they have already tried and tested it. Our aim is to help customers use their equipment safely and efficiently."
The VR showroom is divided into two zones comprising an authentic operating chair for offshore crane simulations and a zone where participants can walk around the simulated ship familiarising themselves with the safe operation of the equipment.
VR headsets offer extremely realistic 3D visualisation, allowing users to view very small details of an operation, as well as the wider picture. They are linked to large, wall-mounted screens to display exactly what the user sees. This is very useful for the instructor monitoring and guiding the training sessions and improves the effectiveness of the training process.
"When you wear VR headsets linked to a computer running MacGregor's VR software, it is just like being on a vessel or offshore installation. As you move around and turn your head you see exactly the same things that you would see if you were on board. It is a very convincing experience," explains Mr Finckenhagen.
"You can also explore restricted, dangerous areas that you would not normally be allowed to enter. This provides otherwise unobtainable perspectives on specific operations, which can prove very useful in the real world."
When customers approach MacGregor early in the design phase of their projects, simulation services can be really beneficial. They can explore and test a product's capabilities before it is a reality.
All simulation training for MacGregor offshore cranes, offshore mooring and loading systems, as well as deck machinery and steering gear is now located in Arendal. MacGregor expects to train between 70 and 100 people at its new academy every year.
Virtual reality technology enables a user to identify small aspects of an operation, for example a bow loading system, which can have a big impact on safety and efficiency