Monday, November 25, 2013

I/ITSEC 2013 Starts Next Week

I/ITSEC, the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference, begins next week in Orlando, Florida. I/ITSEC is the largest modeling and simulation event in the world and promotes cooperation among the Armed Services, Industry, Academia and various government agencies in pursuit of improved training and education programs, identification of common training issues and development of multiservice programs.



I/ITSEC now attracts well over 500 corporations, government and research organizations from the United States and from over 60 countries around the globe. Over 150 research and scientific papers are presented and discussed, making I/ITSEC not only the world’s largest exhibition of modeling and simulation technology, but also the world’s most important annual focal point for advancement of these technologies.

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Construction and Agriculture Equipment Training Simulators

These days if you're in the business of selling construction or agriculture equipment you also need to offer to a line of operator training simulators to compete in today's market. John Deere is one of the largest manufacturers of agriculture, construction, and forestry machinery in the world. Their products include tractors, harvesters, balers, planters, loaders, dozers, excavators, mowers, and diesel engines. But it's not just real-world machinery that sets John Deere apart from their competitors. Their impressive line of training simulators sets them apart as an industry leader when it comes to virtual training for construction and agriculture equipment operator training, and sets the bar higher if you're trying to compete with them.

Construction Equipment Operator Training Simulators
Offering simulators to end-users at affordable prices allows organizations to train operators in a cost-effective, safe, and risk-free virtual environment. Their simulators allow operators to become familiar with equipment controls, learn proper techniques, and gain the necessary level of confidence required to operate the machinery.


Construction Equipment Operator Training Simulators
Simulation-based training reduces fuel and operating costs, eliminates the need for real-world machinery downtime, and minimizes the risks to personnel. Simulators that replicate machine controls, feature budget-based training, and expose operators to real-world situations and jobsite hazards, produce more highly skilled operators. Training simulators allow you to train your operators regardless of the time of day, weather conditions, or any other limitation that reduces the amount of real-world training you can conduct.

If you're competing in the construction and agriculture heavy equipment business and you're not offering a training simulator to your customers, chances are your potential customers are going to go with one of your competitors that do offer training simulators to their clients.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

International Construction and Utility Equipment Exposition Training Simulators

Next week the International Construction and Utility Equipment Exposition (ICUEE) will take place in Louisville, Kentucky. If you work in either the Electric, Phone and Cable, Sewer and Water, Gas, General Construction, Landscaping, or Public Works Construction sectors - this is the place to be. If you're attending the exposition, you'll have the opportunity to demo the latest and greatest equipment, meet with industry experts and learn about recent advances in technology that are affecting your industry. With a focus on hands-on experiences, you'll be able to try out a wide variety of equipment in job-like conditions to see how your organization can benefit from the range of products being demonstrated.

And it's not just real-world equipment that you'll be able to get your hands on, a number of heavy equipment 3D training simulators will be available for attendees to try out as well. My company ForgeFX will be there demonstrating some of our latest heavy equipment virtual training simulators, booth number 1818. So if you're going to be in attendance, stop by, meet our team, and try your hand at operating some of our virtual earth moving training simulators. If you'd like to meet privately with us at the expo to discuss having us build a simulator for you, your best bet is to contact us now and schedule an appointment as our calendar is rapidly filling up.


Electric Rope Shovel Training Simulator
Heavy Equipment Training Simulators
Our training simulators give operators a chance to fully master machine knowledge and controls, understand the full range of machine handling, and develop correct instinctive operation behaviors. All of this is done in a safe virtual environment where mistakes become learning opportunities rather than costly mishaps. Our clients have cited a number of economic advantages that accompany simulation-based training, including a reduction in fuel consumption, less wear-and-tear on real-world machinery, fewer collisions, and lower instances of human error-based mistakes. With more and more heavy equipment manufactures providing virtual training simulators packages with their real-world equipment, can you really afford not to offer a training simulator for all of your products?

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Simulator Training for Weather-Based Events

One of the hardest things to train for are weather-based events since you have no control over the weather. Take for example the training of snow plow operators. In the past you would need snow on the ground in order to train your plow operators, but that's when you want your operators out on the road plowing, not working with a trainer. Virtual training simulators allow you to train for weather-based events year-round, so when the snow begins to fall you've got a fully trained workforce ready to tackle the job.

Virtual Snowplow Training Simulator
Virtual Snowplow Training Simulator
The Minnesota Department of Transportation recently started using snow plow training simulators to train their operators. The training simulator replicates slick roadways, hazardous conditions, poor visibility, hidden obstacles, and even children and animals running across the road. While the operator is training to operate the plow, the software is keeping track of their ability to maintain a consistent speed, keep their distance from obstacles, manage their fuel consumption, and all of the other skills required to safely and effectively operate the plow.

Virtual Snow Plow Training Simulator
In addition to being able to train year-round, the simulator saves the department money by reducing the amount of fuel they would burn during real-world plow training. In addition, training simulators allow real-world equipment to be spared the heavy usage often associated with training, thus reducing maintenance costs and allowing machinery to last longer. Regardless of what weather-based event you are training for, a simulator will reduce your costs and allow your staff to be better prepared when you need them to be.

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Nuclear Power Plant Training Simulators

If you're in the business of training complex system operators you're well aware of the challenges involved. From making sure that your staff is fluent with the controls, to gauging their level of competency, to guaranteeing year-round training opportunities; virtual training simulators provide you with all of these benefits. And if your operators are charged with mission-critical tasks these benefits become a necessity, rather than a nicety. When it comes to mission-critical tasks, nuclear power plant operation is at the top of the list. And how do you train your nuclear power plant operators? With training simulators of course. The African continent may only have one nuclear power plant, the Koeberg nuclear power station in South Africa, but they already have two state-of-the-art training simulators. The simulators replicate the station's main control room as well as the emergency control facility.


Nuclear Power Plant Training Simulator
Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant Training Simulator
Earlier this year the same company that delivered the simulator to Koeberg, L-3 MAPPS, produced a training simulator for the Embalse nuclear power plant in Argentina. The Embalse simulator runs on a standard Windows operating system platform and simulates all of the plants operational systems, including the reactor, steam supply and electrical systems.

In China, at the Sanmen and Haiyang Nuclear Power Plant, the Westinghouse Electric Company recently installed their AP1000 nuclear power plant training simulators, considered the most modern nuclear power plant operator training simulators in the world. Utilizing the real-world plant instrumentation and controls, the simulator delivers a high degree of realism, allowing plant operators to be prepared to take their operator license examination within 18 months of the start of their training.

Whether you're training operators to run a nuclear power plant, a natural gas power plant, or any other complicated system or piece of machinery - virtual training simulators allow for the highest degree of fidelity, without incurring any of the costs, risks and potential hazards associated with real-world training. Obviously nuclear power plants are at the high end of the spectrum when it comes to the risks associated with training, but regardless of your equipment, if you're training new employees or keeping seasoned operators' skills sharp, training simulators allow you to conduct training year-round, under a variety of simulated conditions and without taking real-world equipment out of production.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Dredging Industry Utilizes Virtual Training Simulators

When you think about virtual training simulators you probably picture pilots training to operate an aircraft, but training simulators are becoming more common in just about every industry where training can be costly and risky for mission-critical tasks. If your equipment is costly, the consumables it relies on are expensive, and the work can be dangerous - then there's a good chance a training simulator is right for you. Take for example dredging, probably not the first industry that comes to mind when you think of 3D training simulators, but think again.

Dredge Technology Corporation (DTC) offers virtual dredging training via a Beaver 6518 cutter 3D simulator that allows trainees to practice for scenarios they'll face in the real-world, in a safe controlled virtual environment. Operators are able to train in a variety of simulated conditions, without the need to create potentially hazardous situations, and without incurring any production loss.

Cutter Suction Dredger Simulator Training
Cutter Suction Dredger Simulator Training
Earlier this month the Training Institute for Dredging (TID) organized the India Dredging Experience, enabling visitors to operate their Beaver 6518 simulator, allowing them to experience first-hand the benefits of simulation-based training. TID claims that the simulator helps to improve key performance indicators, leading to higher uptime rates and a decrease in cost per cubic meter. TID also organized the India Dredging Competition, where participants compete against each other, using the simulator to dredge a harbor channel entrance as fast and efficiently as possible.

Earlier this year DTC conducted their first US-based simulator-based dredging training sessions in Clearwater, Florida. The training simulator sessions were attended by Fortune 500 dredging and construction companies including Mosaic and Manson.

Simulator-based training has opened up a new educational application model in dredging, among a number of other industries as well. By including simulation-based training into curriculums, early adopters will see a number of benefits. The improvement of skills and techniques coupled with the cost savings returned by well-trained operators who make fewer mistakes easily outweighs the cost of developing a training simulator. If you're responsible for training people to operate machinery that is expensive, costly to maintain, and has the potential to create hazardous conditions, a training simulator may be just what you're looking for to give your organization the upper hand.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

GlobalSim Inc. Officially Becomes Kongsberg GlobalSim

GlobalSim, the wholly owned simulator subsidiary of Kongsberg Maritime since 2008, is now officially Kongsberg GlobalSim. The name change represents a continued commitment by Kongsberg to provide virtual on-shore and offshore simulation-based training, as part of their core business offering.

Offshore Crane Training Simulator
Kongsberg GlobalSim Offshore Crane Training Simulator
Paal Aamaas, Vice President of Kongsberg Maritime Simulation:
"With Kongsberg GlobalSim now fully entrenched in the corporate structure we can offer even more value by bringing its unique approach to on-shore and offshore crane simulation into the Full Picture. Within simulation, the Full Picture approach ensures that our customers can offer integrated simulation training across navigation, automation and crane operation, providing benefits in safety, efficiency and preparedness for critical missions."
As listed on their web site, Kongsberg GlobalSim's corporate mission is:
"To provide affordable, effective crane simulation training to heavy equipment operations, specifically material handling, vehicle driving and a wide range of military operations. GlobalSim has pioneered the use of accurate physical models, immersive environments, and cost-effective technology to bring this high level of training to our customers."
Training simulators allow operators to practice for difficult, dangerous, and costly machine operations in a safe and cost effective virtual environment. Training simulators save money and reduce the number of accidents and delays.

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Monday, August 26, 2013

"Better Performance and Cost Data Needed to More Fully Assess Simulation-Based Efforts"

Last week the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released their Report to Congressional Committees titled, "Army and Marine Corps Training: Better Performance and Cost Data Needed to More Fully Assess Simulation-Based Efforts". The report is in response to the increased use of computer-based simulators to train service members operating today's modern warfare technology, and is the third report they have produced to assess the services' mix of live and simulation-based training.

GAO examples of current Army and Marine Corps simulators and simulations.

While there's no doubt that simulators provides excellent learning environments that are cost-effective, the GAO recommends that the military services need to develop more strict metrics and methodologies in order to compare simulation-based, and live training, head to head. The report focuses on the efforts that will be required in a fiscally constrained environment in order to meet training requirements. While the assumption is that training simulators are less expensive than live training, the GAO report points out that without properly measured metrics it is impossible to show precisely how much more cost-effective they are.

Department of Defense Comments

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) only partially concurred with the recommendations of the report, agreeing that performance metrics would be useful when assessing the impact of simulation-based training, however they stated in their evaluation of the report that:
"Given the magnitude and scope of training tasks, varying competencies of the training audience, and ever-changing technology, the problem set contains many independent variables."
The DOD said they would study the problem set and develop a plan to include performance metrics to assess the impact of simulation-based training. They also said that they currently capture all of the relevant cost-based metrics required for decision making, however they agreed that having a more comprehensive collection of data would be helpful. The report concludes that without better data, the services lack the information they need to make informed simulation-based training investment decisions.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Energy Sector Turns to Simulation-Based Training

If you work in the energy sector, or follow its trends as an interested outsider, you're aware of the ever-increasing need for operator training and re-training. Increased regulations, the development of new and more complex power plants, and the conversion from coal-fired to gas-fired units all contribute to the ever-increasing need for top-level training of managers, engineers and operators. Simulators are providing the training that's required to meet ever-changing industry standards and increase plant performance.

Energy Innovation Center

Shell Oil has been investing in 3D simulators for years. Their ACE VR Center in Lutong, Malaysia has been allowing them to visualize massive sets of geophysical data in high-fidelity real-time 3D for years. So it should come as no surprise that the University of Wyoming recently opened their $25.4 million Energy Innovation Center this year, with donations by Shell, BP, Peabody Energy, Arch Coal, and Marathon Oil.
Shell Oil ACE VR Center
The center includes the Shell 3D Visualization Laboratory which features a four-walled virtual reality room where researches can study complex and spatially related data sets. The laboratory will allow energy companies to derive maximum value from resources by researching simulated oil, gas and water movements, and their interactions with each other.

Fossil Fuel Power Plant Simulators

GSE Systems provides Fossil Fuel Power Plant Simulators that deliver the high degree of knowledge and skill that is required in today's energy sector. The training simulators improve everything from faster plant start-ups, to fewer outages, to increased profitability.
Chuck Kelly of GSE Systems demonstrates the simulation of a gas-turbine generating station. Credit: Rob Felt
Taking into account a high level of daily plant profit, if a simulator can help a plant avoid any shutdown, it has the potential to pay for itself ten-fold in a single day. In addition to fossil fuel power plant simulators, GSE develops virtual training simulators for nuclear power and petrochemical plants that allow operators to learn by doing, without any real-world risk. GSE's multi-million dollar 3D simulation center at Georgia Tech includes an electric generating power plant for student teams to train in before entering the workforce.

US Department of Energy IGCC Power Plant Simulator

The US Department of Energy recently launched their latest immersive training simulator at the National Energy Technology Laboratory. Simulating an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plant, the simulator leverages stereoscopic 3D that allows students the ability to move around the plant virtually while they train for operation.
Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle Power Plant Simulator
Operators learn the complex chemical process of coal-gasification with carbon dioxide capture, coupled with combined-cycle power generation, a difficult and dangerous process to train for in the real-world, but one that can be conducted safely and affordably using virtual training simulator technology.

Virtual training simulators provide a distinct advantage to people in, or entering, the oil and gas workforce. Simulation-based training allows trainees to study everything from refinery methodology, to control panel operation, to emergency plant shutdown procedures. Students learn to quickly and correctly solve common plant operating problems. Simulators can provide realistic training for an entire refinery team, while removing all of the risks, essential for everyone from supervisor to operator. When you need to develop core competencies, develop practical problem-solving skills, and secure a high-level of rapid technical communication across your entire team, virtual training simulators are clearly the way to go. In an environment where poor communication and performance can lead directly to costly mishaps, training simulators allow students to practice repeatedly for situations they'll likely encounter when the real-world stakes are high.

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Friday, August 02, 2013

Video Games Enhance Surgical Spatial Relations Skills

If you've ever taken the controls of a surgical training simulator, and tried to perform even the most basic procedure on your first attempt, you're aware that it's a little more complicated than that. In addition to an understanding of the controls and tools at your disposal, you also need a high level of hand-eye coordination plus a good feel for the spatial relationships between objects in the virtual environment. The same can be said for many popular video games these days, many of which come with interactive tutorials and detailed instructions manuals. As the similarities between training simulator and video game technology and methodology continue to interweave with each other, it should come as no surprise that there is cross-over when it comes to the skills learned in one discipline being applied to the other.

A study conducted by the Department of Surgical Sciences at Sapienza University in Italy, titled: "Play to Become a Surgeon: Impact of Nintendo WII Training on Laparoscopic Skills", studied the influence of four weeks of structured Nintendo WII by a group of residents in General, Vascular and Endoscopic Surgery. Half the group received WII training, while the other half did not. All of the participants hand-eye coordination and spatial relations skills were measured on laparoscopic simulators over the course of the study. At the conclusion of the study, those given WII training showed significant improvement in 13 of the 16 performance metrics that were analyzed.

Laparoscopic Training Simulator
Laparoscopic Training Simulator
While the study stops short of concluding that institutions include video games in their curriculum, it does advocate for the development of dedicated software aimed at young surgeons. The skills developed while playing video games and operating simulators will provide them with a tremendous advantage in the development of the skills required to master today's surgical procedures. Surgical training simulators provide many benefits to Sales and Marketing departments in addition to the skills that surgeons learn from them. A company that can demonstrate their tool virtually has an advantage over a competitor that can only demonstrate their product during an actual surgical procedure.

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