Tuesday, July 30, 2013

ForgeFX Simulators at SIGGRAPH 2013

ForgeFX would like to thank everyone who stopped by our booth last week at SIGGRAPH in Anaheim, The 40th International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques. If you study, create, or use computer graphics and interactive techniques, SIGGRAPH is the conference for you. ForgeFX was honored to be one of the exhibitors this year, offering a sneak peak at their latest 3D training simulator products, along with some cutting/bleeding edge hardware solutions.

ForgeFX Training Simulators
ForgeFX Training Simulator Station at SIGGRAPH
ForgeFX had both platform and desktop simulator stations available for conference attendees to try out. While few of the attendees had much experience operating the types of heavy equipment the simulators train operators for, they were able to jump onto the simulator and give it a shot, without worrying about potentially damaging a multi-million dollar piece of machinery. In most cases, people were able to quickly master the basic controls of the machinery at a high enough level to begin learning the more complicated process of using the equipment.

Training Simulator with Virtual Reality Head-Mounted Display
ForgeFX Training Simulators Utilizing Virtual Reality Head-Mounted Display

Most of our simulators run on traditional flat screens, though we are always experimenting with new hardware technology solutions. While not quite ready for prime time, ForgeFX demonstrated a prototype of a training simulator using a virtual reality head-mounted display systems. With more and more demand for movement and gesture controlled virtual reality, ForgeFX is constantly examining options as they become available and demonstrating their results.

ForgeFX Simulators at SIGGRAPH
Thanks from all of us at ForgeFX.
Thanks again to everyone who stopped by our booth and took the time to try out our simulators. We always love to see people using the products we develop, getting their feedback, and coming up with new ways to leverage simulator technology. If you didn't get a chance to visit us at SIGGRAPH this year please don't hesitate to contact us to discuss simulator development.

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World's Largest Crane Training Simulator

The largest crane training simulator in the world has just been installed in the Moroccan port city of Casablanca. Installed by Kongsberg GlobalSim for the National Ports Agency, the simulator uses a  33 foot dome screen and 12 projectors to immerse operators in a virtual training environment. The simulator offers six different types of cranes for operators to train on, including ship-to-shore cranes and straddle carriers.

Crane Training Simulator
The World’s Largest Crane Training Simulator
Clyde Stauffer, GlobalSim Vice President of Marketing and Sales:
“What is possible with today’s technology is absolutely amazing. The level of realism these simulators achieve creates a phenomenal training environment without the risks of using real equipment.”
As reported by Vertikal.net, the world’s largest crane training simulator is now fully operational, installed by Kongsberg GlobalSim for the National Ports Agency of Morocco in the port of Casablanca.

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Monday, July 08, 2013

Crane Training Simulators Prepare Operators

Cranes, and the people who operate them, are hard at work all over the world every day. If you've passed a large construction site, you've most likely seen a tower crane, commonly used for the movement of heavy materials and equipment. Just about every shipping container you've ever seen, and the freight that it holds, has been loaded and unloaded by a gantry crane. Take into account the fact that overhead cranes are used for just about every step of production in the automotive and steel industries, and it becomes clear how important cranes and the people who operate them are to the industrial world. Just like every other piece of heavy equipment, crane operator training is of paramount importance, and this training must be high-quality, cost effective, and have no impact on production - a perfect application for training simulators.

Crane Operator Training Simulator
Crane Operator Training Simulator
Last month, the Operating Engineers College (OEC) in Holyrood, Newfoundland, launched their new Tower Crane Operating Program, featuring virtual crane simulators for students to train on. The OEC plans to use this simulation-based training facility in order to produce the large number of crane operators that will be required to construct the $14 billion ExxonMobil Hebron project in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

Lorna Harnum, Administrator for the Operating Engineers College:
“The Operating Engineers College provides operators with the opportunity to upgrade and enhance their skills, and to produce an on-going supply of apprentices and certified journeypersons to the construction industry. Now, because of the strong partnership that exists between the Provincial Government, the college, Operating Engineers Local 904 and industry, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will have the opportunity to avail of the only tower crane program offered in Atlantic Canada.” 
The centerpiece of the Hebron project will be a stand-along gravity-based offshore oil platform that is being constructed on top of the Hebron oil field, estimated to contain at least 660 million barrels of recoverable resources. The platform is being developed to withstand severe ocean conditions, including sea ice and icebergs, for a period of at least 40 years, with the capability of producing up to 150,000 barrels of oil per day. Clearly the operators who will be responsible for developing the platform to meet these production estimates will need the best possible training, so it comes as no surprise that significant investments in training simulators are being made for the project.

Joan Burke, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills
“The development of the Tower Crane Operator Training Program is a true example of partnership in action and the direct result of the Provincial Government listening and being responsive to the needs of industry. Newfoundland and Labrador will see as many as 70,000 job openings by 2020 and as a government we are working with our partners – including business, labour and training institutions to take full advantage of the opportunities ahead.” 
Crane training simulators allow you to provide uninterrupted hands-on training to your operators, with the ability for managers to track and analyze their digital training records. This training can be custom tailored to meet your specific requirements, including emergency operation conditions, which are often difficult or impossible to train for. Training simulators keep operators safe, training costs low, and pose no disruption to production. With the worldwide demand for energy-based resources always on the rise, it stands to reason that projects like the one on the Hebron oil field will become more common as well. With projects like this on the rise, the demand for highly-skilled crane and heavy equipment operators will rise in parallel, leading to an increased demand for simulators to train the operators that will be required.

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Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Oil and Gas Industry Face Skilled Labor Shortage

The Global Oil and Gas Workforce Survey, just released by Air Energi and OilCareers.com, is a new report that warns of a shortage in skilled labor and trainers in the oil and gas industry, especially in the liquefied natural gas and subsea sectors. The report concludes that this shortage is directly affecting safety in the global oil and gas industry, and that this shortage of a well-trained workforce must be addressed immediately. Factor in that one-half of the industry's skilled workers are set to retire within in 10 years, while the number of skilled positions is constantly rising, and it's easy to see how this conclusion was reached. For example, the Dow Chemical Company recently announced that it will build three new petrochemical facilities on the Gulf Coast of Texas, part of a $4 billion expansion plan to take advantage of the current shale gas and oil boom.

So how does the industry plan to train the skilled workforce that is being demanded? Training simulators of course!

Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc, based in Houston, Texas is one of the oldest deepwater drilling contractors in the world. They recently announced that 187 new offshore oil rigs are either under construction or on order, and those rigs will require thousands of skilled workers over the next few years. Diamond Offshore currently employs 5,300 people worldwide, and is expected to hire another 970 before the end of the year.

Diamond Offshore is no stranger to training simulators and recently opened their $10 million Offshore Technology Center. This center contains some of the most advanced training simulators in the world, and will be used to put together an army of workers that will operate the new rigs that are currently under construction.

Diamond Offshore Drilling Training Simulator Facility

The Offshore Technology Center is located in a renovated parking garage on their Houston campus. The facility contains more than 20 simulators, including a large 3D projection dome that was constructed over the windows of a replicated driller's control room. Digital projectors allow trainees to learn and tackle the spatial relations challenges posed by working on a drilling pipe string that extends 100 feet above the deck of the oil rig.

Diamond Offshore CEO, Lawrence Dickerson said:
"There is no substitute for experience on the rig, but we can replicate the kinds of situations that might take five or six years of experience on the rig to see on a full-cycle basis. So we can go through that in much shorter order."

Charlie Williams, Executive Director of training facility, believes that training simulators will become just as important to the offshore oil rig operator, as they are for the airline pilot:
"In really difficult critical situations, people depend not only on their training, but they depend on their experience. The way to prepare them is to train them on simulators."

Modern mining companies, in every sector, from shale to deepwater, understand the value and impact of using 3D training simulators to improve the skills of their workforce. Training simulators produce operators that are more productive and make fewer mistakes, which leads directly to overall cost-savings for mining operations.

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