Training on the job is inefficient and presents hazards. Simulation training in shipping is taking many forms, from huge multi-million dollar navigation suites to wearing a pair of virtual reality goggles
Effective simulation requires clean data points from the real world to create a digital twin. The nature and transferability of this data is one of the areas tackled by concept of having an industry-standard open-source digital simulation platform for models and systems. Then the data used to create a simulation on shore that is transferable and will recreate the simulation elsewhere, such as on the bridge, or across a number of training tools. In the tanker sector this could range from shore-based simulation of port entry to cargo loading / discharge simulation on a mobile phone.
To this end the Open Simulation Platform (OSP) initiative was established with the signing of a memorandum of understanding at Norwegian Competence Centre (NMK) in Ålesund by Rolls-Royce Marine, DNV GL and SINTEF in July 2017. It was officially launched in March 2018, when new partners including Hyundai Heavy Industries, Kongsberg Digital, Vard and Offshore Simulator Centre.
A platform such as the OSP allows so-called digital twins to be built, which are complex complete simulations of vessels and their systems. The idea is that contributors create virtualised versions of their hardware (for example, a Rolls-Royce thruster) by gathering performance data from the asset using sensors. As the digital twin is built from data gathered from the physical asset, it is still compatible with the software. These virtualised versions are the digital twins, and under OSP would be submitted to a central library.
OSP will develop a standardised co-simulation interface that will allow virtualised versions of assets to be simulated together (for example, it would allow a thruster to be simulated alongside the main engine). This will bring together the digital twins into a co-simulation master algorithm, incorporating multiple systems.
Potential uses for digital twins include optimisation, requirement design and type approval during the design phase of a project, integration, testing and acceptance, interface management and certification in the construction phase and change management, troubleshooting, training and classification in the operational phase.
A prototype OSP is already running, simulating a vessel and a DP system conducting a dynamic positioning operation. This prototype uses the cloud to allow teams in different locations to work together to optimise the system design and vessel performance, to verify correct handling of control-system failures for the vessel’s automated positioning system and to vary system changes and their operational impact before they are deployed to the actual vessel.
The problem for OSP is that like other open-source tools, it works both ways and might be used to simulate rival systems. While the goal of the project is to share information and that vendors would supply models of equipment, vendors who did not want to unnecessarily share sensitive data would have the option of simulating their systems on their own servers and providing the customer with the output data. Vendors can also opt to make models available free of charge a fee to users wishing to access them. However, the merger march might overtake those fears seeing as the large companies providing simulation services are becoming ever closer.
For instance, thruster manufacturer Rolls-Royce Marine is using the OSP tool to create a digital twin simulation model that will verify the power and propulsion system modules and their integration via a virtual test setup.
Transas developed one of the world’s most sophisticated ship simulator suite in Southampton. Following Wärtsilä’s takeover of Transas, the facility is now part of Wärtsilä larger plans for simulators and training.
One year after the Transas takeover, Wärtsilä digital business incubation manager Matteo Natali explained the simulation strategy to Tanker Shipping and Trade and how it related to tankers.
Wärtsilä is creating two complimentary digital arenas, Smart Energy and Smart Marine. Smart Energy is using digital simulation toward a 100% renewable energy while Smart Marine encompasses a hybrid tug, Wärtsilä’s project management of the Teekay e-shuttle tankers, and a specialist hybrid centre. Smart Marine is centre around the automation of operations and inter-connects with recent Wärtsilä development including its link-up with Concirrus insurance (a smart insurance app), Wärtsilä Eniram’s real-time decision making and augmented reality such as that used by Wärtsilä Seals & Bearings. According to Mr Natali, by the end of 2019, Wärtsilä will have in place a suite of Smart Marine inter-connected simulation and training offerings.
Enabling the Smart Marine evolution is one of the tasks of Transas, now part of Wärtsilä. Wärtsilä Transas vice president Vladimir Ponomarev is based in St Petersburg and it is his task to join the dots between simulation and training, fleet operations and traffic control. This is contained in the so-called “A-Suite”.
Wärtsilä Transas A-Suite:
AIR – Advanced Intelligent Routing
AID – Advanced Intelligent Diagnostics
AIM – Advanced Intelligent Manoeuvring
ADD – Advanced Data Delivery
ARM – Advanced Remote Maintenance
ARTS – Advanced Remote Training for Seafarers
The approach by Wärtsilä is a holistic one, and in keeping with its philosophy of being a provider heavy industry software rather than a provider of prime mover engines, the company has a range of simulators in Southampton based in the old but radical IBM building. While Tanker Shipping & Trade was visiting, the simulators were in action, training the next generation of trainers using simulators.
But navigation training does not have to be confined to full-suite simulators. Seafarers can test their navigation skills, competencies and experience different scenarios using bridge simulators.
This does not need to be in a full-mission system – valuable experience can also be gained on critical e-navigation technology using desktop simulators.
Under IMO’s Standards for Training, Certification and Watchkeeping, seafarer cadets need to take the generic IMO 1.27 model course on ECDIS as part of the deck officer training.
Most shipping companies and their charterers also require them to complete courses specific to the type of ECDIS they will be using on board, says Wärtsilä Voyage Simulation expert Alex Ponomarev
“Most ships have dual ECDIS, so cadets need to show their IMO model course certificates to demonstrate they know the general function of ECDIS. Plus, they need type-specific training to show that they know all of the buttons, functions and procedures on ECDIS.”
Seafarers may need to be retrained on ECDIS as new models are introduced, so they remain familiar with the features and functions. “ECDIS training can be conducted on desktop simulators and online,” says Mr Ponomarev. “Trainees can register for web-based courses and train at their own pace.”
These courses can be conducted anywhere with an online connection, or offline in offices and on ships.
“They take an examination online and use a webcam to verify their identity. If they pass, they get a certificate,” says Mr Ponomarev.
However, as ECDIS becomes an integrated part of a full navigation system there is an increasing need for simulator training.
Wärtsilä has developed simulation programs for full-mission bridge simulators that cover most types of ship or are designed for specific vessels.
“We worked with shipowners to develop new vessel models,” Mr Ponomarev explains. “We collect data from real ships and shipyards to develop our ship models. Our simulators can be used to deliver all kinds of training, including navigation, collision avoidance regulations, ECDIS, type-specific equipment training and bridge resource management.”
He thinks officer training should also include human element and leadership training on simulators. “There is a difference between completing courses for compliance to serve on a ship and training to improve competence,” he says.
Wärtsilä provides bridge simulation training programs based on its NTPRO 5000 software.
Using VR to reduce cargo claims on chemical carriers
The e-learning and video-based training technology company, Videotel, has launched a new virtual reality (VR) training title for tank cleaning.
Ensuring cargo tanks are properly cleaned to receive their next cargo is a complex operation and is a vital part of safe operation on board, especially when carrying sensitive chemical cargoes. It will also help ship operators avoid potential claims running into millions of dollars due to cargo damage caused by failure to analyse tank washings correctly, leading to insufficient tank cleaning on board chemical tankers.
The effectiveness of tank cleaning for such cargoes is often assessed by visual inspection and a methanol wall-wash test which involves applying a solvent to selected areas of the cargo tank bulkheads. The solvent is then analysed for key quality parameters. If this onboard test is not performed properly or results read wrongly by crew, this could result in a vessel being de-berthed and additional tank cleaning taking placed with the associated costs and time losses.
“By immersing the learner in the virtual reality environment, it is possible to give them a deeper understanding of the processes and procedures required to undertake a wall wash test effectively by giving the user a 360° visualisation with haptic motion controllers providing an unrivalled simulation of the real-world task that a competent seafarer must perform,” said Videotel’ s managing director Raal Harris.
“Chemicals are volatile, and the carriage of a previous load can hugely impact the next one if the correct processes around tank cleaning are not followed. Using our VR training title means learning and assessment can reach higher levels of accuracy than could otherwise be attained as users learn by doing,” he continued.
Videotel’ s VR training module Wall Wash Test - Protecting Your Cargo has been produced in association with the company’s VR content partners OMS, a professional maritime software development company.
Videotel was part of KVH Industries before being sold to Oakley Capital in May 2019 for a reported US$90M.
Seaspan Marine builds the “only simulator of its kind in North America”
Canadian ship operator Seaspan Marine Transportation has unveiled a state-of-the-art simulator which is the central plank of a multi-million dollar safety training programme.
The Marine Safety Simulator provides advanced educational opportunities for Seaspan Marine mariners, giving them access to continuous, real-time training. Seaspan believes the simulator training will set a new industry benchmark for safety training, environmental performance and operational efficiency.
The two fully-enclosed simulators feature 17 computers and 12 displays, providing a floor-to-ceiling, 360-degree environmental visual that completely immerses trainees in real-world scenarios. The result of these, and other specialised features, is a completely interactive and dynamic educational environment.
“The Marine Simulator Facility is first and foremost an investment in our people, who have been safely navigating British Columbia’s water ways for over 130 years. The simulator training will continue to elevate the competency of our mariners while increasing the safety and efficiency of our operations,” said Seaspan Marine chief executive officer Frank Butzelaar at the opening of the facility.