Lloyd's Register launches VR safety simulator
Lloyd’s Register (LR) has launched a Virtual Reality (VR) Safety Simulator to help further support training and knowledge transfer in the energy industry. Through the application of the latest innovation and technology advancements, LR has built a virtual environment to help illustrate the need for a continued focus on safety and risk assessments in the industry.
“Training and educating the industry on how to enhance operational safety and improve business performance is at the heart of LR’s business,” said Teril Smith, director of operations at LR. “Using the latest technology, we enable users of the safety simulator to experience real-life challenges which the industry is exposed to, and in a non-threatening environment, thereby enhancing their own knowledge and understanding of the key issues the industry faces in the offshore environment.”
The value to a business using VR technology is immense and helps to reduce the costs of non-productive time, measured in hundreds of millions of dollars annually across the industry due to operating downtime and inefficiencies.
LR’s VR Safety Simulator utilises the latest high-powered computing to simulate real-life situations with a high degree of interactivity for the user. Its training allows both young and experienced trainees at its Global Academy Training Centers to explore training possibilities by building on the remote training solutions being developed by LR’s training centre experts.
Luis De La Fuente, a Global Academy training manager at LR in Houston, said: “We developed this high-tech VR Safety Simulation to help educate oil and gas workers in dealing with complex equipment and environments, in harsh climatic conditions and with serious emergency risks. Scenarios are created from real-life experiences and incidents.”
LR’s VR tool provides interactive simulations that close the gap between the abstract experience of a lecture and the concrete experience of navigating and handling actual objects on-site. “They enrich the learning experience by providing opportunities for trainees to interact with equipment and environments, gaining a better understanding and improving knowledge retention, orientation and safety training,” said De La Fuente.
It also enables new employees to explore scenarios in different sites and experience standard operating procedures in advance. LR believes this level of preparation means that workers are ready to hit the ground running and keep up with the demanding pace of oil and gas extraction and processing work once they’ve arrived on-site.
“Entire plant crews must communicate and cooperate in order to execute a flawless start-up or a precise shutdown,” said De La Fuente. “Human nature, communication, decisions and reaction times mean that trainees very rarely get it right the first time, or even the second time, but the consequences of a team’s or individual’s correct and incorrect decisions are sent immediately back to the trainees on our VR Safety Simulation program, which gives them the opportunity to directly learn from their mistakes.
“They can practise, and practise time and time again, until they are near perfect and the entire procedure becomes second nature for the entire plant crew before they undertake it for real, whether onshore or offshore. Workers can gain familiarisation with the rig, plant or pipeline layout, equipment operation, walking paths and evacuation routes and memorise the location of safety devices.”
The company is quick to point out that leveraging VR Safety Simulation models to improve time to competency in critical areas such as safety and environment protection systems is a must.
US spending on corporate training grew by 15% last year was reported by BP Training Associates to have the highest growth rate in seven years, to over US$70 billion in the US and over $130 billion worldwide.
“We are on the cusp of an upward trend in technology tools used to train people,” said Smith. “Video, online communications and virtual learning are growing rapidly as training tools. While people still need formal classroom-based training and education, we see significant growth in new virtual learning environments, and our VR Safety Simulator is just the beginning as it allows mentors and trainees to come together far more easily than a physical trip to a conference or course event.”
Offshore rigs, refineries and other processing plants are some of the world’s largest, most complex facilities, operating around the clock at peak capacity under some of the harshest conditions on the planet. Many upgrade, refurbishment and maintenance projects involve hundreds of workers who must be thoroughly trained — especially in safety-related operations such as handling fires, toxic chemicals, high-pressure leaks and other emergency incidents. Scheduling requires precise choreography to ensure each step occurs on time and in proper sequence.
“Companies and their employees can benefit from exposure to VR technology as a working tool,” said Smith. “Organisations are increasing productivity and lowering costs by better planning operations and maintenance procedures, maximising workflow and utilisation of resources with detail and coordinated scheduling, and making plants safer and more efficient with comprehensive VR and simulation-based training.”
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