The pace of change accelerated by the pandemic is leading to new ways of working and equally innovative ways of learning.
The maritime sector is undergoing a seismic transformation, with decarbonisation, the energy transition, climate change, digitalisation, and automation. The pace of change has undoubtedly been accelerated by the pandemic.
It has led to new ways of working and learning – and some innovative technological approaches.
Earlier this year, we revealed, for example, how Singapore-headquartered Rocktree was using Microsoft’s HoloLens, a wearable, augmented reality headset which uses advanced optics and holographic processing to inspect machinery remotely and send visuals back to HQ. It was an innovation that arose out of necessity, with travel off the agenda at the height of the pandemic, seafarers and engineers stranded, and others working remotely.
Meanwhile, autonomous vessels have been trialled in North America to test their potential in the global war against illegal fishing – a fascinating project supervised by IMarEST Fellow, Justin Manley.
Data Xplorer is a solar powered ocean drone, used in a project supervised by Justin Manley (Credit: Open Ocean Robotics)
Marine engineering innovators are looking to underwater drones and robots capable of making subsea operations cheaper, safer for people, and less polluting. The world’s leading navies are looking to a future with autonomous vessels.
The tech shift, naturally, spills over to training.
Singapore operator Eastern Pacific Shipping (EPS) has taken the step of introducing virtual reality to its LNG bunkering training which has just passed the LR Approved Training Provider Scheme.
Trainees – who can be located anywhere, including their home – wear VR headsets and ‘step’ onto the deck of a virtual EPS ship, complete with an LNG pump and the equipment needed for LNG bunkering.
They see and hear the online avatars of other colleagues taking part at the same time, while walking around and exploring with real-time instructor feedback on their work.
Gil Ofer, EPS special advisor for innovation, explained the benefits of the approach: “During LNG bunkering, seafarers on board need to know how to check pressure lines, connect hoses in a specific sequence and open or close the right valves at the right time. Practising beforehand in a virtual environment builds the ‘muscle memory’ that helps internalise these processes.”
Virtual training like this has the added advantage of being time and cost-effective, with no travel or expenses incurred, but still benefits from instructor feedback.
We need flexible and innovative learning: Thomas Zeferer, Lloyd’s Register Marine Training Services Manager for Northern Europe
Evolution is omnipresent in Learning & Development. From ancient Egypt to contemporary best practices of gamification and (immersive) simulators. Sometimes slow, sometimes accelerated through disrupting events of conflict or ‘black swan’ events like the emergence of internet, digital transformation, or COVID-19.
It has transformed the way we work, think, and behave, with technology for remote forms of communication emerging in an accelerated fashion.
And while face to face interactions are more valued than before, there is recognition of not being the sole option. Traditional workshops and training courses have been enhanced by the introduction of Virtual Instructor Lead Training (VILT) and Stand-Alone E-Learning. Whether or not as the sole feasible option, or as part of a blended training solution, VILT Training will continue to enrich education in the digital transformation age.
Lloyd’s Register (LR) combines practical experience of its surveyors and auditors with flexible training schemes in order to meet the training needs of its clients. Taking into account the main transformational drivers of decarbonisation, digitalisation and Risk Based Design, new and flexible products are required that can be adapted to the specific learning needs as opposed to the ‘one-size-fits-all’ generic solutions. Change Management and Leadership Development supporting solutions are required to keep everyone onboard and connected within the rapidly increasing rate of changes being introduced or forced upon the industry.
LR’s Marine Training Services continues to embrace and develop a wide range of learning solutions, with increased focus since its inclusion in Lloyd’s Register’s Maritime Performance Services. Field knowledge and specialist expertise are provided on a variety of topics, including Maritime Management Systems, Technical and Operational Efficiency, Rules and Regulations, Marine Change Management and Leadership Development.
Compliance vs competence
The accelerated introduction of changes and new technology requires acceleration and enhancement of training to close gaps between compliance and competence. The value of simulators and gamification in training has long since been recognised, in both technology and change management, due to the heightened retention rate of knowledge and skills through learner-centered and action-orientated solutions.
Recent examples include the Lloyd’s Register Safety Simulator using Augmented Reality and gaming technologies to simulate real-life experiences in a digital offshore environment, the Kanda VR LNG Bunkering Training course (approved through the LR Approved Training Provider Scheme) as well as the cooperation with Atria Learning & Development in Leadership Development training, incorporating the Human Element in Shipping Simulation and Business Simulations.
Culture of safety
Given the increasing challenges in efficiency, sustainability and safety, a flexible and innovative learning approach is needed. Utilising technology where possible, either with instructor-led virtual courses or with advanced virtual reality applications, LR understands that training must go above and beyond educating users on specific procedures or upcoming regulations, it should create and maintain an overall culture of safety.
Creating a remote and autonomous workforce: Gordon Meadow, Seabot XR
Technology and the move towards greater adoption of remote and autonomous systems in shipping has brought with it the need to create and monitor new competency and training standards.
First highlighted some years ago by the IMarEST Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships Special Interest Group, it led to a group of representatives from European and international maritime administrations joining forces with industry to develop world-class competency and training standards for remote and autonomous vessels.
Snake-like autonomous robots developed by Eelume (Credit: Eelume)
Formed in February, MASSPeople, the Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) International Training Standards Working Group, was created by Fugro, the world's foremost Geo-data specialist and SeaBot XR, a leading agency for next-generation cutting-edge learning products and services in the maritime sector, and the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the first flag administration to join.
Gordon Meadow CMarTech FIMarEST, founder and CEO of Seabot XR explained: “We’re thrilled that national flags have agreed to come and work with us to ensure the skills, knowledge and competencies required by mariners now and in the future will always be the right fit.”
Learning needs to be holistic: John Chudley, MLA College
Professor John Chudley PhD CEng FIMarEST, is Rector of Plymouth-based MLA College, an IMarEST partner, which offers state-of-the-art technology-enhanced distance learning e-courses serving the needs of the marine/maritime sector in a range of subjects from Sustainable Maritime Operations to Engineering for the Marine Professional.
MLA is a global education provider with programmes designed specifically for distance learning to achieve true “education beyond borders”. These are offered at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and include top-up degrees to aid in routes to professional registration.
He explained that quality distance learning requires a holistic approach to the delivery, tutor support and assessment. The pandemic has led to a number of providers shifting their content online without tailoring their approach, this has resulted in some “rather mixed” offerings. Although a technology-led approach is used at the MLA, students remain at the heart, and it is a priority to consider learning outcomes and utilise methods that keep students from around the globe connected.
“VR and simulators are just the tools to learn. Yes, they can enhance learning experience, but the focus must be matched to clear learning outcomes relevant for the industry you’re working in, hence the holistic approach of the MLA”.