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OVERHEAD CRANES

New and futuristic concepts are fast changing the face of the crane industry Speaking during a recent hoisting conference Christina Lanham, Managing Director of ITI showcased how virtual reality was impacting positively on overhead crane simulation training. Simulation has been used in the aviation industry as a training tool since as early as 1917. Whilst these early (and very crude) simulators look nothing like their modern-day counterparts they proved to be extremely effective in providing the necessary training for pilots – an approach that holds to this day. “There are numerous benefits to simulation,” says Lanham. “Providing real-life experience learners can gain first-hand knowledge of tools, programmes and devices in a simulated environment without any of the risks involved in it were happening for real.” There is immediate feedback for participants and the entire experience is often considered to allow for far more knowledge retention. IN the current economic environment the advantages of reduced cost and time are just as noteworthy. “Simulation training today looks very different to what it did a hundred years ago,” says Lanham explaining how ongoing research and development is delivering a better product all the time. 24

Lifting Africa - Nov/Dec 2020

Last year in the United States virtual reality was introduced into a pilot training programme. “The result was that within four months 13 of the participating 30 students were ready to sign off as pilots in a programme that typically takes a minimum of 12 months.” Virtual reality, she says, is a gamechanger in the simulation industry whether it is being used to train pilots or crane operators. “ It not only shortens the period of training but is a huge cost saving.” She says the application of virtual reality in a variety of training programmes is possible from learning how to spray paint ships to assembling engines. “There is much potential in the overhead crane industry because this is an industry where mistakes are not only costly but can be fatal.” Why use simulators at all There is much to be said for allowing students to learn in safeto-fail environments, says Lanham. “More so, one can do training without having to stop a crane from operating. All the cranes remain operational even if there is training happening.” Allowing cranes to

remain at work while training happens is a major boon. “Lost production is one of the massive costs that have to be considered. New operators are also not endangering themselves or other employees by working on a live crane while still learning. It truly does allow an operator to fail safely and to try again until they get it right.” Another reason to use simulators for overhead crane operator training is that one can train to critical failures that cannot be replicated in any live situation. “Mistakes can be costly, but at worst fatal. With a simulator training can happen with no harm coming to any person or damage to equipment.” Virtual reality, she says, adds to the benefits of simulation. “Firstly, it offers a 360-degree environment. Once you put on the headset you have an entire world in front of you. It is very immersive training and because this is happening at a higher level, the training is taking place at a higher level.” More so, training is appropriate and capability is

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