DISCOVER Magazine #7

Simulator training for the dredging industry

Published in category: Dredging & Marine Contracting

On the subject of simulator training for tugs and offshore support vessels, Damen’s facilities at 360 Control are proving their worth for operators in the towage and offshore sectors. In fact, the client feedback speaks for itself. Following on from this, Damen Dredging Equipment (DDE) is expanding this concept to include the dredging industry too.

Here, DDE Project Manager Erwin Muller and R&D Engineer Ewout van Duursen highlight the benefits of the recently developed Cutter Suction Dredger (CSD) simulator. In addition to a greater focus on safety and efficiency, simulator training also leads to optimised production – which, as any dredge master knows, is the real key to success.

The first crucial advantage afforded by DDE’s simulator concerns safe and efficient dredging activities. “Operations become more efficient when you optimise the whole process,” says Erwin. “Using the simulator shows operators what areas can be improved upon to make production more efficient. And although not necessarily in the simulator programme itself, training sessions will always include briefings of the various safety issues involved with a CSD.” This focus on safety will be particularly beneficial for those operators relatively new to the dredging industry.

Reacting to the situation

Efficient dredging also relates to learning the routine operations of a vessel, adds Ewout.

Our simulator training clearly indicates the various points of attention necessary during day-to-day operations.

“What to do with changes in production caused by changing sand-water mixture, for example. Or when production alters during the swinging process of the cutter head. It’s all about keeping production high.”

Test drive a dredger

Regarding vessel familiarisation, it is interesting to look at the primary groups that would gain the most from simulator training courses, which currently include Damen CSD 500 and CSD 650 vessels.

  • Dredge operators looking to improve their own operating skills,
  • Dredge owners wanting to train crews for efficient operations,
  • Crewing agencies looking to train dredge operators,
  • Dredge owners or crewing agencies wanting to develop a “Train the Trainer” programme.

Damen Simulator inside

“For the training purposes like these we can configure the simulator to the exact specifications of the client’s vessel. And this includes all the optional extras that are available on these vessels,” Erwin says, referring to options such as instrumentation and production measurement packages, survey systems, or a spud carriage.

Because these options can be turned on or off as required, this also gives Damen’s CSD simulator a ‘test-drive’ function – helping clients make decisions about their final vessel configuration before purchase. The example of a spud carriage is a good one. On the one hand, it represents a greater initial investment; on the other, it leads to higher production values; a situation demonstrated by using the simulator.


Dredging instrumentation

The simulator developed by DDE also includes instrumentation and survey packages. Working together, parameters such as dredging depth, type of soil and pipeline distance can simulated. “Learning how to use instrumentation effectively is also important because this allows operators to keep the production process as efficient as possible,” notes Erwin.

The survey equipment shows what is happening under the water surface. It shows you what you are removing and where you are removing it from.


Tailor made training

There is currently a simulator located at DDE’s offices in Nijkerk, the Netherlands, but it is in fact a highly mobile installation. “We have sent a simulator to the Damen Asia Service Hub. This is an office model, approximately 2 by 2 metres,” says Erwin. “But we also have a larger version that we have installed into a standard CSD operator’s cabin. This fits into a twenty foot container.”

This last point really shows the exciting potential of the DDE simulator; coordinating simulator training with delivery of a new vessel. “As soon as a client has ordered a vessel, we can send him the operator’s cabin of that vessel with the simulator inside. The client’s training and vessel familiarisation programme can start immediately while we are customising the vessel.” The result of this operational ‘head start’ is that, at the moment of delivery, the client’s crews only have to remove the simulator and they will be ready for action.

Not forgetting the bigger picture of vessel training, Ewout concludes by pointing out the bespoke nature of DDE’s simulator training. “The simulator will be just one of the tools that an operator can use for training purposes, supplemented by training sessions with hydraulic and electrical systems suppliers, for instance.”

To that end, we will be able to offer truly made-to-measure simulator training packages that fit into the client’s whole training strategy.

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