Christchurch application designers LWA Solutions has unveiled plans to launch a virtual reality pilot training app with the Ports of Auckland, to be deployed in early 2018.
Unveiled at the recent New Zealand Maritime Pilot Association conference in Christchurch, the app has been labelled as a “world-first” in virtual reality technology.
“Maritime pilots people guide ships safely into harbours all around the world,” LWA CEO Atta Elayyan said. “As part of their job, they have to get on and off moving cargo ships by means of a rope ladder – a demanding and risky job.”
As a result, Elayyan said the LWA app uses virtual reality to safely simulate the experience maritime pilots go through when getting on and off ships.
“It’s a highly cost-effective training method, safely simulating highly variable conditions making it superior to current training methods,” Elayyan explained.
According to Elayyan, virtual reality training will become an “industry standard in the very near future”, providing a “risk-free way” to prepare trainee pilots for the tasks ahead, while also efficiently vetting out those who may not be cut out for the role.
“We understand there are no solutions like this anywhere in the world using virtual reality headsets,” Elayyan added.
“Our simulation is targeting the ‘embarkation training’, which is the physical process of safely maneuvering outside the pilot boat and climbing a nine metre ladder to board the ship, while both the pilot boat and ship are under way.
“Some ports overseas use ship bridge simulators, which are very costly to set up or hire. We are using a highly cost-effective virtual reality training system which requires minimal physical space and is portable. We can see this disrupting bridge simulation in future.”
In addition, LWA Solutions has also produced a special app for the Ports of Auckland designed to help improve the piloting of ships into the harbour.
Operating as the first fully digital piloting application of its kind in Australasia, Elayyan said the offering has increased the efficiency and reduced potential human error by consolidating multiple processes into a single app highlighting ship schedules, tidal calculations and manouvre drawings.
The Ports of Auckland has about 1500 shipping arrivals a year and is “always looking for ways to do more with less”.
“We use a crane and straddle simulator to train our crane and straddle drivers, a move which has improved our efficiency and saved $3 million dollars in training costs,” Ports of Auckland Senior Pilot John Barker added.
“Our pilot app, developed with LWA Solutions, has made the master-pilot transfer safer and more efficient. Now we are introducing the virtual reality pilot training app, which aims to enhance safety by improving training for one of the most-risky manoeuvres in port operations.
“It is another step in our journey to becoming a world-class sustainable port.”
From a global perspective, LWA also recently produced an app to help courier drivers in the Middle East, for multi-billion Dubai-based company Aramex.
With 13,900 employees at 354 locations across 60 countries, Aramex is the largest logistics and transport services company in the Middle East.
Last year, Aramex bought New Zealand courier firm Fastway, which has an annual turnover of $500 million.