TT Talk - Accrue benefits of simulator training

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The ongoing pandemic backdrop, where social distancing and remote working practices remain, has spurred the use of simulators for training operators of cargo handling equipment as an essential tool in the container terminal training armoury.

The benefits of utilising simulators for training purposes in container terminals are being increasingly appreciated across the globe. While handling equipment technology is increasingly employed to good effect, partially engineering out certain risks, training personnel who operate container handling equipment to recognise and have a sound awareness of risk remains vital. In many disciplines throughout the industry, a key risk to be overcome is that operators become entirely reliant on technology, which can result in an erosion of expertise and experience over time.

Training personnel who operate container handling equipment to recognise and have a sound awareness of risk [is] vital

Over the last decade, the use of simulators for training operators of cargo handling equipment has increased dramatically. Simulators are now not only the realm of aircraft pilots, they have hit the earth running, so to speak. Simulator training is now available for container quay (ship to shore) cranes, bulk grab unloaders, yard cranes, reach stackers, forklifts, trucks, terminal tractors and much more.

The rise of health and safety concerns has helped foster this rise in simulator training. Traditional ’on-the-job‘ training can result in accidents and often impedes efficient operations. It is not uncommon to hear experienced equipment operators comment that ”when I did my training, I was hitting the wrong buttons, alarms were going off, I did not know what I was doing”. Besides regulatory requirements, most companies today recognise the need and also the benefits of having a strong safety focus. Improved safety, not only saves lives but also saves money. This compounds with the obvious need to ensure that personnel are trained in functional competence and procedural awareness.

One obstacle that simulator training had to overcome was that of cost; advances in technology and increased demand through deployment have resulted in a reduction in cost and enhanced perception of value. Operators can procure simulator equipment themselves or adopt a more flexible and cost-effective model in utilising simulators in central training centres.

While simulators have not yet been – and may never be – universally adopted in the industry, those deploying such technology are appreciating multi-faceted benefits. As the world seeks to assimilate post-pandemic ways, where certain restrictions and physical distancing requirements are likely to be the norm, one such added benefit of simulator training is the ability to train new operators without the need for learners and trainers to sit side by side in the same machine cabin or confined environment.

Greater adoption of simulation brings both challenges and opportunities. Every new bespoke or generic engagement enables providers to consider ways to improve not just the learning experience but also the transition to real life operation. This may be most pertinent for entities that are additionally moving to remote or ‘out of the cab’ operational activity. However, that ‘sixth sense’ experience is inevitably acquired by doing the job over time. Whatever the sophistication currently deployed in operations or training, benefits will accrue when there is integration with operational monitoring technology in order to deliver continuous improvement.

In summary form, here is an assessment of current benefits in simulator training:

1. Improved safety

  • Precludes the risk of damage and injuries
  • Increases safety awareness
  • Strengthens the practice of emergency responses
  • Enables the reconstruction of accidents
  • Delivers physical distancing

2. Increased training effectiveness

  • Reduces time from training to operator readiness
  • Exposes trainees to unusual challenges (that might takes years to experience on the job)
  • Increases the rate of successful operator training
  • Supports operators in meeting or exceeding required operational standards
  • Provides objective assessment of operators skill and competence
  • Develops more confident operators

3. Increased terminal productivity

  • Facilitates pre-training skills assessments 
  • Increases the average operator performance
  • Releases experienced operators from being trainers
  • Operators are more productive from day one on the job
  • Supports experienced operators to refresh skills and procedures
  • Provides the opportunity to train to proficiency prior to delivery of remote-operated equipment

All these benefits can reduce costs and training time, increase productivity and more importantly improve safety. As a consequence, TT Club would commend the use of simulators for training of operators of cargo handling equipment.


We hope that you have found the above interesting. If you would like further information, or have any comments, please email us, or take this opportunity to forward to any colleagues who you may feel would be interested.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Peregrine Storrs-Fox

Risk Management Director, TT Club


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Peregrine Storrs-Fox

Risk Management Director