Ports will need to think differently about how they attract talent, and the skills and experience personnel will need as automation becomes further entrenched in operations
Many have complained about the relative lack of new blood coming into shipping in recent times, but one of the foremost areas of concern is what to do with them when they do arrive. Poised on the brink of an imminent digitalisation – at present, equally certain to arrive as it is nearly impossible to define – what exactly should ports be training their newest hires to do?
In February 2020, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) highlighted the story of Majed Al Wawi, a 21-year-old Syrian refugee in Germany. He had first enrolled in Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG’s (HHLA’s) vocational training programme for engineers. Quick to gain a proficiency in the German language, Al Wawi was granted a place on the logistics and transport company’s programme in mid-2019, after serving a series of internships within the port. He is currently learning the role of mechatronics engineering, which comprise mechanical, electrical, and computer training.
Al Wawi, now fully enrolled in the three-year training course, said, “That first day was astonishing, I was really motivated … it was always my dream to work with big machines; the bigger the machine, the more fun it is to operate. All the staff are so nice to me and friendly – it’s a lot of fun.”
In October 2019, CM Labs launched two port equipment-related products: an update to its Vortex STS-crane training pack and the Mobile Harbour Crane Simulator (MHC Simulator) training pack.
The Vortex STS-crane training platform comprises a workstation that mocks up a crane cabin, including a chair incorporating the various controls and switches. If desired, the point-of-view camera can be repositioned by the instructor with a standard gaming joypad.
The STS simulation suite is designed to train users to operate cranes in a variety of situations and working with 20-, 40-, and 45-feet spreaders as well as twin 20-feet containers. The simulator includes operational flippers and twist locks; it also manages chain lifts, a personnel platform, and an over-height frame. Meanwhile, modern processing allows for realistic physics and accurate simulation of cables, full and empty containers, and breakbulk loads.
Meanwhile, the MHC Simulator was developed to train users for “complex lift trajectories, compromised views, and unexpected equipment failures”, according to CM Labs on its website. This software is for trainees to practise operations in extreme scenarios that would be unsafe for them in real life, such as in cases of major vessel movement, and to prepare for real-life emergency situations. For example, users can learn to navigate through critical situations such as crane faults, offering a level of safety prior to the advent of realistic simulations.