Effective simulator training comes from a high degree of practical training transfer



Cathrine M. Steenberg, Head of Simulation and Information Technologies Department & Peter K. Sørensen, Head of Training, Ports & Human Factors Department, FORCE Technology, Lyngby, Denmark


As ship sizes increase and ships become more and more complex, the people involved in shipping have to develop their skills. FORCE Technology has more than 25 years of experience in providing advanced maritime training to the shipping industry, and their wide range of training courses targets experienced navigators and pilots as well as freshly graduated junior officers.

The effect of simulator training depends on the pedagogical methods, the accuracy of the ship models and the simulator set-up. The software used in the simulators is, of course, very important as it sets the level of realism experienced in the training exercises. FORCE Technology uses the in-house developed software SimFlex which is based on the most accurate mathematical model – the DEN-Mark1 model – within maritime simulation. Peter K. Sørensen, Head of the Training, Ports & Human Factors Department explains: “In the last 50 years, we have tested more or less every ship type and design in our towing tanks and wind tunnels. The data collected and accumulated from these tests is the backbone of our mathematical models. This means that the training performed in our simulators is very lifelike when it comes to maneuvering of the ships under all kinds of weather conditions. This is very important in relation to achieving as high a degree of practical training transfer as possible.”

The value of simulator training can be measured from the degree of training transfer the participants experience. However, the degree of training transfer is not just about making the training as realistic as possible. At FORCE Technology, the degree of training transfer is boosted through a continuously refined approach based on pedagogical learning principles and structured debriefing sessions.

Together with the simulator instructors’ competences, the pedagogical approach is the most important non-technical factor in achieving a high degree of training transfer. At FORCE Technology, they have been engaged in development of simulatorbased training methods for many years, and their methods are now internationally recognized and used in other domains using simulators, for example air traffic controllers and power station operators. The pedagogical methods are primarily based on participant logical methods and discovery learning. All aspects of the course planning, scenario development and debriefing sessions follow structured and carefully planned methods.

The world-leading towing and salvage company Svitzer has been using FORCE Technology’s training facilities for years, and today Svitzer owns five portable simulators manufactured at FORCE Technology. Christer Green, Marine Manager, Svitzer Scandinavia, told the Swedish Shipping Gazette: “Since we started sending our mariners on simulator training, we have shortened the training program by six months.”

Rotor tugs

Beside the pedagogical principles used in training and debriefing, an important part of FORCE Technology’s success within maritime training is to be found in their in-house access to advanced test facilities, including towing tanks and wind tunnels, as well as professional mariners, psychologists and naval architects.

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