Near-to-live training for terminal planners: bridging the operational gap



Nikolaos Koumaniotis, Electrical and Computer Engineer; Dr Yvo Saanen, Managing Director and Founder of TBA; Menno Bruggeling, Consultant at TBA; Dr Csaba A. Boer, Senior Product Manager and Head of the Emulation Department, Delft, the Netherlands


Proficient use of a terminal operating system (TOS) for planning and equipment control is essential for the efficient and productive operation of container terminals. The degree to which a TOS is used effectively is highly reliant on human operators. The training of these operators is traditionally done through conventional and on-the-job training with a limited structure and a narrow scope. Besides, it heavily relies on the expertise of the on-the-job trainer(s). In this article, we report a systematic training approach we have applied in a number of cases to improve the skills of control room operators in various container terminals. The approach is supported by virtual terminal emulation and allows for accurate measuring of an operator’s performance.

The importance of training

Providing employees with appropriate training is becoming a matter of utmost importance due to the fact that organisational performance is totally dependent upon the performance of the organisation’s personnel. As a consequence, in order to achieve the targeted performance increase, the organisation should invest to improve its employee’s skills through training. The main objective of training operators with a TOS system is to achieve higher terminal productivity by giving operators hands-on knowledge and experience of using the system. This can be translated into the improvement of decision making and the planning skills of individual operators. However, the main challenge is to train the operators to make the correct decisions in real, high-pressure operations.To achieve this, we propose the use of ‘serious game’ training in a virtual reality arena. Not only is this more effective and efficient than traditional training, it’s also much safer.

Issues with traditional training

Designing a good training system is a challenging task for even the most talented educators. Traditional training usually consists of lectures and book studies, or a combination of the two. Despite its popularity, the traditional method of training cannot show the holistic complexity of a real TOS at work as it focuses only on isolated learning points. Given this static approach, there are obvious limitations in effectively training staff for the complex environment that operators encounter on a daily basis.

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