Mariner training after COVID: Will online render ‘hands-on’ obsolete?

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An emerging trend before the pandemic, online training has now become a major element in maintaining and improving mariner skills almost everywhere — with consequences that so far seem to be mostly positive.

The trend has accelerated during the pandemic, which has forced enterprises to aggressively explore and rapidly adopt remote work and automation solutions to ensure the safety of workers and maintain consistent operations, said Dirck Schou, CEO and co-founder of Seattle-based Taqtile, which develops augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies.

“Especially in the maritime industry, organizations need solutions (that are) flexible enough to adapt to varied situations as they look to improve the resiliency of maintenance and training at remote locations,” Schou said. He said his company is seeing increased adoption of AR solutions that enable organizations to leverage the knowledge of their workforce experts and share it quickly and efficiently across teams of frontline workers handling complex machinery.

AR-based solutions can allow highly skilled workers to efficiently author step-by-step processes for use in any operational or training capacity aboard their ship, or on any other similarly equipped vessel around the world, Schou said. Other mariners can then follow the procedures to correct equipment issues, ensure configuration control, increase operational availability and improve readiness.

“These solutions are especially valuable for high-complexity maintenance tasks where procedures are long, error-prone, infrequent or require remote assistance,” Schou said. The AR solutions also provide a critical audit and evaluation tool when used during more routine tasks to ensure they are performed consistently and accurately, allowing workers to capture video and photos after key steps in procedures.