PORTSMOUTH, Va (NNS) -- Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) began using a new crane mock-up in July that saves time and money by training employees to use waterfront cranes.
According to Roger Wandover, an electrician and Continuous Training and Development (CTD) subject matter expert who designed the mock-up, training employees on proper crane operations is a challenge because it requires taking them out of service for several hours or waiting until they are down for preventative maintenance.
Wandover and the CTD team wondered if it would be possible to develop a type of training that would give employees the opportunity to exercise and perfect the skills without actually being on the crane and interrupting work. And that's how the idea for a crane mock-up was born.
According to Crane Maintenance Division CTD Supervisor Bo Osindero, at one time understanding how to properly set the limits on a crane was a common skill in the shipyard, but as time passed and the shipyard's skills gap grew, qualified and experienced mechanics retired or moved on to other positions.
"I realized there were only three of us left who could actually set the limits, so that became a concern," said Osindero. "It really became like a single point of failure if one of these guys couldn't show up."
Then the light bulb came on. At first, Osindero and Wandover considered building a tabletop mock-up, but ultimately decided on a stand-alone unit.
"Everything was created by the Crane Maintenance Division (Code 730)," said Wandover. "We spent less than $2,000 on parts that we had to purchase."
The mock-up's frame is actually a surplus engine lift. All of the electrical components are pieces that were defective, removed from a crane and reconditioned. Everything that could be recycled was repurposed for the mock-up, which provides employees a realistic but safe-to-fail environment where they can learn to set limits.
The Crane Maintenance Division is developing its own training program to accelerate learning within the shop and ensure there are no further shortages of qualified personnel. The department finished all the functional testing the week of June 30, spent the month of July refining the program in order to craft the course material. Classes are slated to start in August.
Osindero is excited about the future for the division's mock-up and its brand new training program, and thanks to the CTD team's idea to use Plexiglas on the mock-up's panels, employees can see the internal mechanisms to better understand when certain actions trigger responses within the machine. The Crane Maintenance Division will also have some helpful new materials to supplement the hands-on training.
"The Shipyard Instructional Design Center (at NNSY) is creating audio/visual aids to go along with the mock-up, including charts and videos to streamline and shorten the process while making it more effective," said Osindero. "From experience, most people learn better through visualization, so that's one of the innovations that will really help us. When an employee comes in, they will be good to go within two days. It used to take a whole week."
Wandover's brainchild should be walking on its own two feet by the end of the month, so now he's ready to tackle the next project for Code 730 CTD.
"Communicating with supervisors on the waterfront to find out what they need and how we can enable them to do their job more effectively is so important," said Wandover. "We need to figure out the right way or the better way to do it. The entire exercise has been very rewarding. To develop this mock-up and see the fruits of our labor, it's obviously a benefit, and we want to do more of this in the future."
NNSY, a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command, is the oldest and largest industrial facility belonging to the U.S. Navy, and specializes in repairing, overhauling and modernizing ships and submarines.
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