Powerful Learning Applications for 3D Field Simulators

Most pre-teens and teenagers, and even many adults, will spend several hours each day playing fantasy roles in popular computer games, such as Hitman 3, Outriders, Grand Theft Auto and Tomb Raider. However, if one were to ask those ardent young gamers if they are familiar with 3D field simulators, most would probably insist they weren’t. In practice, the three-word phrase refers to the technology underlying those fascinating games that consume so much of their spare time. Interestingly, playing such games can be a surprisingly effective way to hone one’s reflexes, improve hand-eye coordination, and even learn new skills. These are the very reasons that this technology is now widely leveraged to create robust interactive learning programmes in numerous fields. 

One of the first training programmes to employ this concept was that used for pilot training. In this case, 3D field simulator software reproduces a pilot’s view of the air and ground, which varies according to how the trainee handles the controls of some costly hardware. From an airline’s viewpoint, the cost is incidental. The investment buys an effective and safe alternative to entrusting a multimillion-dollar jumbo or airbus and an instructor’s life to an inexperienced trainee. Such safety and financial concerns are equally valid in many other situations, creating numerous opportunities for this innovative form of training. 

Using suitable software, a developer can create three-dimensional representations of almost any real-world environment or process. However, the greatest strength of 3D field simulators is the added option for an observer to interact with such scenarios in real-time. One of the fields in which this technology is proving to be particularly effective is the power generation industry. For an employee at the controls of a 3,000 Megawatt power plant, a slow response or a minor mistake could see thousands of households and businesses without electricity, adding to the existing frustration of planned load shedding and brownouts. Let’s take a closer look at how this novel training technology is assisting the industry.

The Simulated Training Programme in Action

There are numerous areas in which 3D field simulators are helping to train the next generation of power plant operators and engineers. There is no compelling reason to abandon classroom instruction when acquainting learners with the theory of power generation.

However, the trainees’ practical skills will determine their performance at the coalface – knowing how to perform a task and not merely why. It is not always feasible to provide adequate instruction on the job, even for routine tasks. However, it is even more impractical to familiarise operators with emergency procedures in this fashion. Nevertheless, both aspects of training are crucial.

By contrast, 3D field simulators can recreate any scenario a trainer might require. For example, with this technology, one can emulate the physical layout of an entire plant that will allow a learner to experience the grand tour, identifying various systems and equipment en route while seated at a computer. Learners or instructors can pause the programmes to examine a system more closely or repeat a section to improve their understanding. In short, the concept could offer a labour-saving yet highly effective alternative to the traditional induction process.

Following the “walkabout”, it’s time to take the controls. 3D field simulators allow trainees to experience the step-by-step actions involved in routine operations such as startups and shutdowns. More importantly, these programmes can recreate those emergencies one hope will never happen but which require a split-second reaction should they occur. Of course, a learner can watch videos and discuss those scenarios with an instructor in detail and make extensive notes. However, muscle memory beats audio-visual memory every time. In the life-like situations made possible with 3D field simulators, a trainee can assume complete control and has the option to repeat an action as many times as necessary until it becomes a conditioned reflex. Naturally, mistakes are bound to occur, but these are merely part of the learning curve and have no consequences in the real world, just like a video game.

In practice, this technology is limited only by the imagination of the developer and the inherent capabilities of the software used. The award-winning 3D PACT suite features a user-friendly scenario and procedure builder that allows the developer to include tutorials and tests. If your company is engaged in power production, desalination, mining, marine operations or petrochemicals, why not chat to SimGenics about how 3D field simulators could simplify your training challenges.

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