By Katherine Scott, editorial coordinator
As a result of increased rig activity in the Gulf of Mexico, Aker Solutions has recently added a dome simulator and three classrooms to its training facility in Katy, Texas. The 9,800-sq-ft facility has now doubled its training capacity to accommodate 75 trainees and continues to enhance Aker Solutions’ objective to provide after-market support with services such as classroom training, e-learning and rig-specific training. The center offers courses on hydraulic systems, DAT, electrics and HMI, and has already trained approximately 1,800 workers.
Newbuilds into the Gulf of Mexico really increased in 2011, said Scotty Hughlett, senior director of Drilling Lifecycle Services for Aker Solutions. To keep up with the amount of growth, Aker Solutions saw the need to make investments in its facility that caters to the North American market, he said.
The 240°-domed simulator recreates learning to specific rigs, from the equipment onboard to an imitation driller’s cabin with a replica of a driller’s chair. “It’s the exact same program as on a rig, so all the movements, the timing – everything is identical. It’s the best training you can get,” Mr Hughlett said.
A dome-shaped screen combined with utilization of actual drilling control systems software creates a realistic environment that mirrors what is experienced on a rig. The simulator can run virtual programs of specific rigs, including all rig equipment and control systems, thus enhancing detailed training and operational planning. Training can be geared toward both new-hires and veterans and generally takes about two weeks, depending on the specialized training that is requested.
Not just built for training, the simulator can also test equipment in rig designs and upgrades. “One of the benefits for safety issues, as well, is we can test all modifications and changes (to a rig) in the simulator, prior to going offshore,” Mr Hughlett said.
Fifty-two individual computer servers make up the simulator control system, which allows the simulator to run two drilling rig simulator systems at the same time. A manual switchover solution enables quick change of the rig configuration in the simulator.
The simulator became available to rig operators early 2012. Aker Solutions invested $2.5 million in the drilling equipment simulator, which joins a flat-screen simulator the company added to the facility in 2009. The simulator is available for North American-based rig operators and oil companies.
Aker Solutions has other major training hubs in Norway, Singapore and Brazil, which all have similar overall designs in consideration of a global crew. “The fact that we have a similar set-up makes it easier,” said Ivar Simensen, vice president of communications for Aker Solutions. “There’s no confusion if you come to a training center at Aker Solutions in one part of the world or the other.”