It’s easy to find manufacturers willing to sell you their equipment, but it’s oftentimes harder to find manufacturers willing to invest in a high-tech training facility that will provide long-term, in-depth training on their equipment. Aker Solutions did just that, however, opening a new training center in early February just outside Houston. The company hopes the facility will help to better support customers who are entering the Gulf of Mexico in the coming few years.
There’s a high demand for quality training in the industry, said Scotty Hughlett, Aker manager of drilling life cycle services USA. New people unfamiliar with the drilling industry are being brought in to staff the many offshore rigs under construction. And when they go to work, the equipment and technologies can be extremely complex.
The facility has two classrooms and one simulator room that houses a rig-specific simulator. This means students can train in realistic training environments that are set up to look exactly like the rig where the student will be working, down to specific pieces of equipment.
The simulator uses advanced software and high-quality animation technology to provide 3D visualization. CAD models are imported directly from engineering systems and connected to the actual control system, providing an innovative method to optimize the production and quality assurance of drilling equipment, according to Aker.
The simulator also can connect students to E-concept, live monitoring of equipment and operations onboard the rig. That is expected to help improve the company’s life cycle services.
The same simulator has been used in the company’s training centers in Singapore and Kristiansand, Norway, to help students gain the technical understanding they need of every piece of equipment on the rig.
And simulator-based training is not all their training does. According to Aker training manager Torleif Vollstad, Aker’s training concept consists of e-learning, classroom training, simulator and practical training. Topics they cover include equipment maintenance, operational safety, hydraulics, electrics, etc.
Besides customer training, the Texas facility will also be used for internal training for familiarization, troubleshooting, maintenance and operation. There are four instructors, and the first customer was Larsen Oil & Gas. Aker supplied the complete drilling package for PetroRig I, a semisubmersible scheduled to drill in the Gulf of Mexico deepwater under a five-year contract upon completion.
A fourth training center is being planned for Brazil, according to Aker.