Image Caption: ABP team (Second from the the left – Connor Lyons, ABP Technology Innovation Business Partner and third from the left – Claire Screen, ABP Head of Commercial development (Unitised Freight), collecting the ‘Innovation in Port Safety’ Award.
Associated British Ports (ABP), the UK’s largest ports group, has won the ‘Innovation in Port Safety’ Award at Multimodal 2023 for the development of a bespoke Virtual Reality (VR) health and safety training course to upskill its workforce.
Set in a simulated port environment, the training incorporates different scenarios, including working at height and navigating the port estate and offices safely. Based on cross-regional and functional elements, the design focuses on the highest risks and widest outreach situations. It was created in collaboration with ABP’s in-house training provider, the ‘ABP Academy’, which aims to equip colleagues with the skills to build the Ports of the Future.
Kerry Thompson, Head of ABP Academy, commented: “We know that using VR in training makes learning around four times faster than in traditional, class-based methods, with participants being more focused than in e-learning scenarios and almost three times more confident to apply what they have learned after training.
“We have already had fantastic feedback from colleagues who are enjoying using this technology to learn about health and safety. It is clear that this is a powerful tool to help us enhance employee engagement and performance as well as identify future training gaps.”
ABP has built and owns this technology, which means it has the ability to unlock multiple uses, beyond VR application, including simulation modelling for operations and virtual port tours and experiences.
Connor Lyons, ABP Technology Innovation Business Partner, who led the development of the VR course, added: “ABP has built and owns the IP of its VR module elements, which means it has the ability to easily and cost effectively unlock multiple use cases, laying the groundwork for a port metaverse, which could be used by all port users and customers.”
“In future, there is scope to expand the training so that it covers the use of port equipment, which alongside being effective at training, will increase efficiency and positively target our carbon impact by reducing the need for employee travel and for equipment to be taken out of service for training."
A demonstration of the VR safety training experience was available to visitors at ABP’s stand at the Multimodal Trade Show in Birmingham on the 13th June, as company trainers were on site to offer advice on how to navigate a virtual Port of the Future safely.
Saheed Onisemo, ABP HSE Trainer, who delivered the demonstration, commented: “It is great that we were able to give guests at our stand an insight into what learning within a 360 degrees virtual port is like.”
“Whilst any decisions made in this virtual environment do not have real life consequences, participants do experience deeper learning results due to the realistic nature of the training, which helps them apply their knowledge to the real world more effectively.”
By investing in the latest digital technologies, ABP aims to create a great place to work and build the Ports of the Future, where employees can develop their skills and work at the cutting-edge of the ports industry.
As part of its commitment to digital innovation technologies, in July 2022, ABP became the first UK ports group to trial innovative wearable safety devices designed by Rombit. The devices, which are worn on the wrist, arm or ankle, and attached to machinery, have a wide range of uses including lone worker support, collision avoidance and evacuation in case of emergency. This follows ABP’s forward-thinking investment in digitalisation in 2021, when the Port of Southampton became the first British port to install a private 5G network.
More recently, in June 2023, ABP announced the rollout of a £1.5 million programme to digitalise asset management across its network of 21 ports and improve the reliability and sustainability of port operations. Providing access to enhanced information visibility in real time and instant access to stock records, this solution helps inform business decisions and support the delivery of ABP’s net zero sustainability strategy, ‘Ready for Tomorrow’.
Find out more about the wealth of career opportunities available at ABP’s Ports of the Future, all rooted in a culture that welcomes diversity, fosters talent, encourages internal movement and progression, and places safety first: Associated British Ports Careers (abports.co.uk)