Crane mock-up helps Norfolk Naval Shipyard save time and money

The U.S. Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) has found a way to save time and money by having training employees learn on a crane mock-up before transiting to the real waterfront ones.

The mock-up is in use since July this year.

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.