Dr. Jeffrey Hawkins: Pivot Maritime International
Cutting edge technology and a strong vision for the future sets this maritime simulation, training and consultancy company apart
Pivot Maritime International has global reach from its headquarters on a riverbank in Tasmania. At Pivot, a person can be standing in northern Tasmania while concurrently in virtual command of a vessel on the Yarra River.
Founder and managing director, Dr. Jeffrey Hawkins, is originally from New Zealand but has called Legana home since 1986. Hawkins initially worked at the Australian Maritime College (AMC) in Launceston. While he was there, he identified the potential to build simulators for maritime training locally, believing that they could provide greater accuracy than the imported products that were used at the time. He teamed up with three other AMC colleagues in 1996 and so Pivot became a reality.
There are three core areas to the Pivot enterprise. The first is Simulation Technology – a focus that positions Pivot as the world pioneers of portable maritime training and cost-effective portable simulation. Their simulators are used by navigators in many settings, from naval vessels to cargo ships to cruise liners. Secondly, they are recognised leaders in Maritime Training, offering courses that are accredited and recognised internationally. The third arm is their Maritime Consultancy, an area that ranges from clients seeking analysis of future trends to those navigating ports with a new fleet of vessels.
Pivot’s simulator products are used in the defence, commercial shipping and recreational boating sectors. At a fraction of the cost of standard simulators, clients can use portable simulators for training, assessment, research and more. From desk top versions to full mission simulators, there are currently 10 different models.
“We saw our future in the development of highly portable systems,” says Hawkins. “The maritime industry involves constant movement and travel, so it made sense for our simulators to be transportable. There was no reason why we couldn’t be based here and get out into the world to show them what we have, and equally draw people from all over the world.”
Each simulator performs tasks with mathematical precision and allows hands to grip real ship controls. With a touch of a button, a trainer can fail one engine, whip up a catastrophic storm or turn day to night. From chairs that vibrate with ‘changing conditions’ to virtual reality glasses and 3D screens, Pivot utilises cutting edge technology to bring reality to the simulated experience.
Pivot have teamed up with world leaders like Furuno Electric, to integrate the Japanese company’s navigation equipment into their simulator. These relationships cement Pivot as a global innovator in the maritime sector.
“We are very fortunate to operate out of Tasmania, a place with such a strong maritime industry,” explains Hawkins. “We are committed to Tasmania and we’d like to help build a vibrant maritime cluster here where we can share resources and develop together. We already have some very unique and world class offerings. Businesses like Incat, Liferaft Systems Australia, and CBG are competing on an international level from right here.”
Pivot continues to work closely with AMC as well as other education providers including the University of Melbourne, where they are currently investigating wave science.
“Apart from our Melbourne showroom and an office in Italy, all of our staff are Tasmanian based.”
“We have staff in Legana communicating with staff in France, and monitoring Samoan operations, while talking with another in Melbourne doing R&D [research and development] on our visual systems. They’re all networked through our virtual programs.”
“We try to attract people who want to come to Tasmania for the lifestyle. The cost of living here is 25-30 per cent less than elsewhere in Australia with the same wages.”
“It’s a specialised field so it can be challenging to find skilled workers. We need computer programmers, 3D modellers, mechanical engineers, structural engineers and mariners. Recently we’ve been engaging with the University [of Tasmania] and AMC to provide work experience to young naval architects,” adds Hawkins.
“We aim to take simulation to the next level. We’ve managed to make some big moves. We were able to make the first commercial portable simulation product. We’ve engineered a simulator that uses real equipment and is fed real equipment data. The next big jump we’ll be making is to the visual system as we move toward the world’s first holographic displays. This will allow for a full 360-degree, immersive experience. It’s an exciting time to be in this field.”
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Find out more about Pivot Maritime International.
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