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2014 Innovation Awards: FM Global SimZone

FM Global

2014 Innovation Awards: FM Global SimZone


Pilots acquire and hone the skills they need with the help of flight simulators, and now risk management professionals can do the same thanks to the FM Global SimZone.

When it comes to mastering a specific skill set, there is no substitute for real-life experience. That tenet in-spired the concept behind and creation of the FM Global SimZone, a 12,000-square-foot state-of-the-art risk management training facility located in Norwood, Mass.

Inside the SimZone, FM Global clients experience and learn from replicated real-world property risks such as fires, ignitable liquid perils, equipment malfunctions, and construction and electrical hazards.

Karen Freedman, Providence, R.I.-based vice president and manager of enterprise learning for FM Global, said the core value of the SimZone is that it allows clients and engineers to experience property risk management training scenarios in a 3-D hands-on way that is not offered anywhere else — including FM Global's property loss prevention research and product testing facility in West Glocester, R.I.

“You can go in there and touch things that you can't touch at your own facility,” Ms. Freedman said. “Being able to take apart a fire pump, or see different roofing systems, or stand inside a transformer, or inside a boiler, allows you to see things you can't see in your own facility.”

Its offerings have resulted in the FM Global SimZone being named a 2014 Innovation Award winner by Business Insurance.

SimZone has several specialized laboratories, including: a construction assemblies lab, a steam and industrial heating lab, an electrical lab, an ignitable liquid lab, a fire pump room, a water supply testing and fire sprinkler wet lab, a sprinkler system riser lab and a property protection playground.

Since opening in 2013, more than 100 clients have been trained in the facility.

FM Global expects more than double that number of clients to sign up for training this year, Ms. Freedman said, as the SimZone currently has a client waiting list that is more than twice the size of its list last year.

In addition, FM Global trains 150 to 200 of its property risk engineers in the SimZone every year.

“There is only so much of the SimZone to go around, and we put (client and engineer students) into small groups of seven in order to keep the experience hands-on,” Ms. Freedman said.

Given the SimZone's success and popularity, Ms. Freedman said FM Global is looking into expanding the existing compound, which cost $5 million to build, and developing comparable facilities in other locations.

“We are strategizing and considering the benefits of having a similar facility in Asia, Latin America or in Europe,” Ms. Freedman said. “It would be a little different than the one in the U.S. because we would need to tailor it to be realistic for their specific needs.”

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