Putting simulation at the centre of operator training

Simlog trains users to operate excavators and other equipment.

The mining industry’s prospects are heavily reliant on the people that move it forward. Bestech supplies heavy equipment simulators that help mining companies fulfil their hiring and training needs to keep moving. 

There are more than 100 mining projects with completed feasibility studies in Australia. These projects combined will potentially create more than 22,000 jobs for equipment operators. 

Given that employees are regarded a company’s best long-term assets, the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) believes it is important to prop them up with modern training without compromising safety and efficiency. 

In fact, the industry body views training as one of its priorities for 2021 and beyond.

This reflects a change in the mining sector, as well as evolving industry and employee expectations of mining roles, according to the MCA.

“The industry recognises that a diverse workforce demands flexible training and education options and invests millions of dollars every year to equip employees with the skills they need for a fulfilling career,” the MCA states in its policy agenda Advantage Australia, released in February.

“From graduate programs to retraining for older workers, the industry turns regularly to local training that supports education providers in the regions.”

As a local supplier of technical teaching equipment, Bestech Australia recognises the challenge that the industry faces in hiring and training the right candidates. 

The company has extensive experience in supporting local universities, technical and further education (TAFEs), and registered training organisations’ (RTOs) industry-based learning program with high-end training aids and simulators.

Bestech product specialist Graeme Nicholls says that a wide variation in technical aptitudes, including psycho-motor, sensory/perceptual and cognitive abilities, exists in candidate hiring pools. 

“The candidates who possess the suitable technical aptitudes are expected to complete the training in a shorter amount of time and possess higher skill levels at the end of their training program,” Nicholls tells Australian Mining.  

“Therefore, by choosing to train the candidates with the right aptitudes, they will become genuinely proficient in operating the equipment once they completed the training.” 

Simlog personal simulators are great training aids that address workforce shortages and produce skilled heavy equipment operators. 

It is a PC-based simulator that connects students in the classroom to the virtual working environment as they develop new skills and learn the correct and safety-conscious habits. 

Bestech has supplied the Simlog equipment simulator to multiple TAFEs and RTOs across Australia and New Zealand.

Globally, Simlog has gained a reputation for its success in equipping people with relevant skillsets, including universities or TAFE students and residents of correctional facilities.

A career and technology centre in South Carolina in the United States, for example, has set up a lab with multi-purpose simulators, including for backhoe loaders, hydraulic excavators, bulldozers and wheel-loaders.

The Simlog simulator comprises a simulation chair, manual joystick and display monitor.

This is part of a course that develops career-ready graduates and reduces the local industry’s training cost.

“Instructors, who have used Simlog simulator as a learning tool to teach their students, have reported the simplicity in evaluating the technical aptitudes and performance of each students through the simulation manager,” Nicholls says. 

“This enables them to train more students at a significantly lower cost and improve the standard of their teaching.”

The simulator set-up only comprises a simulation chair, manual joystick and display monitor. 

They are designed to work together to deliver a modernised yet streamlined training. 

A Simlog skid steer loader simulator, for instance, features vertical or radial lift path types and two skid steer loader combinations. 

The skid steer loader can be equipped with either buckets or forks to simulate real-world equipment.

On the other hand, a Simlog hydraulic excavator simulator features an articulated dump truck in a dynamic terrain with life-like materials. 

This is designed to provide students with real-world experience and teach them how to operate the equipment safely in the field. 

All Simlog simulators impart real-world operator skills, from basic to advanced levels, while drawing upon real-world equipment functionality.

The importance of training and retraining employees boils down to maintaining the highest level of safety for all employees on site. 

An on-site accident, however minor it is, can instigate an operational shutdown to allow for a thorough safety audit and accident investigation. 

“All these actions will hamper the mining operation,” Nicholls says. “Therefore, heavy equipment operators must be proficient and qualified in operating the equipment properly and in a safe manner. The Simlog simulator can train operators with the right technique to operate the equipment.

“It is also a great, entry-level training simulator that can test whether a candidate is fit to be trained as an equipment operator before putting them on the real equipment.

“For experienced operators, the simulators can be used for verifying and renewing their skills, as well as learning new techniques to meet higher standards.”

Students can learn and complete the course at their own pace without any supervision, thanks to an in-built performance indicator that measures their performance. 

The performance indicators provide precise measurements such as execution time, loading accuracy, driving speed and maximum tilt angle, while climbing or descending and more. 

“Mining is a high-risk industry and they care about production and operational efficiency above all costs. Simlog’s heavy vehicle simulators can offer affordable, cost-effective training with the flexibility to train users across many different equipment,” Nicholls says.  

This article also appears in the April issue of Australian Mining.

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