Simulation is a training methodology to train and teach students the correct method to drive and operate heavy equipment. It is a safe training method with minimum risk to their surroundings and incurs low-cost and maintenance in the long-run. Therefore, many companies and training organization have started to consider for computer-based simulators as part of their training and teaching curriculum.
A simulation-based training requires the use of basic computer software to model a real-world scenario. Simulator training enables the learner to face real-life challenges and train them to react correctly should the event actually occur in real environment. A good training simulator combines technology with rich graphics and realistic controls that give the operator the actual feel of operating a real-machine. This allows them to get familiar with operating the equipment. As the technology advances, more realistic graphics and superior load dynamics have been developed.
Let’s discuss some of the benefits of using simulation-based training methodology in training operators for heavy equipment in more details.
Operating heavy equipment are high risk tasks even when the operators are fully-trained and competent. Small mistakes may lead to catastrophic incidents that may sometimes be fatal and halt the operation. A training simulator can train the students with a correct method to operate the equipment. Trainees can also experience complex operation such as load shifting, unsafe lifts in a real-time. The simulator also allows the trainees to practice the correct method to act on when the unexpected occurs. Using a real equipment to train incompetent trainees is like a time-bomb that await major incidents to occur.
Before exposing trainees to operate the actual equipment, simulators can be used to screen trainees and make sure that they are capable of handling the real equipment on site. The training simulators also allow organisations to track the progress of their trainees to keep a check on their performances and detect any skill deficit that may cause hurdle on the work site. With simulator training, trainers can provide trainees with immediate feedback about their efficacy and show them the correct use of the platform and effective guidelines.
Operating heavy equipment requires operators to have dexterity and technical aptitude. This often is an inherent skill that determines whether the operators are competent or not. The simulators can be used as initial assessment tools to pre-screen which operators to be accepted into the training program. If the operators pass the test, they are believed to possess sufficient technical aptitude to pass the competency test and operate the real equipment.
Training operators has become faster with the entry of simulators in industries. One reason for this is the ability of an instructor to take multiple trainees in one go, which is not possible in case of training with the real equipment. Irrespective of the weather conditions such as rain, snow, or humidity, training can continue to take place 24/7, without any halt. Simulation-based training also makes it possible to conduct group training sessions with all the simulator training machines working and coordinating at the same time in a constructive manner to encourage group attention and participation. Hence, trainees can learn with and from each other through observation and collaboration. All these features make the training process way faster than the traditional real-equipment training. Faster trainings also tend to bridge the skills gap that gets incurred due to slow and lengthy experience-gaining process in an organisation.
With real-like operation approach and hands-on experience, simulation training can dramatically reduce costs associated with the operator training. The fuel costs and the wear and tear on the expensive equipment are also reduced. In addition, having simulators in workspace lets the instructors focus on other significant tasks rather than having to give step-by-step training to the newcomers and the trainees to learn at their own pace. Companies can also use simulators as an operator benchmarking tool in order to have their operators exhibit increased productivity, and hence contributing to more profits.
As mentioned above, industries have started to use simulator-based training as part of their on-the-job-training process. For example, the aviation and defence sectors use simulators as tools to train their pilots or as assessment tools. In universities, they are widely used in engineering laboratory to demonstrate hard-to-understand engineering concepts to students. TAFE and Training organizations used simulators to train their students the correct operating methodology and as part of capstone assessment tools. The medical industry has also seen a remarkable growth with the advent of simulator-based training in the form of medical-teaching and learning.
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