Monday, September 13, 2010

Mining & Drilling Industry Relies On 3D Training Simulators

These days we are seeing more and more industries that require the use of heavy equipment and expensive consumables turn to 3D simulators when it comes to training employees. The Mining and Drilling Industry is no exception.

The July, 2010 issue of Drilling Contractor (the official magazine of the International Association of Drilling Contractors) featured an article discussing the major hazards present on offshore oil and gas structures, and how simulation-based training can be used to overcome these dangers.

Interestingly enough, the articles says that most fatal injuries that occur on offshore gas and oil rigs are due to the lifting of equipment. And while providing training simulators for operators to learn on is not new, providing multi-user 3D training simulations for entire crews to train on is. Using technology typically reserved for online video games, multi-user 3D training simulators allow organizations to train their employees on techniques and maneuvers that require a team to work together collaboratively.

Traditional training materials will always have their place, but more and more companies are turning to simulation technology to make sure their employees are receiving the highest possible level of training. In addition, the younger generations spend more and more time working with computers, on the internet, watching televisions, and using cell phones - to this so-called "Net Generation", traditional training materials may fail where newer technology solutions may succeed.

The article references a study done by Chief Learning Officer magazine that draws the following conclusion in regards to simulation-based learning:
"Simulation-based training was seen to have a positive effect and was recommended for ongoing or expanded use in every case. In equipment maintenance, for example, it was found that trainees achieved the same level of proficiency in nearly 60% less time. In truck driving, one hour in a simulator was found to be equivalent to four hours on the road, and operators used less fuel."
Luminant, the largest competitive power generation business in Texas, has a new training facility in East Texas that provides state-of-the-art training simulators to their employees to ensure the safe operation of critical mining equipment. From operating a dragline, to driving a hauler through a mine, the simulators allow operators to train for daily activities before ever putting lives, equipment, or materials at risk.

Luminant Simulator Video

The complexity and cost of modern mining equipment, demands highly skilled and well trained operators. Such operators are required to consistently achieve high production targets while maintaining exceptionally high levels of safety - individually challenging tasks, done simultaneously they become exponentially more difficult. This is where training simulators come in. 3D training simulators are well suited to provide year-round training of mining and drilling related tasks so that operators are as well prepared as possible.

To this end, The Northern Manitoba Mining Academy recently purchased a load haul dumper and an articulated dump truck simulator from ThoroughTec:
"Each simulator cab is a highly realistic replica of the actual equipment, allowing the student to fully familiarize themselves with the controls, instruments and operating procedures. Emergency procedures such as engine fires, tire blow-outs and brake failures can also be safely practiced over and over again on the simulator without fear of damaging equipment or endangering lives - impossible to execute in any other manner. Simulator trained operators are therefore better prepared to deal with these hazardous situations should they occur in the underground environment."
Just like the aviation industry, that is obsessed with safety and the bottom line, more and more industries rely on simulations to help them overcome the training challenges they face.

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