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Training meets technology with new Simulation Zone at Plantworx

Training meets technology with new Simulation Zone at Plantworx

Simulation technology as a training tool is a proven concept in various professional fields – for example F1 drivers, pilots and astronauts have already benefited from simulation-based training for many years.

It’s only recently that immersive technology has seen rapid growth within the construction sector. Advanced simulator development for construction site machinery is being implemented by many leading construction businesses, who are using leading edge technology simulation-based operator training, as a versatile and effective tool to train operators in a safe environment. The plant and machinery sectors are seeing great results with this new technology.

Plantworx, the UK’s largest working construction machinery exhibition in 2019, (11th -13th June at the East of England Arena, Peterborough) will host the UK’s first fully interactive construction Simulation Zone, which will promote virtual interactive training, in a fun and informal environment – which will highlight the very latest technology in construction and how it is changing the way we work.

The Simulation Zone at Plantworx will comprise six state-of the-art simulators which will replicate a ‘real working construction site’ – but in a virtual world. Each of the simulators will be linked and will represent an individual construction machine – an excavator, wheel loader, tower crane, dozer or an articulated dump truck – as examples. Visitors to the zone will be invited to work together on the simulators in the virtual world to complete tasks on a construction site. Spectators will be offered oculus rift headsets to join the virtual world as bystanders and offer encouragement and support to the participants!

Participants can expect to experience GPS machine control with the latest attachments. Also, height and slew restrictors and other highly advanced technologies which are being used in today’s construction processes. These simulator training methods have already been adopted by many large contractors – and training of this type was recently completed at Hinkley Point C where Dale Hawkins and his team trained 150 plant operators on Leica GPS and machine control.

A number of 80-inch screens and a huge event screen will project live feeds from the simulators and their operators, which will create a major visual and audible impact. All Plantworx visitors will be invited to participate. Immersive training experts, including founder member of UK Plant Operators and a pioneer of simulator training, Dale Hawkins, will be on hand to guide each participant through the virtual world of simulation technology. Companies and contractors who would like to investigate this type of training are also invited to experience what the zone has to offer. No previous experience is necessary!

The Plantworx team is anticipating that the ‘Simulation Zone’ will be one of the highlights of the show, located in the Indoor Arena. Sponsorship opportunities are available should Plantworx exhibitors wish to be involved.

Why use simulator training for operators? Dale Hawkins explains the processes and advantages.

Training plant operators is not an easy task – this is due several factors including the transportation costs and logistics of getting a large piece of construction kit to a safe environment to enable the training of a potential plant operator. Then there is the safety aspect of the process – where traditionally a training instructor would be hanging off the side of a moving machine offering instruction to the operator. The safety standards of today would not allow this, therefore the trainee operator is tasked with learning to use the controls in the cab unaided – this could be the most dangerous time of the training program – and could cause untold damage to both man and machine! Also, this method of training only offers a one on one training schedule which elevates the cost and availability of such a course.

These new innovations in simulation offer a very cost-effective safe classroom based training solution where we are able to bring multiple candidates in to a classroom and teach the basics to these operators so when they do get the chance to sit in the real machine they are already familiar with the controls of the machine making the training a much safer and a more speedy process, thus allowing more candidates to be trained in a shorter time frame and a lower cost.

GPS Machine Control Training

With simulation digital machine we are able to mount ‘real to life’ machinery attachments with in-cab controls to the simulator, this enables us to also bring large numbers of experienced operators in to a classroom and teach them the more technical side of plant operation – with a special focus on operator aids like GPS machine control, rail specification height and slew restriction and any other highly advanced technologies which are being used in today’s construction processes.

Operator Profiling

Plant operator profiling and efficiency training – this method can help the operator become more efficient in his/her daily work practices. An operator may have a lot of experience in operating heavy plant machinery, but he/she may not be efficient – which when calculated over a year – could cost the company a considerable amount in fuel and site wastage. We have used simulation to help teach these drivers how to become more efficient – for example how to set the machine up for a dig with minimum rotations of the machine – the shortest distances – making sure you use full buckets – planning of the site roads and haul routes. This is also extended to the site management team for the planning process when ordering plant machinery for the site.

On Track

Another reason we use simulation is there is a national short-fall of machinery operators in the UK, especially with major projects such as Hinkley Point C and HS2 using large numbers of operators. The plant machinery sectors are not pushed in the careers paths of school leavers, most are pushed towards well-known trades such as plumbing and engineering, when in fact there is more work and a very similar rate of pay to become a plant operators, we run a program called ‘On -Track’ where we take simulators into schools and encourage young people to try the machines and offer them information on routes to take if they would like a career path in construction. We also work with some major plant hire companies who offer apprenticeships.

Put the 11th, 12th, 13th June 2019 in your diary and we look forward to welcoming you all to East of England Arena and Events Centre, Peterborough for Plantworx and Railworx. If you are interested in sponsoring the Simulation Zone please get in contact with Louise Carney louise.murphy@plantworx.co.uk

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