|Fleet Services Director, Bernie Trahan (left) & Ryan Jestin, Roads Director (right) take turns driving on the new grader simulator.|
The virtual has become the practical now that The City’s Transportation Department has a new training tool for heavy equipment operators.
The recent purchase of a Cat M series grader simulator makes training for this 25 metric tonne piece of equipment as easy as playing a video game.
The idea for simulators for training is slowly gaining traction in City business units. Previously, Calgary Transit brought a C-Train simulator for training staff and this grader simulator is an extension of that experiment.
Two business units collaborated to acquire this technology explains Bernie Trahan, Director of Fleet Services, “I think it was just our safety and training folks talking to the training staff in Roads and looking at some potential improvements in the way we were doing our business.”
The simulator allows an operator to learn in a safe, no fault environment, receiving instruction on safety, inspections and operations processes through the e-learning component while also receiving hands-on experience with the controls of the machine.
The benefits are clear to Ryan Jestin, Director of Roads.”It gets the operator extremely comfortable before they actually go and start using the equipment, we save on equipment usage, we save on gas and the big thing is it’s now very safe when the driver actually starts to use the grader.”
The training process has changed drastically. Previously, an instructor would have to cram into the cab with the operator and that scenario creates too many risks while impeding a comfortable learning environment for the trainee. The new system has the trainee in a classroom setting receiving instruction in computer modules that track and record learning success and areas where further instruction is required.
Vehicle and Equipment trainer, Leonard Ell has noticed a difference in the training process. “They’re excited to get on it [the simulator] and play around. Usually, at the end of the day we have to throw them off the machine and tell them to go home... it’s a good thing.”
The novelty of a simulator provides excitement for learning while keeping maintenance and fuel costs down, increasing curriculum consistency and reducing the environmental impact of training. It also keeps a machine in the field which improves productivity for the department. The potential for more simulators is currently being explored and could produce more cost effective training in the years to come.