Continuous Improvement: Heavy Mobile Equipment Training Simulators

Posted by on Feb 14, 2013 in Equipment, Favorites | 0 comments

Continuous Improvement: Heavy Mobile Equipment Training Simulators

If you ask around these days, almost every mid-level or bigger mining company has their own internal group for driving improvement projects (i.e. Operational Excellence, Continuous Improvement, Six Sigma, LEAN, Business Improvement, Business Process Framework, etc.). These groups are constantly evaluating new technologies or new processes in order to drive the trifecta: mine cheaper, mine more, and mine safer. Since a large emphasis of this blog is also to identify where these opportunities are, it is always motivating to see not only mining companies but also OEM/OTMs form their own continuous improvement group, as a value proposition to assist clients with using their product(s) effectively & efficiently.

Back in 2005, I had the opportunity to try out one of the earlier generations of Immersive Technologies’ truck simulator at the mine I was working at. Even at that point, they were able to model the terrain of your mine and use it to better train operators. I went through a session and must admit, came out a little nauseous! But one major issue that the simulator was able to identify was that during the simulations, an alarming number of operators did not know how to respond when a fire began on the truck. By knowing where your operators’ gaps are, you can better allocate training resources.

Last year in 2012, I had the opportunity again to bump into a few people from Immersive at a mine in Canada and they told me about their internal CIP (Continuous Improvement Projects) group which tracks clients’ performance before, during and after implementation of the simulator. They then use the data (remember – ample data is futile if it is not put to good use) to work with mine management and develop a targeted training program. This collaborative approach (which will, of course, cost you) is a step in the right direction because the OTM is building a strategy to ensure their products’ success through designing the downstream process for the client. Remember one of the biggest reasons for failure of a new technology product at a mine usually isn’t the product itself; it is the lack of culture adoption, proper ownership of the launch and failure to maintain the product. Immersive is also able to measure a baseline to determine your payback 6-12 months after implementing the simulator. And then go back and validate the training using maintenance records, machine events as recorded by the equipment’s data system, and dispatch data (as applicable).

Within the program with Immersive (you could request this program from different OTMs as well), they will complete the following:

  1. Assess the site using the simulator results
  2. Identify specific & strategy programs to address safety, cost and production opportunities
  3. Improve team communication
  4. Reduce the mine’s risk profile and improve operators’ competencies through a targeted program
  5. Develop reporting tools to provide site-wide visibility on improvements as the simulator and training occurs
  6. Provide accurate performance measurements & risk analysis

Items that they see a large decrease in (as measured by the mine’s fleet management system) include: over-speed, park brake abuse, brake temperature alarms, and abusive shifting. Just eliminating a large percentage of these events would likely pay for the system in less than a year!

Caterpillar also has a simulator that you could purchase which costs less than Immersive but has limited functionalities & capabilities (ie. at time of writing this blog, they cannot model the specific mine’s terrain on the simulator).

Happy Training! Oh and  Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Disclaimer: By focusing on specific OTM/OEM’s equipment and technology as examples, I am in no way endorsing one over any other OEM/OTM nor have I received any compensation at current time of writing for my blog entry from any OEM/OTM for this blogpost.