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The Benefits of Training Operators Using Construction Equipment Simulators

Construction equipment simulators offer benefits to the construction industry such as cost effectiveness, efficiency, and overall contribute to safer worksite.

Modern tools for construction operator skills development include the Vortex range of simulators from CM Labs. These construction operator training simulators offer advanced and accessible technology for companies wanting to maximise the impact of training while keeping costs under control.

Training is becoming an increasingly pressing issue in the construction industry, leading to an ongoing skills shortage. Filling the gaps by recruiting and retaining a fresh generation of talent is proving challenging and costly.

In 2018, the construction sector contributed £117 billion to the UK economy and there are over 2.4 million jobs in the sector. The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has estimated that the industry needs some 230,000 new skilled workers to meet the demands for housing and infrastructure projects.

Besides recruitment, the costs of on-the-job training in the construction industry are greatly increasing. The costs related to construction operator training include:

• Equipment costs
• Wear and tear and maintenance
• Fuel
• Downtime
• Injury and compensation

However, advanced construction equipment simulators offer clear benefits compared to traditional training techniques:

• Minimised risk
• Safety
• Faster training
• Reduced costs
• Skills development

Tools for Construction Operator Skills Development

Our partner CM Labs have developed its Vortex range of professional-grade simulators to meet the evolving training needs of the construction industry which includes:

• Vortex Edge Plus – a desktop simulator, providing a portable means of delivering comprehensive simulation training wherever the location.

• Vortex Edge Max – an entry level simulation solution, with heavy duty controls, and includes full catalogues for training on different types of cranes and earth movers.

• Vortex Advantage – an advanced simulator with a full-field view and a dynamic motion platform, with the option of up to five screens for specialised training in heavy equipment such as bulk handling cranes.

These simulators offer safe, cost-effective, environmentally friendly and comprehensive Heavy Equipment Operator (HEO) training.

Minimising Risk in Construction Equipment Training

Typically, in a construction setting, learning is done on the job, on properly functioning heavy machinery and other construction equipment.

Even in training colleges, training mainly relied on actual heavy machinery.

However, this method of training is not without risks.

There is the potential for workplace safety issues, which we will come to later on.

But there are also risks to the equipment itself, when new trainees are operating it. And there are economic risks to the companies carrying out their in-house training.

Basically, on-the-job training is going to be taking up resources which could be used elsewhere. This includes both equipment and manpower.

Taking these resources into account, the training itself is also a potential risk, as an investment, should the trainee either fail to complete it, fail to make the grade, or even leave the business before it can recoup its investment from their labour.

At the same time, there is a risk in not providing adequate training, because many construction companies are struggling to recruit and retain talented employees. Training will be seen by many prospective employees as an essential benefit when choosing careers.

Training ought to be an attractive part of a recruitment package, but how can construction companies and vocational training organisations ensure it will be as risk-free as possible?

Simulation provides the answer. It immerses heavy equipment operators into a safe and challenging virtual environment that reproduces the real life conditions of the worksite. This reduce risks to trainee operators, and the equipment.

The construction simulators also offers a high degree of flexibility in the training process, making it more attractive to potential recruits and those employees wishing to develop their skills.

Simulation and Safety-First Approach

Health and safety is a concern across all industries, but it’s of particular importance within the construction industry. Due to the nature of construction jobs, working on construction sites can be dangerous.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) emphasises employers must provide adequate training to all people operating equipment at the workplace, to ensure health and safety in its use, supervision or management.

However, with traditional on-the-job training on heavy machinery and other construction equipment, there is an element of risk to safety during the actual training process.

Consequently, one of the hidden costs that can come with construction equipment training is injury, possibly resulting in a personal injury compensation claim.

As with risks to the equipment being used, inexperience poses a challenge.

Using simulators can, therefore, ensure a safe environment during training sessions.

It enables the trainee to take a self-learning approach that develops the core skills necessary without involving any personal safety issues or being any kind of danger to others.

Faster Training for Construction

One of the benefits of maximising learning effectiveness in construction operator training is how simulators can accelerate the learning process of trainees in the construction businesses.

Along with reduced accident rates, construction businesses are training faster with simulators due to various reasons:

• Training is not limited to one-to-one engagement, so a single trainer might train several people at once.

• Trainees can have more time in the training seat with a simulator, and they are not subject to outdoor conditions, so they can train any time.

• Simulation is an immersive form of training, enabling rapid learning through repetition without risk.

• With regular, follow-up reviews and measurement of student performance, simulation provides a collaborative and supportive training environment.

• The performance of the trainees is objectively assessed and analysed to identify the gaps in their skill growth.

Traditional training on construction equipment is costly in terms of time and resources. Simulation based training on heavy machinery enables companies to cut down on both, while upping their training rate.

Having an always-available resource enables training institutions and colleges to cut down on programme length, helping them maximise their ROI.

From case studies, a reported benefit of simulators in construction equipment training is that they can make training between 40% and 70% faster.

Reduced Costs

An exclusive focus on construction equipment training using physical equipment in the field can mean extensive costs to construction companies and training facilities.

At base level, direct training on dedicated cranes, excavators and other heavy machinery bears inherent costs in maintenance, fuel and wear and tear.

For colleges and training facilities, purchasing or renting specialised construction equipment is a considerable expense.

For construction companies providing on the job training, any equipment they dedicate to this task they are then diverting from core business functions. Alongside experienced operators.

Therefore, there are productivity costs associated with training too.

As we have already seen, health and safety issues to do with on-the-job training can bring their own expenses, should trainees be injured during practical training exercises.

Simulators are cost-effective training tools, because they enable companies to separate their training requirements from their core business needs.

Simulators make it simple and affordable for vocational training schools to leverage the latest in innovative technology for operator skills development.

The Vortex Series of simulators enables trainees to familiarise themselves thoroughly with the skills they will require to operate construction equipment before they actually train on the equipment itself. This cuts down on their on-the-job training time, and on the costs associated with it such as fuel and equipment maintenance.

Companies and training organisations adopting simulation methods can measure their ROI by comparing the costs that training would typically raise through the dedicated use of on-site heavy construction equipment.

Skills Development from Simulation

Simulators for construction operator training provides an immersive training environment that supports operator skill development.

They offer opportunities for rapid real-world learning across a range of skills and qualifications, including Level 1 Skills Award in Simulated Plant Operations by NOCN.

This diploma is the gateway for entry into the world of construction, with an emphasis on students getting a good grounding in practical skills they can then develop and extend further.

Other training exercises include:

• Slinger/signaller and banksman training
• Earth moving equipment training
• Lifting equipment training
• Construction health and safety training

The Vortex Edge Max simulator, for example, includes a comprehensive fleet of cranes and earthmovers, with controls designed to run a total of 10 different machines on one simulator. The visuals and exercises simulates actual, real world site conditions.

The Vortex Edge Max offers complete Heavy Equipment Operator (HEO) training combined with entry-level accessibility and ease of installation with state-of-the-art simulation technology to create rigorous training programmes.

Opportunities for collaborative learning using simulation include crew training by connecting and running programmes together with other simulators.

Why Choose Simulation Based Training?

Recruiting the next generation of skilled construction professionals means finding ways to appeal to people who are familiar with technology and who want to learn rapidly and effectively.

Construction equipment training simulators can provide new techniques in training that can help to modernise the image of the industry as a whole.

These simulation-based training also come with significant cost-saving benefits, offering a clear ROI to the construction businesses and vocational training schools that adopt these techniques.

Training on a construction simulator is a realistic experience, whether it is a mobile crane simulator, excavator simulator, forklift simulator or other type of construction equipment.

In-class training cuts down on fuel costs, operator training costs and maintenance issues with real world heavy equipment. It also provides a greater degree of flexibility for trainees, enabling them to spend concentrated periods of time honing their skills using realistic simulation-based training.

For more information about Vortex construction equipment training simulators or to experience how it really feels to work with a crane, excavator or dozer on a simulator, please get in touch with us.

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