Caterpillar is developing low cost and easy to use PC-based simulators for training entry-level operators.
The Virtual Training Systems, personal simulators and the accompanying training modules, are designed to orient and train inexperienced and prospective operators in basic machine operation and application skills.
The training curriculum progressively takes a trainee from basic control orientation through complex application tasks and can be used as a self-study tool or as part of a program led by an instructor.
The system for hydraulic excavators already is available and Caterpillar plans to introduce systems for off-highway trucks, wheel loaders, backhoe loaders and track-type tractors later this year. Systems for motor graders and skidsteer loaders are planned for 2007.
The system moves trainees through increasingly more difficult modules to help them build skills and it provides instant feedback to show where improvement is needed. Examples of feedback include time to perform task, accuracy of task and undesirable actions during the task. The trainee’s skills level can be measured, reported and compared to performance criteria so that competency weaknesses are identified quickly.
Caterpillar says the system provides all the benefits of simulator training without a high initial cost. Specifically, the system minimises the use of production machines for training and reduces exposure of trainees and instructors to hazards in the field.