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Crane Hot Line

Best Heavy Equipment Simulators Give Operator the Feel of Real

Oct. 22, 2020 - If you’re looking to optimize your operator training by investing in heavy equipment simulators, it’s important to remember that not all simulation is created equal, says Mala Dewan, product marketing manager for CM Labs, a simulator manufacturer in Montreal, Quebec.

Dewan says that most experienced operators say that when they work a piece of equipment, it becomes an extension of themselves. That gives them the ability to identify which brand they’re sitting in simply from the sound of the engine or by the seat of their pants.

Whether in lifting or earthmoving equipment, responding to machine feedback is important to maximizing its capabilities and, in many cases, saving time and money.

Learning techniques like leveraging the momentum of swing to move loads faster when operating a crane or using the inertia of a wheel loader to fill the bucket quicker by increasing its cutting force are skills that can’t be taught unless they are felt.

Until now, that was possible only on the real equipment, where the outcome of doing it wrong can be costly and dangerous.

Now, CM Labs’ Smart Training Technology lets trainees experience the same machine behavior on a Vortex simulator, says Dewan.

CM Labs Smart Training Technology

Smart Training Technology uses CM Labs’ proprietary and patented software. It delivers  simulations that have been engineered through modeling and reproduction of real machine data, from hydraulic systems, to engine behavior, and machine sounds. Its accuracy is backed by more than 20,000 automated daily tests and ongoing research and development.

Through Smart Training Technology, Vortex simulators capture the relationship between all machine parts and ensure that the reactions mirror those of the actual equipment. Everything from the bucket of the excavator digging through the dirt, to the backhoe’s backlash effect, the slipping of the dozer’s tracks, the traction of the wheel loader’s tires and the deflection of the crane’s boom, are precisely replicated to provide the most realistic experience – all of which has been field-tested by subject matter experts like operating engineers and major OEMs.

This means that CM Labs’ OEM partners confirm that Vortex simulators accurately reflect the feel and behavior of their own equipment. In fact, the software behind Smart Training Technology is used by various OEMs to design and create real equipment.

Smart Training Technology lets trainees operate in challenging environments where the physical reaction of the simulator allows them to explore the capacity and limits of the equipment.

It also enables them to safely run through scenarios like critical lifts that are potentially life-altering in the real world.

Put simply, it’s what differentiates great simulation from outdated game-based simulation. It’s also what accelerates the learning curve, builds operator confidence, and avoids negative training. It ultimately results in the most transferable operator skills, outside of the real equipment.

Real Clients, Real Results

From large construction companies to small and large training schools, the results speak for themselves, says Dewan. Clients who have opted for CM Labs Vortex simulators have experienced significant savings, increased productivity, higher classroom engagement rates and stronger more confident operators, she says.

According to Dewan, when Conewago Enterprises starting using a Vortex simulator for crane operator training, it was able to cut training costs by about $30,000 per operator. What’s more, a reduction in excavator cycle times produced savings ranging from $13,000 to $40,000 per project.

Dewan says that Crane Industry Services found that one hour on a Vortex simulator was equivalent to almost 4 hours on a crane while facilitating classroom instruction by providing tangible situations to analyze with trainees.

Dewan also says that when lead instructor, Gary James, at Next Gen Equipment Training sat on a Vortex simulator for the first time, he was “blown away by the realism.” James took his experience one step further by demonstrating the simulator’s unique capabilities as he filled a dump truck blindfolded using the excavator training pack.

According to the National Skills Coalition, jobs in sectors like construction and manufacturing account for 53% of the U.S. labor market overall, yet only 43% of workers are sufficiently trained. Implementing the right simulation in your heavy equipment training means focusing on skills-based training that can build a resilient workforce and ensure both breadth and depth of experience, says Dewan.


Crane Hot Line is part of the Catalyst Communications Network publication family.