Bridging the Training Gap with SimulationWed, 10/18/2017 - 14:05
Q: What were the main achievements for Immersive Technologies’ business in Mexico in 2016?
A: The company grew by 50 percent and we are continuing to expand particularly in the underground sphere. In Mexico, we have traditionally focused on openpit operations due to our exclusive alliance with OEMs, including Komatsu, Hitachi and Caterpillar, but given the number of underground mines in Mexico we have launched more products designed for these projects.
We can now cover far-flung corners of the region with our larger simulator deployment capacity and we are constantly hiring more staff to provide a more complete service to our growing client base. Fortunately, our business is well-positioned because training services can benefit our clients in terms of productivity and efficiency regardless of commodity prices so the risk is mitigated.
Q: Has the company launched any new products recently?
A: During MINExpo in Las Vegas, we unveiled two new simulators: the PRO4 and the LX3. The LX3 combines the training capabilities of the original lite simulator with a new, modernized and more ergonomic design. Its layout and upgraded screens provide enhanced realism and expanded field of view. Its smaller footprint is ideal for machine and site familiarization, emergency response training and greater use of existing simulator modules at an affordable price. The PRO4 is the most advanced simulator on the market. It has been optimized for surface mining, with full HD resolution and a large, integrated, rear screen that provides the most realism on the market.
Q: What role do higher education facilities like universities have in preparing the next generation of mining professionals for the digital world?
A: We are working on a couple of projects that will be run jointly by the private sector and universities and this could be a vital step for the development of the sector in Mexico because a lot of experienced operators lack the skills required to operate heavy machinery in a safe and efficient manner. There is still no school that is focused on training new mine operators on safety protocol but tools like our simulators can help companies monitor operator performance and work toward correcting bad habits that affect efficiency.
Q: What is behind Immersive Technologies’ success in Mexico?
A: Mexico is a unique marketplace for Immersive Technologies. The company has been in operation for 23 years now but in many jurisdictions like Canada, the US and even Chile, our technology is well-established. In that sense, Mexico is not yet a mature market and so there is a lot of scope for growth because we offer something completely new. Many mining companies in Mexico are not fully aware of the benefits that our simulators can offer, so we have a very large potential client base to work with. We have always had strong relationships with Tier 1 companies and we are now expanding our reach to contractors and junior outfits.
The challenge we have is convincing new customers of the advantages of our technology. To overcome this issue, when we start working with a company we measure the performance of a mine site over a specific period of time and design a training program based on the results. We then take another performance measurement after the training program has been in place for a few months and in that way, we can measure our own impact. We are optimistic that our level of growth can be sustained and if everything goes well, we could reach 100 percent growth in Mexico by the end of 2018.