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Analysis

Mining Simulators Reach High Level of Versatility

Wed, 10/21/2015 - 13:52

Statistics show that training is one of the most consistently worthwhile techniques for preventing occupational hazards. According to e-Tech Simulation, a leading simulator manufacturer, 87.5% of accidents are caused by human factors, while the remaining 23.5% are down to machinery failure. 36% of accidents in the first category were caused directly by the machine’s operator due to failures in understanding, reaction time, perception, and decision making. This allows simulators to become highly useful tools for imparting necessary mining safety skills without increasing unnecessary risks to the mine site operations.

There are a number of modules and elements within a simulation system, including physical replications of actual equipment, and the more back-end aspects of software and instructor monitoring stations. The Dynamic Simulation Subsystem is a set of scientific applications which calculates the status of the simulated equipment through a mathematical model. These algorithms determine the characteristics of the simulation as well as monitor the operator’s actions. The Instructional Design module includes a set of exercises that have been programmed into the simulator’s software, giving the trainees and the instructors a basis from which to work from. Finally, the instructor stations allow trainers to manage the software as well as produce performance reports and monitor the trainees’ activities during the exercises. From a physical perspective, the control systems and even the seats are tailored down to the last detail, to allow the operators to communicate comfortably with the dynamic simulations and visual subsystems. The chairs meet all international standards, and are designed to be identical to those used in real situations, with orthopedic and mechanical suspension cushions for adjusting the position. Visual subsystems generate a visual representation of the work settings. These images are produced on LED HDTV monitors that can have their positions adjusted based on the required simulation. Motion platforms can be used, giving the operator the experience of acceleration and braking, as well as the expansion of vestibular and tactile sensations, which minimize the motion sickness effect, otherwise known as Simulator Adaption Syndrome. The Q Motion platform integrates a range of bi-directional 6o movement at a radius of approximately 1.8m. Similarly, the cabins provide a realistic environment to increase the feeling of immersion in the simulators. These have been manufactured from authentic materials and are based on actual cabin models.

Mining equipment comes in various shapes and forms, but e-Tech’s simulators are able to cover all bases. Wheel loaders, hydraulic excavators, mobile cranes, electric rope shovels, forklifts, backhoes, drill jumbos, mining trucks, and off-highway trucks can all be replicated within virtual scenarios of real environments. Each type of equipment has a number of simulation modules and, for each of these modules, KPIs measure how accurately and quickly the work is completed. Reports are then produced to highlight execution times, accuracy, and any risky maneuvers that may have been performed. By replacing a simple pass and fail structure with a diagnostic one, these reports give the operators, and the mining companies, essential feedback and insight into their training progress. As well as the simulators themselves, e-Tech offers turnkey solutions for the design and implementation of training centers for its clients. By building the knowledge of the mining industry’s workforce and by offering the potential to reduce maintenance and labor costs, e-Tech’s simulators have proven that innovation in this sector is of paramount importance for those companies wishing to stay ahead of the curve.