PC-Based Equipment Simulators: Cost-Effective Hands-On Training Tools

mining truck simulatorPC-based equipment simulators are a trusted and cost-effective way of improving traditional operator training programs in the mining, construction and forestry industries. They provide vital hands-on experience to trainees in a safe, instructionally-designed environment.

These simulators leverage the power of today's PCs and laptops to help train new operators on common machine tasks. They have been proven to reduce training costs, increase operator productivity, and help minimize the safety risks associated with operator inexperience (see the case history links on the right side of this page to read more about the results that customers have achieved with these simulators).

construction equipment operator training from VISTA

Benefits of PC-based simulators

  • Hands-on training tools help trainees to develop "muscle memory" for basic machine tasks, making the transition to field training on an actual machine much easier.
  • They reduce the need for "seat time" on an actual machine, which can result in significant fuel savings.
  • They are useful for aptitude testing, providing a measurable way to identify candidates with good operator potential.
  • They reduce wear and tear on machines used for training.
  • They teach good operating habits to trainees, providing a solid foundation that equipment owners can build upon using their training programs.
  • Simulator exercises are self-directed; students work their way through the simulation exercises without the need for an instructor.

How simulator training is structured

PC-based based heavy equipment simulatorTrainees begin with familiarization with machine controls; trainees are drilled on the functions of each machine control until these movements become instinctive. Trainees then learn basic machine tasks and advance to more complex operations, in a simple but effective "building block" approach. In all cases, the simulators focus on tasks that mimic what trainees are likely to encounter on a real job site.

For each training module, the software captures data that summarizes how quickly and how carefully each jobsite task is performed, including but not limited to:

  • Cycle times
  • Loading and accuracy of implement placement
  • Collisions with other equipment

Data generated by the simulator enables field trainers to clearly see areas where trainees need to improve, so they can coach trainees how to correct these weak spots.

Assessing operator candidates

A number of customers have successfully used these simulators to identify operator candidates with the greatest natural aptitude, prior to hiring them. This enables trainers to focus their time, money and manpower into hiring and training those individuals with the best natural operating ability. In settings like underground utility work, where operators are working around gas lines and fiber optic cables, having the safest, most proficient operators at the controls of your equipment is critically important.

Simulator labs

Increasingly, community colleges, operating unions, high schools and even the U.S. military have deployed simulator labs to train multiple students. Multiple simulators are located in a single room, connected to a central server called the Simulation Manager, which records the performance of each trainee in a centralized database. Several simulator labs are pictured below.

simulator lab
simulator lab


If you have any questions about these PC-based simulators and how you can utilize them in your business, please contact us at 800-942-2886 or 262-514-2886 or via e-mail at info@vista-training.com.

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