Excavator simulator training to improve safety, quality, economy and sustainable behaviour
Paper i proceeding, 2017
Excavator operator is a creative profession that optimally combines solid crafts-manship with modern technology. It requires extensive training to become skilled. Safety is of highest concern in education, since several risk factors are involved when unexperienced operators control powerful machines. An instructor needs constantly supervise real-life training. Training simulators are useful tools. Simulator technology enables a safe and effective environment no matter of weather conditions, for a low cost in a non-polluted way. Students can practice as much as needed without an instructor and follow-ups are easy to assess.
The purpose of this study was to further develop an excavator full-scale training simulator. The aim was to identify tacit knowledge and key parameters that characterise a skilled excavator operator and develop instructive training assignments to improve students’ skills in regard to safety, quality, economy and environmental sustainability. The assignments should be appropriate for student training, repeated training and for evaluation of competences when selecting new employees at construction sites. The methods used were literature studies, cognitive theory, interviews with instructors, professional expert drivers and students, observations at construction sites, focus groups with simulator developers and usability tests with students and instructors of implemented changes.
The key parameters found for being a skilled excavator operator were divided into physical and mental capabilities. Regarding physical abilities coordination, reaction time, fine motor skill and peripheral vision are most important as well as possibilities to reach and grab various operating devices such as levers, knobs and regulators. Regarding mental capabilities attention, perception, ability to concentrate and simultaneous capacity are essential, which in over-all can lead to achieving high situation awareness.
In the simulation software the abilities became about 30 metrics and were registered as physical and mental abilities in real time. Advanced algorithms were developed for continuous evaluation of combinations of metrics to find hazardous behaviour, environmental sustainable operations and high quality operations. This resulted in three final scores describing achievement of safety, quality and economy when executing a training task in the simulator. When executing a task, the students are provided with continuous feedback on the screen about their present success rate regarding safety, quality and economy.
The results from the usability tests showed that the students became more motivated and enthusiastic, due to the continuous feedback of their performance and the possibility to understand what to improve. To compare results from time to time individually as well as informal competitions between students could make them gain better skill in a shorter time. To conclude, presenting results of how well you perform excavating in a safe way with high quality and economy and understanding how improvements of performance can be done are important aspects for the student’s adaption to real working situations.