SIMU2014 Project Brought Simulators to Nivala
Nivala Vocational College brought in three Creanex training simulators at the newly introduced Earthworks study program. ”We have trained adult students at the Earthworks program for two years now, and for young students it’s only the second year,” said Earthworks teacher Kari Laitala. ”Until now the students have trained with real machines. With the help of the simulator environment we can now practice the basic use of excavators, loaders, dumpers and trucks safely right away when we begin the training.”
From Log Truck to Excavator in Minutes
The simulators at Nivala have a special feature: swappable controls, which make it possible to simulate different work machines on the same work bench. ”It takes a couple of minutes to swap the controls and then you can jump straight from the handles of a log truck to those of an excavator. ”
The main benefits of the simulator training are in the beginning of training. ”The students get to practice the necessary basic skills safely indoors without the hassle of winter. You get to start right away and learn all the fundamentals of the real machines. The simulators provide cost benefits without compromising the level of education. The use of a simulator also significantly reduces the environmental effects”, stated Laitala.
Laitala sees the simulators as ideal training tools. ”The simulators come with a large collection of ready-made training programs and exercises for students of all levels. Even a first time user can jump right into training safely. Later is easy to transition to the real machines because the simulator controls are identical to the real work machines.”
Students have welcomed the simulator training with positive feedback. ”No one has protested against driving the simulators. Everyone is excited about them. Each student has their personal memory stick on which they save their progress. After completing an exercise, they get to see a detailed report and analysis of their performance. These are interesting to compare and follow together in the group.”
Simulators Complement Training
The acquisition process of the simulators was fast within the Federation of Education in Jokilaaksot. It only took six months from the decision to build a simulator learning environment till the simulators were installed. The simulator environment was implemented together with the SIMU2014 project, a joint venture together with the European Regional Development Fund, several local entrepreneurs and the Council of Oulu Region. Offers were asked from two companies of which Creanex was ultimately chosen. ”For us the most important aspects were smooth and reliable support and the simulators being as identical as possible to the real machines.”
And what does the Earthworks teacher think about the simulator? Will bytes replace the real machines in education? ”The 3D simulation does feel real and it has all the same functions as the real thing. The simulator learning environment fullfills its purpose well and complements the training, but of course will not replace authentic training completely”, said Laitala.