Mining Simulators – The New Virtual Reality
MINING MAGAZINE – NOVEMBER 2013
ThoroughTec Simulation – based in South Africa and with offices in Australia, Canada and Chile – offers its line of fourth generation CYBERMINE mining training simulators with a continuous 360° display and a high-resolution projection system for the classroom, as well as in mobile container units.
Greg Lew, executive vice-president for global business development at ThoroughTec, explains that these simulator systems feature surround sound, three or six degrees of freedom (or motion), and a database that stores and tracks specific trainees’ performance. They even allow full playback and the ability to fly around in the virtual world.
Not only can one package run simulations of different equipment from machine OEMs such as Caterpillar, Komatsu, Hitachi, Atlas Copco, Sandvik, Joy, Fletcher, Liebherr and P&H (now part of Joy Global) by changing the cab, but it can also switch between underground (hard and soft rock) and surface simulations, whereas other simulator manufacturers often require separate simulators.
“Both the OFT and the high-fidelity full mission simulator can utilise any of the current CYBERMINE vehicle cabs.”
To complement the existing range of CYBERMINE full-mission simulators, ThoroughTec now offers computer-based training and operator familiarisation tools for complete mine-site training.
The CYBERMINE Computer Based Trainer (CBT) is an introductory level tool developed to walk novice recruits through a particular vehicle’s basic controls and operation, as well as the mine environment, site operating procedures and safety checks. The CBT makes use of 2D and 3D computer animations, video, audio and still photographs displayed on a high performance off-the-shelf PC. All users and their results can be recorded on a central database.
Once the trainee has mastered the theory on the CBT, the Operator Familiarisation Trainer (OFT) is used to increase the depth of their knowledge. The OFT operates as an alternative, limited function base-unit for CYBERMINE’s high-fidelity interchangeable vehicle cabs and is designed to familiarise operators with the identification and operation of the instruments and controls of a specific vehicle.
Students interface with the OFT system via a touch-screen display and through the various instruments and controls of the replicated cab. Three different modes (exploration, training and evaluation) allow for a complete familiarisation, learning and evaluation process, while all users and results can be recorded on a central database.
“Both the OFT and the high-fidelity full mission simulator can utilise any of the current CYBERMINE vehicle cabs, allowing the customer to double their use of the cab and therefore providing optimal return on their investment,” says Lew.
In July, ThoroughTec announced the launch of its next generation jumbo drill-rig simulator for underground mining that combines four traditionally separate operations requiring different machines: drilling, scaling, bolting and meshing. Before this development, the industry had only seen separate cabs from ThoroughTec for these simulations.
“Utilising drill rigs to accomplish drilling, scaling, bolting and meshing is not an OEM modification or development, but rather a client adaptation of their equipment that we were then requested to remodel in our simulators. We needed to respond quickly to this development as other customers have also requested this feature in their simulators since its inception,” Lew explains.
While he could not disclose specific on-going simulation improvements, Lew did note that these developments involve better integrating the human senses (including motion, sight, sound, and in the future, maybe smell and air) to make the system’s virtual environment more believable and effective. The company is also working to improve the performance measurement, monitoring, reporting and analysis capabilities of its training programmes.