ThoroughTec’s Differentiation Leads Expansion in New Simulation Markets
MINING WEEKLY – AUGUST 2014
Not only are mines increasingly buying into advanced simulation, but more simulator cabs are being developed across a diverse range of original-equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to meet the demand for this type of training, aimed at improving safety and productivity.
Over the last year and a half, global training simulator provider ThoroughTec Simulation has entered a number of new markets, including China, India and Kazakhstan.
ThoroughTec is introducing new CYBERMINE simulators from many of the major OEMs, for surface and underground mining, including complex bolters and drill rigs. Simulated cabs from various OEMs have been, or are, in the process of being developed, including articulated dump trucks (ADTs), bolters (including meshing and scaling), continuous miners, dozers, draglines, excavators, graders, haul trucks, load-haul dumps (LHDS), locomotives, personnel carriers, scalers, shotcrete sprayers, shovels, shuttle cars, surface and underground drill rigs and wheel loaders.
“Because mine vehicles are being used for fewer training tasks, the associated running costs of training are greatly reduced.”
“Offering a diverse and extensive range of cabs from many of the OEMs means mine operators can get the most out of their simulators, with the safety and productivity benefits realised in the actual mining fleet,” says ThoroughTec executive VP of global business development Gregory Lew.
At Rio Tinto’s new Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine, in Mongolia, ThoroughTec’s fourth generation CYBERMINE simulators are being used to their maximum potential. “We’ve received reports from Oyu Tolgoi that they’re using their simulators for up to 20 hours a day,” says Lew. This includes cabs for an ADT, bolter, LHD and a shotcrete sprayer from three different OEMs.
So far, OEM cabs simulated by ThoroughTec include Atlas Copco, Bell, CAT, DUX, Fermel, Fletcher, Goodman, Hino, Hitachi, Joy, Komatsu, Le Tourneau, Liebherr, MacLean, Marion, MTI, Normet, O&K Terrex, P&H, Salzgitter, Sandvik, Taiyuan Heavy Industry and Trident.
“Because mine vehicles are being used for fewer training tasks, the associated running costs of training are greatly reduced,” says Lew. “Damage and wear-and-tear on mine vehicles decreases as green operators are able to familiarise themselves with the controls of the machines and iron out their mistakes on the mining simulator instead of the real machine. This means less unscheduled maintenance and lower maintenance and training costs.”
ThoroughTec was recently chosen by the Northern Centre for Advanced Technology (Norcat) in Ontario, Canada, to supply its Global Centre of Excellence in Training and Development/Health and Safety with an advanced training simulator. The equipment simulation service will be launched with a MacLean bolter, Atlas Copco rocket boomer and Sandvik and Caterpillar LHDs. Other unique cabs from OEMs can be added as industry requests come in.
“The addition of ThoroughTec’s CYBERMINE4 simulator demonstrates our continued focus on investing in innovative and complementary training techniques for the global mining industry,” says Norcat CEO Don Duval.
Norcat’s decision also highlights the fact that it is not only mining houses that are buying into training simulators, with many training centres recognising the benefits too, particularly in the Asia Pacific region. Balai Diklat Tambang Bawah Tanah in Indonesia, the Block Cave Knowledge Centre of Excellence at Northparkes mine and Curtin University’s Western Australian School of Mines, have all realised the potential of simulation in mining. This thinking has found its way to other continents as well: Murray & Roberts Cementation’s Bentley Park training facility, in South Africa, Aurora College, Yukon Mine Training Association and the University of Alaska, in North America, and the University of Santo Tomas, in Chile.
Last year, ThoroughTec added two new products to complement its range of CYBERMINE full mission simulators. 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 two-dimensional and three-dimensional computer animations, video, audio and still photographs displayed on a high performance off-the shelf personal computer. All users and their results can be recorded on a central database.
Once the trainee has mastered the theory on the CBT, the CYBERMINE 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 through touch-screen display and through the various instruments and controls of the replicated cab. Three different modes (exploration, training and evaluation modes) 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 use 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,” concludes Lew.
ThoroughTec’s headquarters are in Durban, South Africa.