ThoroughTec delivers a holistic, digital training solution
Featured in International Mining – November/December 2023
In a new era of digital mining, ThoroughTec Simulation says it is leading the way towards simplified, integrated training solutions that cater to the evolving needs of the industry. “Heavy equipment is becoming more complex, health and safety standards are rising, and the demand for increased productivity at reduced cost intensifying. In this demanding environment, the most forward-thinking mines are turning to technology to deliver training that gets the very best from their people. ThoroughTec Simulation is meeting this challenge head-on, by offering a wide range of innovative training technologies that not only attract young talent but also enhance the skill and efficiency of existing equipment operators.”
All designed and produced under one roof, ThoroughTec’s CYBERMINE range of full-mission simulators, interactive e-learning, VR pre-trip inspection trainers and comprehensive managed services “seamlessly integrate under the Workforce Excellence (WX) Training Management System to empower mines to tackle the modern training challenge head-on and drive productivity to new heights. With their simple, robust and most importantly, unified approach, they are paving the way for a brighter future in mining education and workforce development.”
Historically, mine training departments have grappled with numerous challenges, spanning diverse training methods, incompatible tools and an overreliance on paper-based assessment, record-keeping, and organisation. Traditional Learning Management Systems (LMS) have provided some assistance, however their utility has been confined to the realm of e-learning, leaving the broad spectrum of ‘other’ mine training systems and processes to fend for themselves.
To address this longstanding issue, ThoroughTec developed the ‘Workforce Excellence’ Training Management System, or TMS, it said the world’s first dedicated, end-to end mining training management system. This cloud-based, enterprise-level software platform stands as the cornerstone of ThoroughTec’s training ecosystem, effectively digitising and centralising the creation, planning, control, reporting, and record-keeping for any and all mining training activities, regardless of medium, method, or content.
“While optimised for integration with ThoroughTec’s CYBERMINE product range, WX TMS is actually technology, medium and process agnostic, allowing it to adapt seamlessly to virtually any training context or requirement. It serves as the training department’s central nervous system, connecting every aspect of training, from curriculum development and course planning to activity scheduling, resource allocation, operator record-keeping, and certification. The system accommodates the widest spectrum of training methods, from traditional classroom theory and e-learning systems to VR pre-trip testing, full-mission simulators, and even live, in-pit training and evaluation. Importantly, it offers near-real-time oversight to stakeholders across the organisational hierarchy.”
In the ever-evolving landscape of mechanised mining equipment, traditional machine controls are being replaced by digital fly-by-wire systems and the ubiquitous internet of things, has ushered in a proliferation of “smart” and semiautonomous equipment. These technological innovations are driven by a shared goal: to lighten operator workload and enhance machine efficiency. As a result, there is an increasing demand for a new breed of operators, individuals who can proficiently program machine automation using touchscreens and demonstrate mastery in traditional mining practices.
“This shift can be seen in the number of new generation simulators being ordered. Over the last year we have seen a significant increase in demand for ‘smart’ equipment simulators – no fewer than nine discrete Sandvik ‘i-series’ machines, several Epiroc RCS5 drills and bolters as well as Minestar integrated Caterpillar machines.”
Beyond the industry’s best possible simulation of the such equipment, a key feature of ThoroughTec’s broader offering is an ability to develop customised virtual mine worlds and operating procedures for any class of equipment. “Demand for such customisation in CYBERMINE simulators is at an all-time high, with clients wanting ‘digital twins’ of their operations, in which students can be exposed to and build experience in their ‘actual’ mine. At the end of the day, the more accurate and realistic the training experience, the more transferable those learnings are to the real world and the higher the operational return.”
The utilisation of e-learning has also witnessed remarkable growth in recent years. “This shift involves the migration of assessments, training materials, and employee records to online platforms, resulting in a significant reduction in paper consumption and a streamlined process for creating, managing, and delivering training content. Moreover, e-learning systems have demonstrated their ability to enhance the learning experience by incorporating audio, 3D models, videos, and interactive elements, ensuring that students remain interested and engaged. Furthermore, e-learning promotes consistency and uniformity in content delivery and testing procedures.”
Specifically, CYBERMINE’s e-learning modules are tailored to the equipment and site requirements, covering a wide range of topics. These modules educate students on diverse subjects, spanning from the fundamentals of personal protective equipment (PPE) usage, site operating protocols, and mining principles to more intricate vehicle operation procedures.
Pre-trip or walk-around inspection training has also been brought into the digital age, as students can now learn to perform this safety critical task virtually, using an interactive touch screen. The simulated equipment is completely and accurately modelled in 3D and placed into a virtual space where the student can ‘move around’ and inspect every detail and component of the machine. The taught inspection procedures are developed according to OEM recommendations and tailored where necessary to include site-specific requirements. Equipment wear, defects and potential faults are realistically portrayed and randomised during the tests so that the students learn to identify such issues and take appropriate action before operating the equipment.
“It has been a hard lesson realising that not even the best technology in the world will deliver a positive effect if the people it serves lack the capacity to unlock it’s potential. The mining industry, hyper-focused as it is on its core business, suffers greatly from this challenge. In response we have created a ‘Customer Success’ department whose staff deploy world-wide to ensure that our customers are realising the benefits of their investment in CYBERMINE technology.”
These managed services range from periodic health-checks and client refresher training, to the full-time embedding of simulator facilitators. “Beyond the integration of our technology into client training methods and culture, these ‘boots-on-the-ground’ liaise with mine stakeholders to align training activities to address operational shortcomings and drive the continuous improvement of workforce proficiency.”