Simulator Provides Effective – And Fun – Training

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | August 2009 Vol. 64 No. 8

John Deere's Excavator Training Simulator, introduced about in 2008, has proved to be effective and popular, and the innovative training concept has been expanded to cover other machines.

Deere introduced a similar simulator for four wheel drive loaders in July, and a motor grader simulator is scheduled to be released in September.

"John Deere's Excavator Operator Training Simulator is a cost effective, safe and efficient way to train new operators in a risk free environment," said Michael Hoeg, senior instructional designer and developer, John Deere Training Center. "Eight highly detailed and realistic lessons will teach proper operator technique, machine controls and safe operation in a virtual job site."

The Excavator Operator Training Simulator is not specific to John Deere equipment: operators can select from John Deere ISO Backhoe controls or industry standards SAE Excavator controls.

"This flexibility is very important to customers with a large fleet of machines across different manufacturers, and also aids in cross training of operators," said Hoeg.

Many who have used the excavator simulator say it is the most realistic training tool they have ever seen.

Simulator operation

The Excavator Operator Training Simulator is available as a full simulator including replica joysticks, replica foot pedals, and the simulation software that runs on a personal computer or laptop with graphic capabilities necessary to support simulator software. As a low cost alternative, stimulation software can be purchased individually and used with affordable gaming joysticks that can be purchased from local electronics retailers.

"We've received overwhelming response that the John Deere simulator is the most realistic in the market," said Hoeg. "The excavator simulator permits operators to experience eight real world lessons, including controls familiarization, placement for trenching, end of day parking, truck loading, digging a level trench, setting a trench box, placing a pipe and loading onto a lowboy trailer. Each lesson includes real life situations, job site hazards, safety violations and tasks that the operator will eventually experience daily on the job."

At the end of each training lesson, operators receive instant feedback based on their performances.

"Each lesson presents the operator with a detailed score sheet," explained Hoeg. "Depending on the lesson the score sheet will include different expectations of the operator. Time on task, operating costs, profit, equipment damage and other lesson specific details are tracked."