A grade quality sensor is integrated into CM Labs’ Excavator Simulator Training Pack training solution. (CM Labs)

New CM Labs excavator simulator training offers GPS guidance, HMI experience

CM Labs Simulations excavator training exercise offers integrated GPS guidance system to train operators on tech in the simulator.

CM Labs Simulations’ (ConExpo-Con/Agg, Booth F100911 in the Festival Hall) new excavator training exercise incorporates an integrated GPS guidance system that trains operators on how to use this technology in the simulator. The company unveiled the GPS guidance system during ConExpo-Con/Agg, March 10-14, in Las Vegas, offering attendees an opportunity to experience it. This advanced exercise immerses operators in a life-like work site environment that challenges them to dig trenches using the new GPS guidance system, while learning to make decisions based on accurate grade and terrain features.

According to the simulator vendor, when deployed in the field these skills can help reduce operation time and material costs. GPS functionality is becoming an industry standard on heavy equipment, as it supplies data about terrain features and equipment position, enabling faster completion of operations, which can be critical for contractors looking to meet tight project deadlines.

The integration of GPS guidance into the Excavator Simulator Training Pack “was fairly easy, almost plug and play,” said David Clark, CM Labs Simulations’ senior product marketing manager. Speaking to Truck & Off-Highway Engineering, Clark explained that ease was due to CM Labs already simulating all the physics involved in excavator operations, including machine simulation and earthmoving dynamics.

The Excavator Simulator Training Pack provides a progressive learning path that allows beginners to learn controls and basic digging techniques in a controlled environment. The training pack also provides training for more experienced operators, including trench cleaning and leveling. With the new exercise that integrates the GPS feature, training can be advanced even further for more skilled operators.

CM Labs says the new GPS feature will also be rolled out to the rest of the company’s earthmoving training catalog including dozer, motor grader, wheel loader and backhoe. “By making this feature available in a simulator environment, training organizations alleviate the risk of new operators underutilizing or misusing the GPS function, thereby ensuring that it can be exploited to its fullest potential for maximum work site savings,” said Julien Richer-Lanciault, product manager, CM Labs.

Technology like human-machine interface (HMI) assists in the company’s training exercise. “CM Labs incorporates a touchscreen human-machine interface into its simulators, which replicates the information an operator would see on the real machine, including GPS guidance indications,” Clark said, noting the Excavator Simulator Training Pack features the world’s first commercial application of CM Labs’ “innovative approach” to soil simulation. “This realism immerses trainees in a virtual environment that promotes rapid skills acquisition – from excavating and trenching, to trailer loading, safety corridor management and more.”

VR and AR and training
Within the information-intensive construction industry, adoption of technology has been slow. That’s changing for several reasons, according to Kris Lengieza, senior director, business development for construction-management software provider Procore, and speaker at the "A Construction Tech Odyssey - From Today to 2025" ConExpo-Con/Agg session scheduled for Thursday, March 12 from 9:30 - 10:30 a.m.

Until about six or seven years ago, Lengieza noted technology was reserved for the back office and typically used for HR, accounting, contract writing, tracking change orders, with nothing to drive the information to the people in the field who do the work. According to Lengieza, technologies like Virtual Reality (VR) for training, as well as Augmented Reality (AR) are evolving for use in the construction industry.

VR training simulations replicate situational experiences that can be difficult, expensive or dangerous to deliver in real life, he said. When used for construction machine operating training, VR eliminates the need to transport students to locations and equipment and reduces the chances of damaging very expensive machines.

With AR, data and information can be taken out into the field. It involves using a spatial/virtual reality headset that lets the wearer see and interact with digital content at a jobsite by overlaying holograms or 3D models over the real world. For example, said Lengieza, a person can visualize what the design of the building is supposed to be, right alongside the current progress of the building to detect any problems or issues.

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