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Why is there a need for mines to rethink haul truck operator training?

A number of factors have converged to create a need for a new model of haul truck operator training. In this article, we'll take a look some of those factors, and explain how they are driving the need for a more comprehensive blended learning curriculum. The rise of the mega truck: A significant number of mines have moved to smaller fleets of large-capacity haul trucks (320-400 ton payload capacity), which they expect to be utilized at nearly 100% capacity, with a minimum of reactive downtime. A growing shortage of truck operators: A robust global market for mining commodities has spurred many mines to expand their operations. At the same time, the mining industry faces the retirement of aging workers, combined with a dwindling pool of younger workers to replace them. In some areas of the world, mines are hiring people who may never have operated any type of equipment and training them to become haul truck operators. As a result, mines need to step up their training in order to attract and retain the best operators. Continued pressure to reduce maintenance costs and increase productivity: Mines have always had a near-religious fervor about increasing the efficiency of their operations. One of the last remaining areas in which they can realize further gains is training. Effective training can help mines to:

  1. Assess operator skills and weed out those candidates who don't have natural abilities to drive a haul truck

  2. Curb bad operating habits, which can shorten the life of key truck components and can cause significant safety concerns

  3. Teach trainees to operate their haul trucks in the way they were meant to be run, which translates into reduced maintenance

  4. Reinforce operating habits that help to extend the lives of haul truck tires, which are still in short supply worldwide

  5. Establish benchmarks for haul truck operator performance, and ensure greater consistency across the fleet.Retention of knowledge isn't as good as it needs to be: In addition, new haul truck operator training often doesn't take into account the needs of adult learners. Trainees get their heads filled with knowledge in the classroom, which they promptly forget once they're in the field. When you're operating a $5 million asset, that's a concern. Clearly, much is at stake in terms of mine safety and productivity. All of these factors are driving the need for a more comprehensive blended approach to learning that is more in tune with the ways in which adults learn. Adults want to know why information is important and how it fits into the bigger picture. They also tend to learn better in hands-on situations. A blended curriculum, consisting of a combination of computer-based training, simulation and on-the-job training aids, meets these needs very elegantly.

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