Simulators - Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions. When in doubt, please contact VISTA Training.

Investing in simulation training

PC-based heavy equipment simulatorWhy should I train new operators on a simulator? Isn't training them on real heavy equipment good enough?

Ample research has shown that trainees who work with simulation software are more productive than those who only trained on an actual machine. What's even more significant is that this performance advantage continues weeks and months later. Both continue to improve as they gain experience, but the person who had the simulator training continues to maintain an edge in productivity over time.

How can I justify an investment in an equipment simulator? I only need to train a handful of new operators per year.

While PC-based simulation is an awesome training tool, a large part of its value also comes from utilizing it as an assessment tool - to identify people with best natural aptitude and potential to become effective equipment operators. This enables you to focus your limited training resources on candidates who are most likely to become proficient, safe operators - and to eliminate wasted time and manpower.

Another benefit of using simulation software is fuel savings: By having trainees learn basic skills on the simulator, less "seat time" is required to complete the training on an actual machine. That translates into less fuel used, and also results in reduced wear and tear on your machines. Trainees who understand how the machine operates and how to perform basic tasks with it are less likely to have collisions, "slam" bucket hydraulics open or closed or engage in unsafe behaviors. Some simulator customers have been able to recover the cost of the simulator within a year - based only upon fuel savings!

How do you measure return on investment (ROI) on a training tool like this? I won't invest in anything unless I know it will more than pay for itself.

These simulators are designed with your bottom line in mind. You can create performance benchmarks within the simulator software, which can be used to assess the performance of trainees. In addition, as trainees work their way through the simulator lessons, it captures a wealth of performance data, so you can see where they appear to have weak spots in their understanding and coach them to help improve their performance. This data can be stored as part of your operators' permanent files, so you have documentation of their abilities if OSHA, MSHA or another regulatory agency should come calling - one less thing for you to worry about!

My firm has a lot of work going on right now. We don't have time to pull an experienced operator off of a job to train a new hire, and lose his productivity for several days. But I still need to train him. Any suggestions?

These heavy equipment simulators are self-paced training tools. You don't have to supervise the trainee as they learn how to utilize machines like yours. Best of all, you can schedule simulator training sessions at any time, anywhere you can set up a PC or laptop and the controls to operate it.

I'm not convinced that a PC-based simulator is effective. It looks like a game. I don't have time for games.

These simulators are instructionally-designed training tools, created with the needs of adult learners in mind. Adults prefer hands-on learning, and these simulators fill that need. They enable new operators to learn basic machine tasks and control functions in a safe environment, without tying up your expensive production machines. Also, because trainees can go through simulation lesson on a self-paced basis, your trainer can be freed up to focus on other, higher value-added tasks.

Good training delivers measurable results. These simulators enable you to set performance benchmarks for different tasks, and to measure the performance of your trainees and job candidates against them. The data generated also shows you areas where trainees aren't learning as effectively, which can help you to provide focused one-on-one coaching to correct these deficiencies.

Hardware and software questions

What kind of computer hardware do I need to run one of these simulators?

Can I use the simulator software online with just my web browser?

No. The simulators are desktop applications that must be installed on your PC and used with simulator controls that are connected to the same PC. Only in this way can they deliver the real-time performance that's required to simulate the behavior of real heavy equipment.

Can I use the same software license with many PCs?

No. Software licensing is per PC; for each computer, you will need a separate software license.

Can two students train together using Simlog software, by connecting their two PCs?

No. When operating heavy equipment, most work is self-contained. In other words, the operator has little interaction with other equipment. However, when interaction is required, students learn that best by working with experienced operators, not other students. This is why many of the programs feature a simulated expert at the controls of the other equipment (for example, a simulated mining truck built into the electric rope shovel simulation software). In this way, each student learns to do things properly, right from the start, and does not need to depend upon the availability of another student at the controls of another simulator to provide the necessary interaction.

Other questions

I want to become an operator. Is there special pricing for home study?

VISTA Training does not offer home study versions of our professional training simulation software, so we have no special pricing for home study. Simulator training is not an end unto itself. After simulator-based training, you need to graduate to the controls of real heavy equipment. So if you are serious about becoming a heavy equipment operator, you will need to look for an operator training program. VISTA Training recommends you contact the community colleges and vocational schools in your area to determine if any of them offer heavy equipment operator training.

I'm not interested in operator training. Do you have something just for fun?

No. These are professional training tools, and are not intended to be used as a game. If you would like to learn more about earthmoving equipment, then you ought to visit the How Stuff Works website. There you will find lots of information, including a web-based skid steer loader simulator.

More questions? Just contact VISTA Training!