With the lack of training facilities in the UK, its no wonder there is such a famine of skilled labour for driving and operators’ jobs.
What’s the solution?
Well, a simulator is a good training vessel, they can be limited and expensive to buy and generally manufacturer specific, but they are ideal in forestry colleges – what few we have left – and in manufacturers premises where students and trainees can hone their skills without expensive fuel costs and the fear of damaging equipment.
At the last Interforst Exhibition I had the opportunity to try out a training simulator made by independent company Tenstar, it created quite a stir. At the time, Mikael Frimodig was Area Sales Manager for Eco Log, and he was more than happy to show the Tenstar technology that Eco Log used on their own simulators. I was only able to try it out briefly, but I remember being stunned at how realistic the experience was, so much so, that I included it as one of the highlights of the show in the following Issue. Last year Mikael left Eco Log to pursue a new career as the Business Area Manager for Tenstar Simulation. He is very passionate about Tenstar and was enthusiastic in explaining about the new developments and programmes that they had been implementing into their simulators.
Tenstar has the unique ability to combine several machine types within the same platform, providing flexible and cost-effective learning. The company offer various levels of simulators from a basic desktop to the combination simulator with interactive touch screen for all of the Tenstar vehicles, with the full set of accessories and options and motion base for enhanced realism.
These simulators can be used not just a training tool but also as an aptitude test in schools by helping students to decide on which career path suits their specific skill set. Schools in rural economies
could benefit from having this type of simulator as it covers many of the land-based skills needed for remote areas to survive. Added benefits include building confidence, reducing accidents and down time, reducing emissions and fuel costs plus it is cost effective with low operating costs.
This article focuses on the combination simulator which offers a full-scale training tool for the education of machine operators and drivers. It takes a user, without prior knowledge, to an important level of competence through step-by-step exercises.
Tenstar simulators have five separate segments: Construction, Transportation, Traffic, Agriculture and Forestry. Each segment is broken down further to include 23 machines.
- Construction: Track Excavator, Wheeled Excavator, Wheeled loader, Articulated Haulier, Grader, Dozer, Tower Crane and telescopic handler.
- Transportation: Forklift, Lorry Loader, Timber Crane Truck, Telescopic Handler, and Wheeled Loader.
- Traffic: Car, Bus, Truck with Trailer, and Long Haulier.
- Agriculture: Tractor, Combine Harvester, Telescopic Handler, and Wheel Loader.
- Forestry: Harvester and Forwarder.
The combination simulator uses head tracking to give the field of view in the direction of where you are looking and is just about as real as it gets. You can access the drone shot so that you can see your work area from outside the machine and the VR Headset adds more realism to the simulation with better depth perception and enables VR
walk-around for machine inspection.
To enhance the realistic experience Tenstar uses a motion base with 3 DOF (Degree of freedom). Using advanced motion pattern technology this increases the feeling of working in an actual machine. Pedals, joysticks, and steering wheels are easily interchanged for the equipment programme the simulator is running and it comes with a professional driver’s seat with a low back. Tenstar use the best and highest quality from BE-GE in Sweden.
After logging in to your personal account each new session starts with a visual pre-start check of the equipment with a virtual walk around. Randomised faults are set on this exercise so trainees can show that they have carried out a thorough check of their equipment/vehicles prior to starting work and that they understand the importance of good maintenance.
Users start with basic
to get a feel for the
controls and the
This teaches how to drive, manoeuvre and avoid obstacles. Each exercise has a scoring report which provides performance-based scorecards and progress charts. The reports are focused on safety, quality, and economy which in turn enables evaluation, feedback and incentives for student progress and development.
The scorecard and progress charts allow the instructor to track each user’s development making it possible to give unique and personal instructions for every student. The Scoring System also enables real time feedback, to the user, ensuring continued and focused improvement in key areas. There is also a record and replay function which can be replayed from any angle at any given time so that you can analyse, evaluate, and improve your driving.
Before moving up a level of difficulty, users must complete a test to prove that they have mastered the exercise in a safe and competent manner. This information is saved on the user’s progress report.
This is one of the best training tools I have seen as not only does it teach trainees how to operate or drive competently, it also shows them how to do the work.
Harvester Simulation Programme
This harvester programme demonstrates how to position the harvester, fell trees within target zones, how to avoid damage to the remaining trees in a thinning, the order that the trees should be felled in and how to present the processed timber for the forwarder. A single tree species can be selected or a mixed crop – this helps students identify the different species and present them separately for the forwarder – as they are often used to make different types of products in the sawmill.
The operator has complete control and can set the tree size and whether the trees are to be thinned or clearcut. When the percentage for thinning is set, the simulator will mark the trees to be felled with a yellow ribbon. This teaches users how to select trees that should be removed, the direction to fell them to avoid damage to the remaining trees and where to stack the produce to avoid further tree damage by the forwarder. Two simulators can be connected to work in unison, for example the harvester and forwarder or combine harvester, tractor, and trailer.
There are varied options for type of ground and weather conditions – flat, steep, rocky, boggy, wet, and windy, with real life scenarios where the machine can tip over or get bogged. Students are taught how to use and set up the machines computer systems for driving, crane operations, produce values, pulse opening on knives and a support tool for repairs. Although hydraulic hoses can be damaged by
operating the machine incorrectly, they are much easier to repair with a quick push of the re-set button. ☺
All user have their own progress report after logging on three times. This includes a video report that can be viewed afterwards that details all that has been achieved and shows up any mistakes.
With the haulage, construction, forestry, and farming industries all under severe pressure due to the shortage of skilled workers, the Tenstar simulator could be a valuable training tool.
I have only touched on a fraction of what the Tenstar simulators are capable of and think they would be a terrific addition to our schools and colleges to help get pupils interested from a young age.
Forest Machine Magazine is written and edited by a forest professional with over 40 years hands on experience. We are dedicated to keeping you informed with all the latest news, views and reviews from our industry.
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