UK Plant Operators LTD have teamed up with Leica Geosystems and Kier Bam to test run a state of the art simulator based familiarisation course for Leica machine control and guidance at one of the largest construction projects in the UK. This scheme was piloted at the recent Plantworx exhibition in the form of an operator competition.
Hinkley Point C in Somerset have recently made the decision to make all machinery on site far more efficient and incorporating Leica GPS/GNSS machine control systems, which in its self is a massive undertaking with over 150 excavators and dozers all working side by side on this massive project, with a 3 month timescale to undertake all the installs to the machinery UKPO were charged with the task of trying to familiarize some of the already highly skilled plant operators with the Leica Icon system.
So the challenge was set, 45 operators needed to be trained with basic familiarization within a ten day window, just the logistics of this alone would present a lot of problems including how can we get the system into the classroom environment and working to enable demonstration of the system to its full potential, obviously traditional methods of installing the system to an excavator on site and trying to lean over each operator while the machine is moving was totally out of the question also very unproductive in this high pace environment.
In roll UK Plant Operators Ltd with their state of the art plant training simulator, this machine has been specially developed with clever coding to trick the Leica Icon box into thinking its reading real data from the GPS/GNSS satellites and works as a normal box thus enabling us to upload designs and models in a nice warm classroom environment.
Operators were very sceptical at first about simulator training in this environment as most of the operators were already at the top of their game, but soon realized the simulator was not trying to teach them how to operate machinery but to give them the rare opportunity to be able to interact with the Leica Icon box in a safe environment without risk of interfering with any live models currently being run on site, most operators left the course with a good basic understanding of how GPS works and the benefits of the system.
We also ensured all attendees took part in the national competition to see who could load a truck in the fastest time which was very successful in creating a bit comradery between the operators engineers and office staff, making the course a very fun productive environment for learning.
The whole course was hailed a success and UK Plant Operators are now working with Leica, Hinkley Point to deliver further training in this way including a more in depth Total station training for the parts of the site where the GPS signal gets lost due to the massive depth of some of the excavations.