Sim­u­la­tor role high­lighted in spe­cial fo­rum

Australian Forests and Timber - - Training -

It was some­thing unique, some­thing long over­due, and some­thing highly ben­e­fi­cial ... it was, in fact, the first Forestry Sim­u­la­tor Lead Users Fo­rum.

Held early in Novem­ber at Waratah’s Mel­bourne dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tre (and planned and run by Waratah Asia Pa­cific and Africa), the fo­rum was de­signed to con­cen­trate on “up­skilling” the forestry work­force.

Over the past few decades a num­ber of train­ing providers have ei­ther had do­nated or pur­chased var­i­ous types of forestry sim­u­la­tors.

Th­ese own­ers and providers can own and man­age small soft­ware pack­ages right through to full sys­tem plat­forms that cost in ex­cess of $100,000.00 worth of in­vest­ment.

How­ever, over time, the af­ter sales sup­port for up­grad­ing and main­tain­ing the prod­uct falls away be­cause of dis­tance from the man­u­fac­turer. It’s not a core busi­ness of the lo­cal sup­plier and there is a gen­uine lack of peer sup­port.

The orig­i­nal new train­ers them­selves in many cases move on to more se­nior roles, the train­ing pack­ages be­come aged or, in some cases, not ap­pli­ca­ble to to­day’s needs.

In some sit­u­a­tions govern­ment changes to in­dus­try train­ing fund­ing can have a large ef­fect on the tar­get au­di­ence in pro­vid­ing off-the- job or new en­trant train­ing with th­ese sim­u­la­tors.

Other in­dus­try ef­fects -- such as the min­ing boom, ex­port down­turn -- can also play a ma­jor part in es­tab­lish­ing base­line cour­ses that con­sis­tently de­liver train­ing pack­ages and com­pe­tent en­trants into the in­dus­try.

Ad­vanc­ing user com­pli­ance

“One driver that is not chang­ing, though, is the in­creased de­pen­dence on mech­a­ni­sa­tion and ad­vanc­ing user com­pli­ance in for­est op­er­a­tions,” said Jules Larsen, Waratah’s Gen­eral Man­ager Dis­tri­bu­tion and Op­er­a­tions (Asia Pa­cific and Africa).

“The ex­pec­ta­tion of the for­est owner has al­ways been to have ma­chine own­ers and oper­a­tors to pro­vide qual­ity logs of the high­est value with consistent pro­duc­tion and to per­form this safely.

“We, as an in­dus­try, are slowly chang­ing and com­ing to re­alise that not only for our ex­ist­ing em­ploy­ees but new em­ploy­ees we need forms of off­site train­ing avail­able to us to up­skill staff,” said Jules.

“We can­not con­tinue to ex­pect new ma­chine oper­a­tors to get in th­ese ma­chines and learn as you go. We can­not ex­pect for­est own­ers to let this con­tinue to hap­pen for­ever ei­ther,” Jules said.

Vi­tal for worker re­ten­tion

“We can­not ever achieve this offthe-job train­ing avail­abil­ity with­out com­mit­ting to and in­vest­ing in lo­cal train­ing providers. They are not only the key to re­cruit­ment but also vi­tal for re­ten­tion by con­tin­u­ally rein­vest­ing in our ex­ist­ing staff.”

For­est Sim­u­la­tors can pro­vide that off-the-job train­ing ef­fec­tively, pro­vid­ing plat­forms that en­able re­al­is­tic and repli­ca­ble tasks that can pre­sented at any time.

“We have For­est Sim­u­la­tors in train­ing hubs all over the re­gion and we should be util­is­ing th­ese more ef­fec­tively to im­prove in­dus­try qual­ity,” said Jules.

“Our aim with the An­nual Sim­u­la­tor Fo­rum is to cre­ate a means of re­fresh­ing the phys­i­cal train­ing tools, scop­ing the lat­est train­ing needs, shar­ing train­ing pack­ages and, most im­por­tantly, build­ing a strong net­work of sup­port,” he said.

In­vited to the fo­rum were a wide range of in­dus­try sim­u­la­tor rep­re­sen­ta­tives who are not only great coaches and skilled train­ers but who are also pas­sion­ate about the peo­ple in the for­est in­dus­try.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from South Africa, Australia and New Zealand at­tended the Mel­bourne fo­rum, all pre­pared to share and lever­age skills and ex­pe­ri­ence to help the forestry in­dus­try.

Spe­cial guest was Simo Tu­jula the John Deere Tech­nol­ogy Con­sul­tant from Fin­land.

Simo pre­sented the lat­est de­vel­op­ments from around the world in For­est Sim­u­la­tor train­ing and set out some ex­am­ples of how we can lo­cally ap­ply some of th­ese tools to help trainees in this re­gion.

At­ten­dees got to see and run first hand a wide range of sim­u­la­tors and soft­ware pack­ages, in­clud­ing ev­ery­day data man­age­ment skill train­ing right through to com­pe­tency based pro­grams for For­warders and Har­vesters.

The first half of the fo­rum was devoted to shar­ing pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ences and re­gion­ally tar­geted pack­ages. This for­mat gave the great­est in­sight for ev­ery­one as to the ac­tual gaps, scope and op­por­tu­ni­ties within the re­gion.

Over the course of the fo­rum it was clear that many of those gaps were able to be eas­ily closed and quickly be­come op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“It was a great event and hats off to Waratah for their ini­tia­tive,” said Andy Cu­sack LITA Mt Gam­bier.

Shot in the arm for in­dus­try

“It was a great net­work­ing op­por­tu­nity and ev­ery­one learned a great deal from the event. I be­lieve the plan is for more to come in the fu­ture and this can only be a shot in the arm for the in­dus­try and ev­ery­one con­nected with it.

“Com­put­er­i­sa­tion is be­gin­ning to play an even big­ger part in mod­ern day for­est har­vest and haul and the bet­ter equipped ev­ery­one is the bet­ter for the in­dus­try. Again, Waratah de­serves credit for the top job they did,” said Andy.

An­other of the at­ten­dees was David Priem, Man­ager, TAFE NSW For­est In­dus­try Train­ing Cen­tre, who said there were three im­por­tant out­comes from the event:

• the in­stal­la­tion of TeamViewer on the sim­u­la­tors now en­ables the For­est In­dus­try Train­ing Cen­tre to send a sim­u­la­tor to any lo­ca­tion and pro­vide real-time har­vest­ing train­ing from wher­ever the trainer hap­pens to be. That is, it breaks the problem of need­ing the trainer to be on-site, at-least in the early phase of op­er­a­tor train­ing,

• we were shown how to use the Ter­rain soft­ware so that ap­pro­pri­ate har­vest­ing sce­nar­ios and land­forms can be con­structed for train­ing pur­poses, and

• plan­ning is un­der way for the roll­out of Cal­i­bra­tion train­ing at key sites in-con­junc­tion with part­ner train­ers such as the TAFE NSW For­est In­dus­try Train­ing Cen­tre. Waratah is al­ready plan­ning next year’s fo­rum and is aim­ing to make it even big­ger and bet­ter.

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