I've just returned from two mining conventions in Latin America, the Perumin show in Arequipa in September and the Expo Minera show in Acapulco last week, and one of the takeaways is that virtual reality technology (VR) in mining is now commonplace.
For the past year, MacLean has been test driving our 'Bolter in a Box' virtual reality (VR) training tool at industry gatherings like these, where booth visitors can literally 'try on' VR bolting as an enhanced operator training tool.
As a trade show booth magnet, the VR headset is an easy and popular addition to our booth.What we've seen so far is that curious conference goers tend to wear it for a few minutes and that's all they need to get a taste of the VR simulator experience turned towards underground mining vehicle training.
The next step is to build on these initial show demos and make this highly transportable technology an integral part of the classroom portion of our bolter training offer.This will be as much for introductory safety and basic configuration training as it will be for refresher training offered to experienced operators.For the latter, this is where running critical incident scenarios like a fire or major equipment breakdowns, to measure response times, can be of clear benefit.The fire scenario critical incident and response time testing is an easy example of an underground mining situation that lends itself so well to simulation, over the real thing.
Our VR development journey at MacLean has of course focused on programming and hardware…technology…but the key learning has been that nothing replaces the actual human trainer.It's about enhancing training by complementing, not replacing, the technical and teaching expertise of the actual real-life operator trainer delivering the course.
If you're interested in getting a demo of this training tool, please reach out.We want to take this tool on the road to prove its value as a teaching tool, as well as continue to improve it.
After the MacLean 'Bolter in a Box', next up will be extending the VR world to pre-op walkarounds and then full simulator treatments for the MacLean Blockholer and MacLean Shotcrete Sprayer.There are many potential applications to be developed, now that the VR technology fit with mining vehicle training has been proven.
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Director of Marketing & Communications