The “Personal Simulator” Pioneer
Simlog’s story began in 1994 at CRIM (https://www.crim.ca), one of Canada’s leading research institutes in information technologies. The challenge: develop new-to-the-world simulation technology to help train people to operate mechanized logging equipment, as part of an R&D research project sponsored by forest industry stakeholders.
Working in conjunction with key university professors, we began with a special kind of “task analysis” based on observing real heavy equipment operations, to create an innovative Instructional Design consisting of Simulation Modules that introduce the key elements one at a time, with each module building upon what’s already learned in the previous modules.
To track skills development, we developed multiple Performance Indicators to measure how quickly, and how carefully, the simulated work is performed. In this way, feedback was presented as the values of the Performance Indicators. And for each module, we defined hundreds of trials (exercises) to provide many hours of continuous simulator-based training, right “out of the box”.
Four years later, after multiple field trials involving hundreds of students, the conclusion was clear: getting ready at the simulator first before “graduating” to real equipment meant that new operators worked more safely and more productively in the woods. Indeed, with increased revenue (from harvesting more wood) and reduced costs (thanks to fewer “mistakes” that damaged real equipment), the return on investment was evident to all.
These results, along with a special Innovation Prize, set the stage in 1999 for the project leaders to leave CRIM and found Simlog to commercialize the simulator prototype, with local forestry schools as first customers. (The company name is a contraction of “SIMulation” and “LOGiciel”, the French word for software, but the name is also a play on words, since our first product was for mechanized LOGging operations.)
Since then, Simlog has moved “horizontally” into three other industry sectors, construction, mining, and most recently material handling, using the very same Instructional Design to pioneer a new kind of “mass market” product called “Personal Simulator” that leverages the power of today’s off-the-shelf Personal Computers (PCs), USB-ready input devices, and commercial off the shelf (COTS) displays and speakers.
Best in Class Instructional Designs
Simulation for training means having the right kind of simulated tasks, the right kind of task progression, and the right way of evaluating simulated work to comprehensively measure quality and productivity. And at Simlog, we begin by consulting leading customers to identify best practices.
After that, we refine our “Instructional Designs” by taking into account standardized demonstration of skills tests (“Practical Exams”) developed by key “normative” organizations including the CSA, NCCER, NCCCO, National Safety Council, and OSHA. In this way, you can be sure that the Simulation Modules are truly preparing you for the real world tasks you will need to perform (at the controls of real heavy equipment).
Collaboration with Leading OEMs
Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are not always operator training experts but they, of course, equipment experts. And at Simlog, we have worked with leading OEMs in all of our industry sectors, to ensure that the simulated version of the real thing “looks” and “sounds” and “moves” like it should.
The result? Not a “game”, not a OEM sales tool, just a professional operator training product.
Uniquely Qualified Staff
Unlike the employees at companies developing video games or interactive multimedia, Simlog’s simulator specialists are all university graduates in engineering, physics, or computer science; many also have advanced degrees. And we develop our simulation software just like engineers and scientists do (programming in C++), instead of using video gaming “middleware” that can reduce simulation realism and thereby training transfer to the real world. The fact is, we understand how real heavy equipment operates and that, quite frankly, helps us build better simulated ones.
New Product Introductions and Improvements
In step with ongoing improvements to the “horsepower” of today’s PCs, we have a proven track record of new product introductions and improvements to existing products.
Today, that means photorealistic simulation graphics, life-like simulation physics, 3D sounds, and the kind of multi-display rendering with a single computer equipped with a single graphics card.
Seven Innovation Awards
These seven innovation awards are evidence of our product excellence:
- Batimatech PitchTech “Sim5” Prize in 2020, for our Skid Steer Loader Personal Simulator
- CSTD “Gold Award for Training Excellence” in 2013 (as part of TruckLogic), for our Mining Truck Personal Simulator
- Equipment Today Contractors “Top 50” in 2012, for Hydraulic Excavator Personal Simulator (Version 2)
- Aggregates Manager “Top 25” in 2009, for our Wheel Loader Personal Simulator
- Aggregates Manager “Top 25” in 2007, for our Off-Highway Truck Personal Simulator
- CCA “Hugh Montgomery Memorial Trophy” in 2006, for our Hydraulic Excavator Personal Simulator (Version 1)
- Construction Innovation Forum “Nova Award” in 2004, for our Mobile Crane Personal Simulator
Just like the “Personal Computer” brought computing to everyone, our “Personal Simulators” are bringing training simulation to everyone.
And today, after 23 years in business, Simlog is very much the world-wide standard in cost-effective simulation and a global supplier, with customers and Value Added Resellers in 72 countries around the world having trained well over half a million people.
So in our own small way, we’re making the world a better place by helping people learn to operate (dangerous) heavy equipment more safely, following best practices that are key to developing safe and productive operating habits.