Operator Certification and Training Simulation

December 19th, 2018
Real and Simulated Forklift Slalom Course

All around the world, operator certification is growing in importance to make heavy equipment operations safer by imposing (minimum) standards on what you need to know and what you need do at the controls of real heavy equipment (cranes, excavators, forklifts, etc.).

Think about cars. When you “know enough”, you get your Learner’s Permit. But to get your Driver’s License, you need to “do enough” at the controls of a real car with an inspector in the seat beside you, watching how well you perform standardized tasks such as changing lanes in traffic, and parallel parking.

Well when it comes to operator certification for cranes, excavators, and forklifts, the same applies: you need to know enough and then do enough.

And in different parts of the world, there are different “normative” agencies that have developed standardized “Theory Exams” to test that you know enough, and standardized “Practical Exams” to demonstrate that you can do enough. Examples of such agencies in the United States include OSHA, the National Safety Council, the NCCCO, and NCCER.

Training Simulation to Prepare for Operator Certification

Because operator certification requires real heavy equipment, training simulation can only serve as a “getting ready” step to prepare for that certification.

And preparing in the right way means three things:

  1. To ensure that operating skills transfer from the simulated world to the real one, the simulation functionality (graphics, physics, etc.) must be sufficiently realistic. This also means you are moving your hands and feet as if you were in a real cab, and seeing and hearing as if you were in a real cab.
  2. The simulated tasks must be sufficiently “aligned” with the real world tasks that you’ll need to perform for certification, i.e. they should resemble the machine-specific tasks that the real world “Practical Exams” require.
  3. Finally, because you can be certified at the controls of any suitable make and model (just like you can get your Driver’s License at the controls of any kind of car), training simulation should be “OEM neutral”, i.e. it should concentrate on developing the “core skills” that are common to all makes and models.