When Training Requires Interacting Equipment (but no shared simulated world)

September 1st, 2023
Two Students Training Separately

The world is full of “work” that requires interaction between two people, and I’ll use tennis as a simple example.

Playing tennis requires two people, but you learn to play tennis by yourself, at least at the start, with coaching help: how to hold the racket properly, how to hit the ball properly, etc.

Indeed, the best players rely on what industrial psychologists call deliberate practice, i.e. they develop their skills by carefully concentrating on the various “components”, one at a time. Then once those components are mastered, it’s time to look for someone to play with/against.

About Interacting Heavy Equipment

In the heavy equipment world, work often requires interaction between two kinds of machines. For example, when a wheel loader is loading a truck, the wheel loader operator will

  • honk the horn to “get” the (empty) truck to stop backing up when the truck box is properly positioned under the wheel loader bucket
  • honk the horn again to “get” the truck to drive away when the truck box is full (to make room for the next truck)

This wheel loader/truck interaction is called “Truck Spotting”.

Training Should be “Personal”

At Simlog, our “Personal Simulators” are designed for “personal” training, because there’s just you in the simulated world.

So to help you train in the simulated world for equipment-to-equipment interaction like Truck Spotting, our wheel loader simulation software “plays the role” of the truck operator. In this way, when you, as the wheel loader operator, are learning to spot trucks, you are working with a (simulated) expert.

Three Kinds of Problems with “Team Training”

Other simulator companies promote “team training”, whereby a simulated world is “shared” so that you, a trainee at the controls of the simulated wheel loader, can interact with another trainee at the controls of the simulated truck.

But it’s easy to see that this kind of arrangement, with two trainees “learning” from each other, can lead to pedagogical, i.e. training problems, precisely because you are both trainees.

To see why, consider what an expert truck operator really does as part of Truck Spotting:

  • the truck won’t begin to back up until the wheel loader bucket is properly positioned
  • if the wheel loader operator honks the horn too early, the truck will continue to back up to position the truck box under the wheel loader bucket, and then stop
  • if the wheel loader operator fails to honks the horn when the truck box is properly positioned under the wheel loader bucket, the truck will stop by itself

Can you “count” on a truck operator trainee to do all that, every single time, so that the wheel operator trainee can properly learn Truck Spotting?

There are other problems too.

First, on practical level,  if the truck operator trainee is not available (called away, sick at home, etc.), then you as the wheel loader operator trainee can no longer practice truck spotting, because now there’s no truck to spot.

Second, on a technical level, if the truck simulator breaks down, or if the “linkage” between the wheel loader simulator and the truck simulator breaks down and now the simulated world can’t be shared, then you as the wheel loader operator trainee can no longer practice truck spotting, again because, again, there’s no truck to spot.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, there are pedagogical, practical, and technical problems associated with two trainees trying to learn together in a shared simulated world. And that’s why at Simlog, we believe in “personal” training.

And when training requires interaction, we also believe that it’s always best to be learning with a (simulated) expert.

To comment on anything you read here, please write to “info@simlog.com” with “blog” in the Subject, to direct your message to me.

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