How a Mining Training Simulator Can Make a Mine More Productive

A mining training simulator can ensure personnel work safely and boost production in the mining industry. There are few more hazardous environments than the deep underground tunnels of a mine. For example, water constantly filters in from the surrounding aquifers and requires the continuous use of pumps to control the extent of flooding.

In addition, the pockets of methane and other flammable gases known as “firedamp” that can often form in a mine pose even more of a threat. A spark from an earth-moving machine, a vehicle, or a pick striking rock could trigger an explosion and produce a fireball that will consume everything and everyone in its path. Miners must depend on underground ventilation systems to disperse atmospheric dust and dilute flammable gases.

A mine tunnel is continuously subjected to immense overhead and lateral pressures from the surrounding rock. Consequently, effective anchoring systems, often known as “rock bolts”, are crucial to prevent rock falls that could trap miners and threaten their lives.

The mining training simulator and safety

The dangers described above and all the hazards to which miners are exposed daily can be overcome. They can be largely eliminated by ensuring that all underground workers are thoroughly trained to perform their assigned operations while prioritising safety requirements.

That said, there are inherent risks in training inexperienced mine workers underground. But, although they may be significantly safer on the surface, how can one expect them to develop vital practical skills in a classroom? In practice, this is not only possible but highly effective.

The lessons don’t involve whiteboards, overhead projectors or conventional visual teaching aids. Instead, the novice miners will be seated at a PC and subjected to an experience similar to a computer game. Detailed 3D reproductions of underground tunnels and equipment replace the real thing, allowing trainees to interact with equipment using a keyboard and mouse or, in some cases, touch-screen technology. The results of their various activities are also displayed, allowing them to enjoy their success or keep trying until they can get them right every time.

An accidental spark in a simulated scenario cannot cause an actual fire or explosion and will pose no threat to life and limb. However, the image of the possible consequences on the screen serves as a powerful message that will not easily be forgotten. Nevertheless, although a mining training simulator can help avoid all the many hazards to which trainee miners would otherwise be exposed if taught on the job, this is just one of several valuable benefits that simulated training technology can offer the mining industry and many others.

Some additional benefits of using a mining training simulator

That so many diverse industries have embraced simulated learning programmes speaks volumes about its advantages. While most people are aware of the sophisticated flight simulators employed by airlines and their role in pilot training, far fewer may know of the many similar applications that are helping to improve competency and productivity in other fields.

Medical students and nurses use simulations to practice suturing techniques, injections, catheterisation and other basic healthcare tasks before performing them on patients. Even experienced surgeons use this technology to develop or practice new techniques. Whatever the application, the benefits are numerous and similar and include the following:

  • Faster results: Time can be crucial in mining operations. Allocating teaching duties to experienced personnel means fewer lengthy periods of absence to achieve meaningful progress using conventional methods.
  • Compelling experience: The experience of a simulated but lifelike scenario encourages participation as effectively as the computer gaming technology it relies on. Trainees become eager to “beat the machine” and, in doing so, will perfect new skills in hours that might otherwise have required days to master.
  • Significant cost savings: There are inherent risks in allowing novices to practice operating costly equipment. Additional wear and tear and occasional damage due to misuse and the cost of repairs or replacement are eliminated when developing essential practical skills with a mining training simulator.
  • Improved productivity: Simulations allow learners to learn from their mistakes, repeating tasks until they become intuitive and ensuring the efficiency necessary to meet and exceed production targets.

Purchasing a mining training simulator

Contact SimGenics to join South Africa’s electricity-generating, shipping and petrochemical industries and desalination plants to perfect training at your mine, enhance safety, cut costs and boost productivity.

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