The Montreal-based CM Labs has developed the crane industry’s first simulated signaller training solution.
Designed to work with CM Labs’ Vortex Trainer and Advantage simulators, the Signaller Training Station enables trainers to engage multiple students in a single exercise at the same time. While one apprentice operates a virtual crane via the Vortex simulator, another apprentice is able to use the Signaller Training Station to provide guidance.
The signaller trainee is able to move around a simulated worksite to inspect the lifting area, identify potential hazards, gain a clear view of site activity and provide hand signals to direct the crane operator via webcam and picture-in-picture display.
Together, the trainees either fail or succeed as a team. The result, according to CM Labs, is new operators that are prepared for any worksite, as they are learning critical skills required by the job before engaging with real cranes.
“From job planning to after-action review, collaborative learning builds effective teams,” said Lisa Barbieri, CM Labs’ vice president of marketing. “CM Labs’ new cooperative signaller station allows novice operators to train for effective teamwork and communications in a realistic and wholly risk-free environment.”
Barbieri explained embedding the trainee signaller in a working simulation increases trainee engagement and motivation, making the platform an ideal method to learn correct signaller and load positioning, proper hand signals, optimal lines of sight and safe direction of lift operations.
As well, instructors are able to monitor the entire operation via the CM Labs Instructor Operating Station, which provides scoring and reporting capabilities, as well as an ability to introduce challenges such as equipment malfunctions or weather events, at any time.
The Signaller Training Station is designed for use with all CM Labs crane operator training packs, including the flat-top and luffing tower cranes, crawler crane and rough terrain mobile crane.
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The benefit of the signaller station, according to CM Labs, is reduced training costs by having team members train in tandem, reduced demands on instructors and the ability for organizations to train operators in ways that may be too risky or expensive to replicate in real life.
The CM Labs LTC
The Signaller Training Station was introduced alongside CM Labs’ new Luffing Tower Crane Simulator Training Pack, at the Tower Cranes North America event held June 18 in Miami, Florida.
The Luffing Tower Crane (LTC) training pack is the first simulation-based LTC training platform on the market. The software is available for deployment across the full catalogue of Vortex Construction Equipment Simulators.
Vortex Construction Equipment Simulators are always-available instructional tools that have been shown to accelerate student operator training and reduce costs by up to 75 per cent.
“Cities are tight working environments with most mandating the use of luffing tower cranes for safety reasons,” said Seza Kouladjian, CM Labs’ technical product manager for cranes. “While training on a real crane is both difficult and dangerous, our LTC training pack changes this dynamic, making training safer for everyone.”
Built on the Vortex Studio simulation and visualization software, the LTC training pack provides a structured set of scenarios to promote crane skills development. The included load charts and lift plans build awareness of the crane’s capabilities and the tasks to be performed before starting operations.
Kouladjian explained the new nighttime operation mode will allow trainees to have the opportunity to gain experience working at any time of day, a feature unique to CM Labs simulations.
“A worksite looks very different at night because of site lighting,” Kouladjian said. “The simulated environment can help LTC student operators become acclimatized to the differences in shadows and perspective presented by nighttime operations.”
As well, the LTC training pack includes an expanded tool-set for training, mentoring and evaluation of students. Scoring for each scenario is now customizable, allowing the instructor to evaluate the operator’s performance, according to their own standards. Optional visualization tools allow the student operator to see the boom tip and hook block in relation to lift objects, providing a quick feedback tool for assessing depth.
The CM Labs Vortex Studio incorporates algorithms created by a team led by McGill University associate professor Dr. Jozsef Kövecses. The McGill University based team is dedicated to creating advanced physics-based mathematical models for use in virtual environments. In turn, the models are incorporated into CM Labs’ software to help make their simulations act and feel more lifelike.
Kövecses recently earned the 2018 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Synergy Award for Innovation for work that allows hyper-realistic simulation of the physical world, performed in collaboration with CM Labs.
Created in 1995, the NSERC Synergy awards program recognizes and rewards partnerships between academia and industries that lead to groundbreaking Canadian innovations.
“Characterizing and describing, what we can see in everyday life, in a more exact way with mathematical models presents many challenges,” said Prof. Kövecses. “We study the behaviour of moving physical objects, and we can use some very fundamental concepts to directly address practical applications.”
The award was presented by Julie Payette, the Governor General of Canada, Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan and NSERC President Mario Pinto at a ceremony held at Rideau Hall. As part of the prize, Prof. Kövecses also receives a $200,000 NSERC grant towards his research program.
“Prof. Kövecses has demonstrated critical thinking and creativity to produce breakthrough findings,” Pinto said.
Throughout the ongoing partnership with Prof. Kövecses’ team, CM Labs’ has developed simulators that are used around the world for applications such as training crane and earthmoving vehicle operators, optimizing port terminal operations and custom simulation of other land and sea-based vehicles. With more than 1,000 simulators operating on six continents, CM Labs’ products are hailed by drivers and equipment engineers for their accuracy and immersive capabilities. Dr. Arnold Free, CCO of CM Labs, sees the work being done with Prof. Kövecses’ McGill lab as crucial to the future of simulation.
“Our clients are looking to simulate more and more complex machines,” Free said. “Our continued work with Jozsef’s team allows us to accelerate the process in a way that’s beneficial to everyone involved.