Svoboda adds, The days are gone of strictly on-the-job training. The cost of the machines, more complex features and controls and the need to be more efficient have made it more important that operators receive uninterrupted training to understand and get the full benefit of all information presented.
Elements of structured training
Operator training is available through most local equipment dealers. For example, Empire Caterpillar offers four different training levels, depending upon the experience of the operators and the goals of the customer. We can also develop custom courses to address very specific production or maintenance issues, says Kell.
To assess individual training needs, Empire Caterpillar can perform (and recommends) a site survey. The site survey allows us to produce a cost/benefit analysis prior to scheduling training courses. It also allows us to target the proper level of training and prioritize the courses based on value to the customer, Kell explains.
In most cases, training is then conducted on the customers site using their equipment. However, Empire Caterpillar has also constructed a training site in Eloy, AZ, to assist customers who are unable to have training conducted at their location.
Most operators can benefit from high-quality operator training, Kell asserts. Equipment technology is rapidly changing, new techniques are developed to make use of that technology and few operators have attended formal operator training.
Structured training programs can be tailored to the needs of a particular set of operators.
We offer a structured program that can be done at one of our learning centers or on the jobsite, says Sims. The key benefits are that the operators are learning the most efficient and safest methods of operation, with the ability for our instructors to demonstrate what we teach.
The training provided typically depends on current operator skill level. Komatsu offers different levels of training, but requires students to have experience and qualifications by industry standards on similar types of equipment, says Svoboda.
Likewise, Caterpillar prefers to train operators with a core skill set. We offer all levels of training, from someone who has never been on the machine all the way through really experienced operators who want to be recognized for their skills, says Sims. We prefer the Level II class ? the operator who has experience. Let us spend some time with him and make him a better operator.
The length and content of the training is based on operator experience. But we never leave without teaching them how to move material with the machine, says Sims. With experienced operators, Level II and up, the goal is to teach them a lot more about technique.
We typically target our classes for four to six operators and we spend two and a half days with them, he says. We provide classroom instruction, walk-around inspections and hands-on training and demonstration. We use our training curriculum, PowerPoints and videos, and the use of a simulator is in the near future.
The class can be tailored to meet the unique needs of a specific contractor, including instruction on the latest technologies. Through the Connected Worksite Group, we offer training on all of the AccuGrade equipment, including GPS, laser, Universal Total Station (UTS) and CAES, Sims indicates.
Caterpillar starts its classes with a written safety test, on which all operators are required to score 100%. They are then given a written knowledge test, which requires a score of at least 80%. Next, operators proceed to physical tests on the machine. If they pass the course, they are certified. If an individual didnt meet the standard, we tell them what they need to work on in order to pass the next time they take the test. They take a period of time and practice, and we get a lot of return people, says Sims.
VISTA starts its training programs by sending its trainers to the jobsite to observe operators firsthand. We will evaluate their skill, then we will train them in the classroom, says Longstaff. The instructors then take them out to the machines and coach them in operation. VISTA trains operators at all skill levels, but the training for less skilled operators will take longer.