Benefits of Simulation-Based Training for the Construction Industry

Simulation-based training isn´t the sole solution to the challenges faced by the construction sector, but it is undoubtedly a tool with several advantages that help us bridge the gap.

Three users , each operating a hauler, an excavator, and an avatar, collaborating in the same exercise.
Three users , each operating a hauler, an excavator, and an avatar, collaborating in the same exercise.
Tenstar Simulation

The construction industry in the United States faces some complex challenges in the future. Over 40% of the current workforce will retire within the next 10 years, and in 2024 alone, the construction sector will need to attract almost 342,000 new workers to meet the labor needs. This is according to a recently developed model by Associated Builders and Contractors.

“The construction industry must recruit hundreds of thousands of qualified, skilled construction professionals each year to build the places where we live, work, play, worship, learn, and heal,” said Michael Bellaman, ABC (Associated Builders and Contractors) president and CEO, in February of 2023.

“As the demand for construction services remains high, filling these roles with skilled craft professionals is vital to America’s economy and infrastructure rebuilding initiatives.” 

In the ever-evolving landscape of the construction industry, skilled operators are crucial for the successful and safe completion of projects. As technology continues to reshape the way we build, simulated training has emerged to prepare construction operators for the challenges they probably will encounter on the job.

Simulation has been a well-proven educational tool for many years, and for several professions, it is even a required part of the training before ever handling a real machine. For example, flying an aircraft is nearly impossible without proper training, and most of all, it can be very costly and put lives at risk.

Here we will delve into some of the benefits of simulation-based training, tailored to the construction industry. Safety, cost efficiency, and time savings are just some benefits. Let’s break it down. 

First Out is Safety

Safety is paramount in construction, where the risk of accidents is inherent. With a simulator, the operators can practice extreme situations and operations safely and without stress without risking injury or machine damage. The conditions can be practiced repeatedly to learn and understand the operation. This proactive approach to safety fosters a culture of risk awareness and mitigation. 

Realistic Operations

Construction operators often work with heavy machinery and specialized equipment. Simulated training allows aspiring operators to practice operating these machines in a virtual environment that closely mirrors real-world conditions. This realistic experience enhances their proficiency in handling complex equipment, ensuring they are well-prepared for on-site operations.

Cost-effective Learning

The construction industry often involves high costs associated with equipment, materials, and potential project delays. A simulator is a wise investment with low operating costs and minimal downtime. Compared to a real machine, the operating cost of a simulator is just a fraction of the cost. This reduces training expenses and eliminates the risk of equipment damage during the learning process.

Save Time

Simulators enable users to gain more training hours, unaffected by seasonal and weather constraints. Furthermore, users can practice independently with minimal supervision from an instructor. In addition, practicing in a safe and relaxed environment provides more effective learning.

Environmental Benefits

For the construction industry, the environmental benefits of simulated training are significant and contribute to sustainable practices. Traditional training methods often involve transporting aspiring operators to physical training sites or bringing heavy machinery to training locations, which are both time- and fuel-consuming. Simulation training in a virtual environment is a more accessible and eco-friendly option. Producing and running a simulator leaves a minimal climate footprint compared to a machine running on fossil fuels. Training in real machines is necessary, but simulated training is a perfect complement to foster a more environmentally responsible approach and promote eco-friendly practices.

Effective as an Educational Tool

Analyzing user performance in simulation training offers multifaceted benefits. This process involves quantitative assessment, enabling the identification of strengths and weaknesses in an operator's skills. Real-time feedback and scenario-specific evaluations contribute to immediate improvement, while performance benchmarking allows for comparisons against industry standards. The data-driven insights obtained from this analysis inform adaptive learning paths, competency mapping, and documentation for certifications and compliance. Ultimately, the ability to scrutinize user performance enhances training effectiveness, promotes individual skill development, and aids organizations in making informed decisions for safer and more proficient construction operations.

Practice Cooperation

In reality, many operations at a construction site require collaboration between several machines and operators. Practicing this in real life can be cumbersome, expensive, and even dangerous. Therefore, the advantages of practicing this in a simulation are many. Some simulators allow machines and people to interact in the same virtual space.

One example of a scenario is where an excavator loading an articulated hauler. The hauler transports the soil to the dozer that works on a landfill. One or several site supervisors supervise all this, directing and instructing the machine operators. In this virtual space, the operation is entirely safe, time- and cost-effective. And, of course, no fossil fuels are consumed, which makes this a greener solution. 

Complementary Solution

Simulation-based training isn´t the sole solution to the challenges faced by the construction sector, but it is undoubtedly a tool with several advantages that help us bridge the gap. We can train more people to become advanced operators, ready to work on our sites across the U.S. Operators will still need to train in real machines, but the learning process can be done more effectively. As the industry progresses, the incorporation of simulation training is positioned to be a critical factor in shaping a new generation of adept, safe, and environmentally conscious operators.