In October 2022, we assembled top executives and trainers from some of the most successful crane simulator training programs in the world for a panel discussion. If you missed the event, here are the top 5 secrets to training center success that were discussed at the conference:
Secret to Success #1: Strong Leadership
We’ve seen companies who are over-the-moon excited to have a training center installed but then never develop a system to actually use it. But when a member of the company proactively steps forward or is appointed to be in charge of the training program, the company finds that the passion of that leader is contagious. Many companies have one or more full-time employees–former crane operators–whose sole role is to run the simulation training program. They bring their wisdom and experience to the training scenarios and get the whole company excited and involved. And when companies have a training program that is running smoothly the whole company benefits from passionate new employees who are not only familiar with the equipment but prepared to run it safely.
Secret to Success #2: A Plan and Clear Process
Our training simulators come pre-loaded with several general crane training scenarios, but every company is unique, working in specific locations and conditions that require customizable training. This is why having a plan and process in place is so vital to training center success. As you consider the best training strategies for your company, you may ask questions such as:
What are our company goals? What do we want our operators to be able to learn and be capable of before they transition to real equipment? What is a realistic time frame for our training goals? How can my company utilize the training simulations generally, but also, what specific scenarios would be helpful for our company’s unique processes?
Once a successful training plan is in place, there will be opportunities for trainers to monitor and learn from the data collected as a new employee proceeds through the training. And part of a successful training plan should include evaluating and making adjustments to the general and individual training based on the information gathered through the simulator.
Secret to Success #3: Build Muscle Memory First
We’ve heard it from many companies and ports. Muscle memory is the key. Training through different scenarios gives new operators a foundation of how a crane is supposed to react and feel and work. And with a successful simulator training program, new operators have already reached a significant level of muscle memory before they ever set foot in the actual equipment.
Simulation also speeds up training time, giving a student more time behind the controls to practice challenging situations safely. Without simulation, a student’s training is often extended because experienced operators will take control of a crane during a tricky situation to help avoid dangerous accidents. Simulation also saves money and potentially lives as a student learns for themselves how to avoid dangerous, costly mistakes, and also how to correctly respond when something does go wrong.
Secret to Success #4: Utilize the Technology Effectively
A dedicated trainer who has real-world crane experience understands both what the simulator is capable of and how the simulator experience translates to the real thing. A former crane operator who is now responsible for training is in a unique position to teach the limitations of the simulator and train new operators to be aware of unique real-world situations. Experienced trainers can create a customized training plan that prepares new operators to be prepared for difficult scenarios, and flexible in transitioning between different ports and various crane-use techniques, taking full advantage of the training center’s technology–especially when it comes to safety scenarios which you can’t set up and train on in the real world. The simulator can help a trainer discover where a student needs more practice or coaching which can then take place in a safe environment.
And if you ever need help setting up a unique training scenario, or want to better understand how to use the training technology in certain situations, give us a call and we can work together to create exactly what you need.
Secret to Success #5: Create Unique Scenarios
We’ve already discussed this point but we can’t stress it enough. Our training centers come with twelve general crane training scenarios, which is a great place to start. But the most successful companies have created as many as 60 additional unique scenarios that prepare their future operators to be prepared for the real crane scenarios they’ll face. Trainers have created everything from wind and height simulation to crane fail situations, distraction scenarios, challenging off-loading techniques, unique processes that vary between individual yards and ports, and much more. Every scenario that a future crane operator can be trained on, with repetition, in the safe simulation environment, prepares them to be confident and safe employees while providing companies with security and reassurance that they’ve got a capable operator behind the controls.
We’ve been fortunate to have customized and installed crane simulators for some of the best in the business and it was rewarding to facilitate their sharing of their expertise with other simulation training centers.