How Do You Conduct Hands-on Training Without Access to Machinery?

The Problem

Aurizon had an expensive problem. Trainee drivers and shunters obviously need instruction using real locomotives and freight wagons. The problem is that those operational resources need to be pulled out of production for days and days at a time — which means they’re not generating revenue. That’s big dollars lost every time you need to train up a new cohort of drivers. And given that the requirement for new drivers corresponds to increase in demand for haulage, it was a double whammy.

What if there was a way to kill two birds with one stone? Could the need for locos and wagons be reduced while maintaining the standard of training?

Our Solution

It turns out, yes. This video gives you a sneak-peak at the solution. Over 20 modules faithfully replicating real-world procedures; integrated strategically into the existing face-to-face curriculum.

Trainees spend the first weeks learning all the procedures in a life-sized VR shunt yard. Each trainee has significantly more opportunity to practise and receive feedback from instructors. They can re-do the activities as many times as they like — night or day; rain, hail, or shine. All the usual safety risks of taking a group of trainees into a live operational environment disappear.

By the time they’re ready to practice on actual locos and wagons, their confidence has improved. They know exactly what is expected. They’ve already nailed the radio communications protocols. They’ve practised manipulating virtual hoses, air cocks, testing equipment, and in-cab controls dozens and dozens of times. They know what all the parts are called. And the consequences of not doing things correctly are clear.

The Impact

While trainees have been gaining this head start, the locomotives and wagons that would otherwise be offline have been out there continuing to generate revenue.

It took a dedicated team well over a year to pull this off and we are so proud of the end product. Aurizon is stoked, too. Increased safety, faster pathway to competency, huge cost savings… what’s not to like?

If your organisation does any kind of heavy equipment training, do a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation: If, in your training programs, you reduced the use of real, actual haul trucks, tower cranes, dozers, harvesters, tracked fellers, scrapers, etc. by half… how much would you save? What does that add up to over the next five years?

One of our specialists would be more than happy to have a chat if that’s something you’re interested in. In the meantime, please leave a comment or question on the video. We’re really keen to hear what you think.

Taylor Hobbs

Creative Director