Forklift Truck Driver Simulator: Introducing The New Training Device That Could Improve Safety In The Workplace Whilst Reducing Accidents
Earlier this year Tactus Technologies developed the first video game like reality training program, specifically designed to help train a forklift truck driver. The company hopes that the product will help to reduce the number of injuries and deaths which stem from the misuse of forklift trucks.
The simulation program, creatively named the 3D Forklift Trainer, allows a prospective forklift truck driver to practice from the safety of an armchair through video game like system. A depth has been added to the simulation through the inclusion of a steering wheel, joystick and pedals. The program tests prospective drivers in a variety of simulated environments which include railway tracks, elevators and warehouses.
Jim Mayrose, the chief executive at Tactus explained that the simulator came into being due to a “need to improve operator readiness.” Figures from the Operating Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revealed that improper forklift actions account for over 100 fatalities and a staggering 100,000 injuries each year. The Tactus co-founder and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Buffalo University, Thenkurussi “Kesh” Kesavadas said “Until just recently, such virtual reality technology programs were only available to the military and university laboratories. By pioneering the use of gaming technology and computers into our software, we are able to provide our 3D forklift simulator at a low and reasonable cost for safe industrial training.” Kesavadas is also the director of the Virtual Reality Lab at Buffalo University.
Currently, forklift truck driver training often consists of a blend of classroom based lessons and lectures which feature videos and observational scenarios. After this students are provided with “on the job” training which places them in the driving seat of a forklift truck. “The problem,” Mayrose said “is that this type of training is largely passive as opposed to interactive.”
The simulator was funded through a financial grant from the Operating Safety and Health Administration. Recent reports have consistently demonstrated that the simulator lessons conform to the stringent OSHA guidelines.
The lesson plans included in the simulator require students to react to a range of safety challenges. These challenges include ramps, elevators and moving people, which are designed to reinforce the use of corrective measures for these future drivers. Each driver gains a personal profile which charts their progress whilst also evaluating their performance. Reports state that on average it takes an operator between three to four hours to complete the training program.
“Companies which are using our product will find that they have shorter training circles with less supervision needed and, most importantly, a safer environment” Mayrose said. After the initial purchase, customers will receive a full licence for their forklift trainer software, a customised computer, in addition to a steering wheel and set of pedals. Optional features include a 60-inch screen and specialised forklift-type seating. A commercial version of the software is available which includes a standard warehouse environment. The software is fully customisable so that it can be adapted to match the environment of the company.