Simulators have been used for decades for training commercial and military pilots. These machines were once extremely expensive, requiring a tremendously sophisticated installation that was used in such applications as training pilots on complex, multi-million dollar jets, where savings on jet fuel and the risk of loss of aircraft, made them cost effective.
As computers and virtual reality technology has decreased in price, simulations for other purposes have become available. A company that was a spinoff of the University of Buffalo has announced that they have developed a 3D virtual reality simulator for forklift operators. The training system will help companies train operators with “hands on” experience, but without the risk of damage to machinery, product and workers’ compensation claims for injured forklift operators.
Forklifts can be dangerous in many applications, from warehouses to construction jobsites. In recent years, OSHA reports that annually more than 80 workers die from forklift accidents and almost 35,000 suffer serious injuries.
The simulation software allows workers to be trained in a variety of uses of forklifts without any risk to man and machine. The software, which uses a combination of video gaming technology with actual steering wheel, joystick and pedals to provide workers with the experience of operating a forklift in a virtual warehouse.
The training allows a worker to gain mastery of the handling of the machine and lifting various loads in different warehouse settings. The company indicates that the training program using the software runs about three to four hours. The program is reasonably priced, and should easily pay for itself by providing better training and reducing worker injuries and workers’ compensation costs.
Source: OHSonline.com, “Virtual Reality Training Program Created for Forklift Operators,” Mar. 11, 2013