EDMONTON — Virtual reality training experts Serious Labs announced that their system is the first-ever to be granted approval for official heavy equipment license renewal training.
Serious Labs’ Mobile Elevating Work Platform (MEWP) VR Operator Training Simulator was approved by the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) for renewals of its Powered Access License (PAL) Card. The company noted this is the first time that heavy equipment operators have been allowed to renew their license by simulator without even touching a physical machine.
IPAF has issued over two million PAL Cards globally and its operator training is recognized in more than 51 countries. PAL Cards typically need to be renewed every five years.
“This is a major milestone for the safety and training industry,” said Jim Colvin, CEO of Serious Labs, in a statement. “The impact of this approval by such a trusted and esteemed organization as IPAF will make training renewals, and safety overall, more accessible and convenient. That will help save lives, increase uptime and reduce accidents. The fact that heavy equipment operators can now renew their license through simulation for the first time ever is a testament to the years of hard work by our team here at Serious Labs, as well as to the commitment to safety by the access industry as a whole.”
Serious Labs’ solution tests existing PAL Card holders through a VR-based replica of the IPAF 3a/3b practical test. Two scenarios go through a pre-use check on the machine, and a practical course, just as if the operator was controlling a real machine.
Serious Labs explained the course was created from the data and results of trials over the course of eight months. It uses an abridged theory session but the same practical session, based on ISO 18878 that is used in the standard 3a and 3b courses. The trial used experienced operators with a minimum three years’ experience who each held a valid PAL Card.
“It’s a mirror image of what you would do with the real machine, but the simulator comes to where you work, rather than you going to where the training course is being held,” said Darren Verschuren, international account director with Serious Labs. “For large construction projects, or even something like a remote work location, rather than the guys having to travel to a rental depot or training centre that might be two hours from their house, they just go to work as normal. And an IPAF Training Centre can bring the unit to them.”
Colvin said he believes the adoption of the VR testing represents part of a major industry shift.
“We are committed to continue to break through barriers – technologically, socially and culturally – to help bring the construction and rental industries into the 21st century by improving safety and human working conditions,” he said. “VR simulators are simply the future of efficient, safe and proficient operator training.”