Race fans are thrilled to see cars back on the track. For Cat Racing’s Tyler Reddick, the shutdown meant extra time with his son, Beau, but it also meant staying sharp on a simulator until he could get back behind the wheel.
Simulators are also an important part of what Caterpillar does for dealers and customers. While nothing can replace the stick time someone gets when training in a machine, simulators offer a great way to get started, whether it’s introducing a new operator to the feel for controls or giving an experienced operator the opportunity to refine skills. Troy Bombardier travels around the world for Caterpillar supporting dealers and customers doing training on simulators. For him, the biggest value is safety.
“When I worked in the mining industry, I used to be in a pickup truck with 200-ton trucks, large wheel loaders, shovels, or large excavators all around me,” Bombardier said. ”I had to stay out of the way, but still communicate with the people I was training on machines. If I see someone doing something wrong on a simulator we can stop, have the conversation, understand the consequences and I can even jump in and show them something and they can get back in. We can get about 80% of our training done, so when I put a person in a real machine, typically in the first 10 minutes that person is able to go into a productive state. Customers aren’t shutting down a machine for two or three days of training to where the machine is in zero productivity.”
Putting In The Work
Reddick also spends significant time on a simulator, one with an elevated platform that allows him to feel much of what he feels in the No. 8 car during a race. He credits the work his crew chief Randall Burnett and the team did on that with their strong finish at Darlington.
“It really just goes to show how dialed in and close it really can be,” Reddick said. “We had a driver that had never made a lap there in that style of race car, so we’re relying on tire data. We have no experience with that tire on a cup car there. We were strictly going off what we saw through the simulator.”
Bottom Line Savings
Training is critical when it comes to Cat® machines. For example, the most expensive part on a tracked dozer or excavator is the undercarriage. Representing 50% of the machine’s owning and operating costs. Properly trained operators can make the difference. Improper usage can cause premature wear on components and the track itself. It also reduces production and increases fuel consumption. Cat Simulators measure track slip throughout the exercises and customers can use this report to find out which operators need extra training.
“And it’s also a lot cheaper,” said Carter Gibbons, an instructor at the Caterpillar Demonstration and Learning Center in Edwards, Illinois. “You don’t spend all that time in the machine burning fuel when there’s a lot of that stuff you can do in a simulator in a controlled environment and make sure that they know the proper procedures before they ever get on the machine.”