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Partnering for dragline success

14 November, 2006 - Perth Australia

DEVELOPMENT of world-first simulator training technology by Immersive Technologies and Anglo Coal Australia has been recognised at the third Annual Australian Mining Prospect Awards in Brisbane.

The two companies received the Innovative Mining Solution award for the Advanced Equipment Dragline Simulator now being used at Anglo Coal’s Callide coal mine in Queensland.

The award recognised both the “real mining improvements” made with the technology at Callide, and the technical breakthroughs achieved to enable realistic simulation of complex machine dynamics and ground interaction previously seen as too difficult.

Callide mine manager Rod Burgess said the AE Dragline Simulator at the mine was the first simulator of its type to be successfully developed and introduced at a mining operation anywhere in the world.

“We have used simulators for training operators of mining equipment such as trucks and excavators, but the complexity of a dragline made developing a simulator much more challenging,” he said.

“The simulator required complex dynamic models and the latest technology including new software architecture to support the high level of detail needed.”

Burgess said the AE Dragline Simulator was a reliable and highly cost effective way of overcoming one of the industry’s critical challenges – a severe shortage of trained and skilled dragline operators. He believes Callide can train a new dragline operator to 75% of the skill level of an average operator in half the time usually taken, using the AE Dragline Simulator.

This is expected to produce significant productivity, cost and safety gains at large coal mines.

“The simulator provides an opportunity for trainee operators to become familiar with the machine movements in a non-productive role which reduces losses and downtime, but also the level of anxiety for new operators,” Burgess said.

“The simulator also has a role to play in refresher and emergency procedure training for experienced operators.

“One of the great benefits is that it delivers detailed reports on the key indicators of an operator’s training performance to the trainer.

“This dragline simulator will be a valuable training tool for all of ACA’s opencut mines, but we also believe that this technology will become a training tool used throughout the world.”

Established in 1993, Immersive Technologies now has over 85 simulators being used by mine operators, contractors, equipment suppliers and training bodies in 17 countries worldwide.

After thorough consultation with ACA to develop base requirements for the AE Dragline Simulator, Immersive Technologies devised an intensive development plan based around exhaustive research of dragline operations, machine dynamics and the unique soil and machine interactions experienced with draglines.

The dragline provided greater challenges than did equipment such as trucks and shovels, where simulation of fixed point interaction was required. With draglines, the bucket, ropes and “jewellery” have complete freedom of movement and this necessitated complex dynamic modeling for realistic simulation.

An advanced mathematical model for hoist/drag ropes, enabling accurate simulation of the natural motion of high tensile steel ropes, and a “jewellery model” able to simulate various bucket positions, were complemented by a simulated drive system that could apply and receive correct bucket forces transferred through the drag and hoist ropes.

This means trainees can pick up vital instruction on operating errors such as dropping the bucket with too much force on the ground, hitting the bucket with the spreader bar while dragging, and stalling drag motors.

Next, Immersive Technologies advanced its proprietary VirtualGround technology to allow real-time, high-fidelity replication of bucket/soil interaction. The soil model realistically simulates digging behaviour, including the correct flow of soil and application of digging forces.

Simulation fidelity was also enhanced with the addition of real-time shadows cast from the machine and rigging, increasing user depth perception.

Each of the elements was central to creating a true immersive experience for a trainee, and to increasing learning retention.

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About Immersive Technologies

Immersive Technologies is the world's largest, proven and tested supplier of surface and underground Advanced Equipment Simulators to the global mining industry. The company has achieved this unique position by focusing on its mission to make every mining and earthmoving equipment operator in the world safer and their employer more profitable through its simulation technologies. Immersive Technologies' Advanced Equipment Simulators are helping hundreds of mining companies around the world to increase their equipment operators' safety and site profitability through effective simulation training.

Immersive Technologies provides its customers with the most effective Advanced Equipment Simulators available. This is made possible through the formal exclusive licensing and technical information alliances Immersive has established with the leading Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM), including: Caterpillar, Hitachi, Komatsu and Liebherr. These unique alliances provide Immersive Technologies with exclusive access to the OEM's proprietary and confidential machine technical information that is required to correctly simulate the OEM's machines and is not available through other public or dealer channels.

With advanced simulator modules deployed in 39 countries, Immersive Technologies is dedicated to provide outstanding service. To deliver on this commitment the company has customer sales and support offices located close to its customers in Perth and Brisbane Australia, Salt Lake City USA, Calgary, Ottawa & Vancouver Canada, Monterrey Mexico, Lima Peru, Santiago Chile, Bochum Germany, Johannesburg South Africa, Jakarta Indonesia, Kolkata India and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Immersive has the global mining experience, innovative technology, product range, OEM relationships, proven support commitment and industry vision to partner with you to ensure your simulator training solution delivers the significant results you expect.