Global advancements in mine automation, remote monitoring, control technologies and improvements to equipment operator interfaces have created many new opportunities for mining companies to improve their health and safety while increasing productivity, says training and workforce development solutions provider Immersive Technologies product manager Ravitha Sukumaran.
However, these advancements have also resulted in new challenges with regard to skills shortages, and workforce training and development, she tells Mining Weekly.
“While the economic, social and environmental benefits of adopting these new technologies and interfaces are clear, the lack of an effective approach to workforce training and development can significantly impact on these benefits if they are not considered upfront and managed properly.”
She notes that Immersive Technologies developed the use of blended learning systems, simulation and related metrics to address the workforce development and training needs of the labour market in mining. The company provides an effective and consistent way of training, measuring, assessing and optimising the skills of a workforce without affecting production.
“Immersive Technologies is the only global supplier of mining simulator systems with comprehensively proven and published business improvement case study data arising from effective deployment of our technology solutions. We are a company that has built its reputation on solutions that achieve measurable and verifiable returns and we can ensure that clients receive the outcomes expected from this investment.”
Sukumaran notes that the company’s commitment to research and development has been core to its progress and continued growth. It focuses on listening to the challenges in the mining sector and develops solutions to best address them.
Meanwhile, automation in the mining industry is transforming the nature of work performed by people on site and in the back office, subsequently requiring that miners redefine those roles and retrain people to use new technology. The key focus is to develop new skills so that people can meet the new job requirements, she explains.
“Immersive Technologies is at the forefront of in-field workforce development for autonomous and remote mining operations and has pioneered the use of blended learning systems, simulation and related metrics to address the implementation risks related to autonomous and remote mining operations,” Sukumaran puts forward.
Over the last four years, the company has been trialling the combination of its proprietary simulation technologies with the latest wearable virtual reality (VR) hardware in various workplace applications. Worksite VR Quest is a three-dimensional computer-generated environment where the users can virtually experience, engage and understand surface and underground environments, safety hazards and emergency situations. Users are immersed within the worksite and able to manipulate objects or perform a series of safety actions.
From pre-employment screening to supervisor training, WorksiteVR Quest is a cost-effective tool to reduce hiring costs, improve safety awareness, increase identification of safety and productivity risks and build confidence when facing emergency events.
“As the uptake of VR continues, Immersive Technologies will be at the forefront of development and effective application to address industry needs.”
Another growth area where the company has noted increased client interest is Operator Performance Analytics.
The service is structured to take a complex, time consuming task from clients and present it in a way that allows them to make confident and accurate decisions in a timely manner.
These analytics provide rich insights, from an entire workforce to individual personnel, as well as the level of impact of specific behaviours on an operation.
This insight highlights the opportunities for breakthrough performance improvements and the actions required to achieve them, Sukumaran concludes.