Norilsk Nickel’s Polar Division is looking to upskill its mine operator workforce by rolling out a simulator program that will see personnel become familiar with the majority of self-propelled diesel equipment at its underground mines.
The company plans to spend $3.2 million on simulators to train operators of loading and hauling machines, dump trucks, underground self-propelled vehicles, blasthole drills, etc to operate this equipment safely and efficiently.
“Due to the wide breadth of transferable skills put into practice over the course of the modules, personnel trained on simulators will be able to operate almost all types and brands of equipment used in Nornickel’s mines,” the company told IM. “These include several dozen types of machines, among them LHDs, scalers, drill rigs, self-propelled roof-bolters, mining haul trucks, etc from various manufacturers.”
Specifically, the list includes Sandvik LH514s, Caterpillar R1700s, Epiroc ST14s, Sandvik TH540s, Epiroc MT42s, Sandvik DD421/DD321s, Sandvik DD422is, Epiroc L2Ds, Sandvik DL421s, Sandvik DS411s and Epiroc Boltecs.
The existing fleet of simulators at Nornickel’s Corporate University comprises two basic simulators, three replaceable modules and two fixed modules, but, with this training program expansion, the university should receive two basic simulators and seven modules in the December quarter of 2021.
The company explained: “Each new simulator comprises three parts. The first part is a server room responsible for the operation of the simulator. The second is a module containing self-propelled diesel equipment identical to a certain type of equipment in use in our mines. The replaceable module gives a student the opportunity to practice in 7D mode (the combination of 3D images with other dimensional interactions); module replacement takes 15 minutes. The third part houses the instructor’s workplace.”
According to experts, the use of simulators and related teaching methods enable mining equipment operators to reduce errors by up to 70%, Nornickel said. These tools also reduce the duration of unplanned downtime associated with the incorrect use of equipment by up to 30%, increase the lifespan of equipment by up to 25% due to reduced wear, and decrease the frequency of equipment replacement and repair by up to 25%, it added.
“It is important to us to provide our personnel with the means to improve their skills and fluency in operating specialised equipment,” the company said. “An additional advantage of the new simulators is that they can help personnel improve their problem-solving skills by presenting opportunities to work out complex technological operations and other difficult situations without compromising production.”