05/01/2012 - 04:00 am

Three Winners Named in Crane Simulator Rodeo

During the North American Crane Bureau’s annual Professional Development Conference (PDC), held in November in Las Vegas, Nev., 36 individuals competed in the company’s 7th Annual Crane Simulator Rodeo. Three Rodeo Champions were named. Alan Gates, representing the U.S. Marine Corps, returned after getting second place in 2010 to earn the top score in the telescopic mobile crane category. The best tower crane operator was Jimmie Mims of DM Petroleum Operations Co. (formerly DynMcDermott). Mims, a recurring attendee to the PDC, is a crane training coordinator and inspector. First-timer Tylene Campbell, an overhead crane operator working for Boeing Aircraft, was the top overhead crane operator. About 225 people attended the week-long crane and rigging training conference. The Crane Simulator Rodeo was sponsored by The Crosby Group, Tulsa, Okla.

NACB Interactive Educational Systems Inc. (IES), Lake Mary, Fla., offers simulators for mobile telescopic cranes, overhead cranes, and tower cranes. Large scale simulators mimic the look and feel of a real crane cab, while desktop simulators are designed for portability and feature a touch screen monitor. Simulators are programmed to score the user based on certain operating criteria, such as height limitations, allowable swing, obstacle contact, etc., explained L.D. Stutes, NACB’s vice president sales and marketing. Operators are scored by staying within the parameters. Deductions are taken for faults or errors. Finalists usually score 100 percent accuracy. “We then consider the time it took for the exercise, down to 1/100th of a second. As the rounds expire, the difficulty increases.” Contestants proceed through three rounds to a championship round in order to determine the final winners.

Gates, who has served six years with the Marines, is currently the head of Equipment Operations for the Facilities Maintenance Division at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif. All of his equipment operator training has come from the military.

“The Facility Maintenance Division is similar to a public works department in the civilian world,” explained Gates. As well as other heavy equipment, the Division owns two rough-terrain cranes—a 50-ton Grove and 25-ton Lorain. As an example of the type of work performed with the cranes, Gates said he recently lifted old HVAC units off of a building.

“Our cranes are older so the simulator controls are different (levers versus joysticks) than what I’m used to,” said Gates. “However, I think the simulators are a good a tool for using load charts, understanding the impact of shock loads, and other operational scenarios.”

According to Stutes, interest in simulators has grown over the years. “The quality of crane operator training is significantly enhanced with the introduction of a simulator into a company’s own training repertoire,” he said. “There is a cost benefit of utilizing simulation vs. actual production equipment for training, especially in manufacturing and construction environments. Simulators improve the quality of training and increase the frequency of training.”

The 2012 PDC and 8th Annual Crane Simulator Rodeo will be held in November. Visit www.cranesafe.com for more information.

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