New CM Labs dozer simulator lets trainee operators “feel” the dirt

CM Labs, which develops simulators to train crane and other heavy equipment operators, has introduced a new training pack aimed at giving new dozer operators an immersive simulation.

The new Dozer Simulator Training Pack addresses common beginner challenges like setting blade angle correctly and learning how to maintain material in front of the blade, CM Labs says. However, the simulator also includes advanced training exercises such as excavating a drainage inlet and transversal ditch, and trailer loading/unloading.

But the key feature to this new dozer sim, the company says, is the way it allows trainees to “experience the unique feel of pushing soil and aggregate material.”

The training pack provides this type of immersive feedback by simulating the interaction between all of the simulator’s virtual elements—the soil, blade, transmission and engine. These represent all of the changing variables that you would expect to impact operation of the machine in the real world.

CM Labs says that when the six-way blade touches the soil in this new sim, the transmission and engine on the simulated dozer engage and react in a way that closely mimics the real thing. The tracks on the simulated dozer can even slip based on operator behavior, the company says, allowing trainees to learn precision techniques and efficiency.

“The blade, the transmission, the engine, the controls — if it’s somewhere between the operator and the dirt, it’s been simulated,” says Drew Carruthers, construction line manager for CM Labs.

But it’s not just the machine elements that CM Labs has given a thorough simulation. The Dozer Training Pack also includes CM Labs’ new soil simulation technology that first debuted earlier this year in its Excavator Simulator Training pack. This soil simulation is an advanced visualization that involved “decades” of development, the company says, and its presence in the new dozer and excavator training packs represents its first commercial application.

Like the company’s other earthmoving and crane training packs, the new Dozer Simulator Training pack can be run from CM Labs’ Vortex simulator. The simulator can also interact with CM Labs Instructor Operating Station which allows trainers to set custom scoring parameters and operating conditions that include inclement weather and night-time operations.

“Many simulators treat machine behavior as a kind of special effect that’s scripted into a training session,” Carruthers adds. “This results in unrealistic performance and overconfident trainees. But when operators train on a Vortex simulator, they’re not experiencing special effects. They’re experiencing the laws of physics.”

The simulator’s training exercises feature on-screen tips, best-practice hints and performance indicators that allow trainees to learn at their own pace or as part of an instructor-led curriculum.

The exercises also have multiple possible solutions, allow operators to fully flex their skill, creativity and judgment as if they were operating on a real jobsite.

For more information on CM Labs simulators, email or visit their website, here.