The Operating Engineers Training Institute of Manitoba (OETIM) is a joint Labour/Management non-profit organization with a primary directive of providing training to people in the crane and heavy equipment industries in the Canadian province of Manitoba. OETIM is affiliated with the Construction Sector Council, Apprenticeship Branch of Manitoba, the Canadian Operating Engineers Joint Apprenticeship Training Council (COEJATC), and the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE).
OETIM's mandate is to deliver "extensive training to any individual interested in pursuing the field of hoisting and heavy equipment operation." As the current workforce in North America continues the process of turning over, the employment and skills gap must be filled by new, skilled operators. According to OETIM Program Coordinator/Instructor Jordan James, "We did not have enough equipment to support all of our students."
To address this issue in the past, OETIM was forced to rent additional equipment, including mobile cranes. James notes, "Renting cranes is expensive, and with all the different crane types out there, renting really isn't a feasible long-term option when it comes to training a new generation of operators."
With those conditions in mind, OETIM set out to find a way to supplement their existing equipment fleet with additional hands-on, practical training opportunities, while keeping additional costs as low as possible.
James and Executive Director of OETIM, Betty Lou Doerksen, previously considered mobile crane simulators as a possible solution to the challenge at hand, but cooled on the idea mainly because of two main factors:
ITI VR, and the Desktop Mobile Crane Simulator in particular, caught James' eye precisely because his two main drawbacks of screen-based simulator options were addressed. "The benefit of having multiple crane types available on a single simulator is a huge benefit, not to mention cost-effective," James noted. He continued, "ITI VR was initially appealing primarily due to the substantially lower cost of the simulator and the improved immersion in virtual reality compared to other options. Additionally, self-guided learning through simulation via the ITI VR learning management system and various training plans was important to us."
OETIM joined the ITI VR Community as one of the first members of the ITI VR Beta Program. This allowed James and the other instructors at OETIM access to a desktop unit before the full simulator was available to the market. In exchange for this early access, Beta Program members agreed to provide feedback to the development team all in an effort to create the most realistic training environment possible.
At the conclusion of the Beta Program, OETIM implemented the Desktop VR Mobile Crane Simulator as a part of its training program for apprentices. They now have an additional option to get apprentices seat time in a hydraulic or lattice boom crane (Tadano GR-1000 or Link-Belt 218HSL), with more options on the way. James is thrilled at the early returns from ITI VR, "Having the VR Simulator available as a training option has helped us stand out as a training institute. Every time I put on the headset I am surprised at the immersion and realism. Every time we receive updates we have been impressed by what we've seen, and it just keeps getting better. Keep the updates coming!"
James and OETIM are excited about the upcoming feature releases which will include a 600-ton class crawler crane, boom truck, carry deck, and overhead crane.