More than 50 percent of reported underground utility damages are the result of insufficient excavation practices according to the 2017 DIRT Report. The Ditch Witch organization, a Charles Machine Works Company, has introduced an industry-first Virtual Reality (VR) Simulator to better prepare horizontal directional drill (HDD) operators for safe underground construction through cutting-edge training technology.
“Our next-generation HDD VR Simulator takes training to the next level by allowing operators to familiarize themselves with HDD equipment and experience a realistic jobsite without the potential risks of putting a novice operator in complex environment,” said Greg Wolfe, Ditch Witch director of training. “Combined with our comprehensive Certified HDD Training curriculum, the simulator provides operators with the proper training to safely and effectively complete an HDD jobsite project, without the pressure of consequences from mistakes.”
As the industry’s first simulator utilizing VR technology, it provides both novice and experienced HDD operators with a 360-degree view of a realistic jobsite — simulating a variety of soil conditions and installation applications so operators can learn how the drill reacts. Through a series of lessons that increase in difficulty, operators are evaluated and educated on machine functions, product location, damage prevention, extended bend radius and steering. The program emphasizes damage prevention by requiring operators to preplan, set up equipment correctly and test protective systems.
The full VR simulator kit includes a portable operator station, joystick, dongle, lead motion detector sensor and VR goggles. To truly simulate a real jobsite experience, the equipment is configured to replicate what operators see and feel, leveraging the same joysticks found on Ditch Witch HDD equipment.
HDD contractors and education centers looking to incorporate the latest HDD training technology into their program can purchase the simulator at their local Ditch Witch dealership.