The use of virtual reality (VR) simulators as part of the assessment process of advanced operator training courses has been approved by the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) Council.
Approved training centres delivering IPAF’s PAL+ advanced Mobile Elevating Work Platform (MEWP) operator course now have the option of assessing candidates in a VR environment as an alternative to the standard assessment using real MEWPs and a specially constructed superstructure to operate around.
IPAF PAL+ is only open to existing valid Powered Access Licence (PAL) Card-holders and demonstrates a higher level of proficiency and dexterity in carrying out complex manoeuvres, as often required of contractors in advanced construction, manufacturing, engineering or processing applications.
Paul Roddis, IPAF’s Training Manager, says: “Our trials showed that VR simulators are well suited for testing control, observation and decision-making required for conducting various advanced-level operations and working intensively with the precision required in applications such as manufacturing, complex construction projects and the like.
“There’s been a huge amount of hard work put into making these assessment scenarios as lifelike in the VR environment as possible; the next step was to prove the technology using real training candidates under genuine assessment conditions.
“This required support and input from our Training Centre members to find out how best the VR technology can help them deliver IPAF courses most efficiently, and we are grateful to some of our leading Training Centres in the UK and North America for engaging with these live trials using real candidates.
“Thanks to the dedication and hard work of IPAF member firm Serious Labs, who have developed this sophisticated VR simulator and software platform, and with invaluable input from IPAF training providers, staff and members of the IPAF Training Committee, we are now fully satisfied that the simulated test was a fair and exact representation of an assessment using real machines under the watchful eye of a human instructor.
“Our instructors can be confident that candidates using simulators will have a good deal of prior time using real machines, and the VR assessment has been rigorously tested to ensure it transposes precisely the experience of operating a real MEWP.”
Jim Colvin, CEO of Serious Labs, comments: “It’s exciting to see this long-term project come to fruition. To see virtual reality technology be put through such careful and thorough testing by IPAF and its members and have such encouraging results gives us great confidence about the future of training in a simulated environment.”
Peter Douglas, IPAF CEO & MD, adds: “Following extensive development work and fine-tuning involving IPAF staff and member firms in Europe and North America, IPAF has now completed controlled trials involving some of its training members delivering PAL+ training, testing candidates using MEWP simulators instead of real machines.