The Velardeña mine, located in Mexico’s Durango State, is part of Industrias Peñoles, the world’s largest producer of silver.
The mine has been running Cybermine high-fidelity full mission simulators (FMS) as part of its training programme for nearly three years. Velardeña is a project vital to the development and economy of the region, with hundreds of jobs generated.
Velardeña received its fourth generation Cybermine simulators for the training of Sandvik DD320 drill rig and LH517 LHD operators in mid-2013. The mine operates over 10 drill rigs and 15 LHDs.
José Ignacio Porras, vice president of Americas at ThoroughTec, said: “ThoroughTec feels privileged to be a part of Velardeña’s advanced training programme. We’re confident the mine will see an even bigger improvement in workforce performance thanks to these additional training systems.”
The Cybermine E-learning system guides the workforce through a particular equipment’s basic controls and operation, as well as providing mine environment and site procedure orientation. The courses are incredibly interactive ensuring that learners are totally engaged and advance at their own pace. Learning in this way helps with memory recall and students are able to gain knowledge at a quicker pace. Examples include demonstrating the importance of personal protection equipment (PPE), conducting walk-around inspection, recognising and responding to hazards within the mine and identifying various signage.
Once the DD320 and LH517 operators have completed their E-learning course, they will move onto Velardeña’s new Cybermine OFT so they can familiarise themselves with the instruments and controls and all the equipment’s functions before entering the FMS phase. This supplementary system is intended to develop and entrench advanced, mine operator psycho-motor skills. Velardeña’s operators are taken through detailed exercises via an advanced interactive touchscreen incorporated with the cab’s controls. It is also designed to accommodate the interchangeable cabs not actively engaged in FMS training.
Carlos Macias, superintendent of training and development at Peñoles, said: “The biggest improvement that we have seen so far is the faster turnaround time to train a new operator. This decreases the total cost of training and accident risks significantly.”
According to Macias, when back in the field the operators are more familiar with all the health and safety regulations, which contributes to a safer environment and improved production.
When it comes to workforce productivity, Velardeña ensures that it trains its operators in an environment that requires them to operate the equipment efficiently, thus enhancing productivity. Macias explained: “We evaluate our operators continually to make sure that no bad habits creep in and only best operating practices are being applied.”
Not only have the Cybermine simulators been instrumental in training new operators, they have even improved the performance of experienced operators. Macias noted: “They’re definitely helping, the simulator is a tool that makes them remember good practice and helps us evaluate their proficiency.” As a result, it continuously improves the performance of Velardeña’s heavy equipment workforce.
Velardeña’s drill rig and LHD operators are not allowed to manoeuvre equipment without prior training on the Cybermine system. Macias said: “By doing this we reduce the risk and likelihood of an accident and at the same time reinforce the training of experienced operators. We use the simulator to recreate possible failures that can occur during the operation of the equipment, reinforce the importance of operating procedures and to make sure they know exactly what to do in an emergency.”
Once the training of new operators on the simulator is complete, the trainee is assigned to an instructor or expert operator. Macias concluded: “This is to continue putting into practice the knowledge and skills learned via all the Cybermine training systems.”