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A real Toy Story: Aurora’s new mine demonstration model

Jan 29, 2020

When Damien Alexander was a youngster, he would spend hours playing with his backhoes, loaders and dump trucks. Little did he know that many years later, he would be using those same backyard skills to build a training model for new heavy equipment operators in his role as trainer at Aurora.

Before he joined Aurora’s Production training department, Damien spent 12 years in the mine as an operator and saw first-hand the challengesemployees would have performing certain tasks in the field.

“Whenever I saw someone needing a little extra coaching, I found that explaining the work through drawings or using random objects helped to paint a picture of the proper way to execute a job,” says Damien. When he moved into the training department, he pitched the idea of a scale model of the shovel face to his leadership.

Once he got the green light, Damien researched the best way to approach the project, including the “toys” as he calls them. But these replicas aren’t your average trucks. Each dozer, grader, excavator and shovel is built to scale of the original mine equipment. Damien created the shovel face with expanding concrete and constructed the “sandbox” in his home garage. Between internet research for design, ordering the models and constructing everything, the project took over six weeks from start to finish.

The model helps operators better understand correct positioning for the shovel operators to perform their tasks. It is meant to support, not replace, the established computer-based and field training.  The benefit is that trainers, mentors and trainees can access it when they just need to talk through proper positioning in the field. The fact that that all parts are moveable helps frame a mental image for the worker.

“This is a great hands-on way to train operators and let them see and practice the angles rather than just learning online,” says Lowen Hurford, Team Leader, Training.  “It gives another perspective than what they see from the driver’s seat and really makes the difference for operators who need a different vantage point.”

Damien says that the end goal with the model is to give people the proper tools to be successful in their job. “I am excited to see how this project grows and develops; it is a simple concept but is proving to be effective for those who have used it so far.”