At the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) INNOVATE event in Chicago today, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada-based Serious Labs, the world leader in virtual reality solutions for training and operations of heavy equipment such as cranes and mobile elevating work platforms, announced it is working in conjunction with IPAF to develop PAL+ VR training modules.
PAL+ training, which can be completed for the first time on a VR simulator, tests existing Powered Access Licensed-Registration (PAL) Card holders at a more advanced level than required for the PAL Card operator license. Completion of the course will also renew a PAL Card holder’s license for another five years. IPAF’s PAL Cards are recognized worldwide as proof of the highest standard in MEWP operator training.
As part of the event’s “Innovation Stations,” which featured new products and technology, United Rentals exhibited a Serious Labs’ MEWP VR simulator, demonstrating a preview of the new PAL+ training modules to industry attendees.
“Operating access equipment on a worksite requires a high level of training and awareness,” said Serious Labs CEO Jim Colvin. “When you combine the dangers of the worksite with a lack of operator competency, the risk of incidents begins to rise. Being able to improve and develop operator competency and skill through IPAF’s PAL+ training modules via a VR simulator is simply the future of efficient, safe and proficient operator training.”
On Monday, IPAF announced that it is conducting “controlled trials” with some of its training members in Europe and the U.S. to deliver PAL+ training that will test candidates using Serious Labs’ VR MEWP simulators instead of real machines. IPAF’s PAL+ operator training was developed in response to increasing demand from contractors for a recognized qualification demonstrating advanced operator proficiency and signifying a certain level of experience in using different types of MEWPs in a variety of challenging environments and scenarios.
According to Giles Councell, IPAF director of operations, the powered access industry is on the cusp of a VR revolution, with MEWP simulators now so advanced that IPAF is confident that they can now form an integral part of delivering candidate training and assessment. If the trials are successful, IPAF says it will look to fully develop the IPAF PAL+ course into eLearning and VR by developing a digital version of the theory module and simulated pre-use inspection to be launched later in the year.
“The new PAL+ VR modules are the next step in training innovation,” Colvin said. “This is the first step on the pathway to ‘training in a box’ – a one-stop shop to certify operators. Not only is simulator training engaging, cost-effective, and safe, it provides trainees with better capabilities, while decreasing the potential for accidents and fatalities — something which is better for everyone.” The controlled trials are expected to run from July to October, with a launch scheduled to occur in the fourth quarter of 2019.