South African rental association launches computer simulation operator training

By Murray Pollok07 January 2009

Durban-based ThoroughTec has developed operator training simulators for the South African Contractor

Durban-based ThoroughTec has developed operator training simulators for the South African Contractors Plant Hire Association (CPHA).

South Africa's Contractors Plant Hire Association (CPHA) has embarked on a major operator training programme using computer simulators to try to make up for the shortfall in operators caused in part by the high number of Aids/HIV-related deaths in the country.

Clive Wicks, chief executive officer of the CPHA, which represents 575 rental companies in the country, told IRN that the Aids/HIV problem in Southern Africa meant that "we lose more operators each year than we gain". The high levels of construction activity in the country mean that there is a demand for rental services and machine operators.

The organisation now has three accredited training providers using the simulators in Gauteng, Richards Bay and Port Elizabeth and others will open in East London and Cape Town later this year. The simulation programmes, developed by Durban-based ThoroughTec Modelling & Simulation, cover backhoe loaders and articulated dump trucks, with simulators for excavators, mobile cranes and graders the next products to be launched. The simulators themselves are housed in standard 6 m containers.

"We started in June 2008 and have trained 120 people so far. We hope to train 500 this year", said Mr Wicks. The initial trainees have been mainly currently employed operators, but the focus will shift this year to new entrants.

Mr Wicks said South Africa's construction market was extremely busy, with a lot of work associated with the 2010 World Cup as well as a massive house building programme. He said the economic slowdown elsewhere in the world had yet to make a major impact on the vibrant rental sector in South Africa, although the historically low value of the Rand was making it increasingly difficult for rental companies to buy new equipment.

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