Vale & NORCAT VR training partnership. Extraordinary ways to the do the ordinary – by Len Gillis (Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal – March 2020)

With all the excitement over virtual reality (VR)and how it can change the workplace with high tech opportunities, mining company Vale has partnered with innovation leader NORCAT in Sudbury to carry out a very necessary part of business.

Jason Bubba, NORCAT’s director of training, said Vale is launching a new program that takes advantage of NORCAT’s extraordinary training centre to do something quite ordinary – training new hires.

“What we’re building right now are virtual reality pre-operational check programs for three pieces of underground equipment — for a forklift, for a scissor deck and for a utility vehicle,” said Bubba. “So these pieces are for entry-level workers so they can be trained on the equipment that they’re first going to use when they go to work for Vale.”

He explained that it is not always easy or opportune to pull mobile equipment from production to do training. More often than not, the equipment would be returned to production work before enough training could be done.

“What we have right now is a little bit of a perfect storm. We have new technology being installed at mines. We have an aging workforce. And we have a lot of new entries into the mining space. It is a changing workforce absolutely and a lot of new hires coming in,” said Bubba.

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