United Rentals to offer virtual-reality training for aerial lifts

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Updated Dec 10, 2018
Testing out Serious Labs’ new virtual-reality simulator for operators of mobile elevated work platforms at the opening of United Rentals’ newest training center.Testing out Serious Labs’ new virtual-reality simulator for operators of mobile elevated work platforms at the opening of United Rentals’ newest training center.

Virtual-reality equipment training on aerial lifts is coming to United Rentals training centers through an expanded partnership with Serious Labs, a developer of VR training for heavy-equipment operators.

United Rentals opened its first United Academy training center with VR simulation November 28 in Alberta, Canada, with plans to expand the program to its other training centers, including in the United States.

The latest offering from Serious Labs will focus on VR simulation for training operators of mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs), formerly called aerial work platforms. The simulation will be part of United Academy’s operator certification courses, which also offer online and in-person training options.

The centers will also provide VR simulation of crane operation from Industrial Training International, a computer lab, eLearning content that meets OSHA requirements, a digital training library, and hands-on training from United Rentals experts, the company says.

The timing of the new MEWP training coincides with an announcement from the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) that new ANSI standards for MEWPs will be published in the United States on December 10. The standards, which changed the name from aerial work platforms (AWPs) to MEWPs, will affect all MEWP manufacturers, dealers, owners and operators. The standards would take effect one year after publish date.

The standards will require operators to be certified on aerial lifts before they can operate them.

Serious Labs touts its VR simulators as allowing real-world-type training without the risk. Students don virtual-reality goggles, which gives them an operator’s view of a simulated jobsite. They operate the virtual MEWP with controls similar to what they would find in a real aerial lift.

“Simulators can improve motor skills, critical thinking and an understanding of training objectives,” Serious Labs says. “Real-time data tracks the trainee’s performance and flags gaps that require improvement.”

The Alberta center is the first of its kind in the world, according to Serious Labs. The company says it will open more training centers in the next few months and continue the rollout from there.

Serious Labs’ MEWP simulator allows training without the risk.Serious Labs’ MEWP simulator allows training without the risk.