ThoroughTec to deliver second simulator

By Leon Engelbrecht, ITWeb senior writer
Johannesburg, 08 Aug 2007

ThoroughTec, the Durban-based company that developed flight simulators for the SA Air Force's Hawk fighter programme, is rolling out what it says is the world's first articulated dump-truck (ADT) simulator.

Developed and built under a multimillion-rand contract for the Services SETA and the Contractors Plant Hire Association (CPHA), the ADT simulator will allow the launch of a nationwide programme to better train drivers and operators for heavy construction, earthmoving and mining vehicles and equipment.

The first ADT unit was unveiled at the Learnia Training Academy, in Benoni, late last month. Additional simulators will be installed at dedicated training centres in each province. A second training facility, at Ascent Management, in Richard's Bay, is on schedule to be commissioned in mid-September.

"These simulators have been designed to enable training at an internationally accepted standard," says ThoroughTec MD Robert Letschert. "They will support the CPHA and Services SETA in setting professional operating and safety standards for operators of heavy plant hire vehicles and equipment."

The contract provides for the design, development, manufacture and support of a set of simulators and inter-changeable cabs representing a variety of vehicles and equipment.

The simulator uses five Pentium 3GHz rack-mount PCs, Letschert adds. One PC is used to model the vehicle dynamics: drive train, collisions, physics, etc, and to communicate with proprietary IO Boards that, in turn, communicate with the hardware devices like switches, lamps, gauges, levers and pedals. "This PC sends vehicle state information over a 10/100 LAN to the other four PCs," he says.

Culture of safety

"Three of these PCs are dedicated 'image generators', each of whom is solely responsible for updating a single 3D graphics rear-projected display. The three rear-projected displays are positioned adjacent to one another in a portrait alignment and run at a resolution of 1024x768, creating a large virtual screen of 2304x1024 that has a physical viewing angle of 180 degrees.

The fifth PC is connected to a 17-inch monitor, keyboard, mouse and joystick. It is used by the instructor to control and monitor the exercise.

Development tools include Microsoft Word, Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003, Perforce version control software and an in-house developed Web-based bug-tracking system.

Letschert adds that the simulators "will come into their own firstly in instruction and skills honing, but also in contributing to a culture of safety and efficiency in the civil construction industry."

These will be crucial for the successful and on-time completion of massive construction programmes getting underway across the country in preparation for the 2010 World Cup and in supporting government's major infrastructure development initiative, which forms the cornerstone of the Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative for SA, he adds.

Related stories:
SA benefits from British Hawk order
SAAF boosts digital training capability