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Preparing operators for worksite with simulation technology

CM Labs presents insights into how innovations in simulation can improve crane operator training at Virtual Tradeshow

April 21, 2021  By Jay Koblun

CM Labs operator training simulatorWhen it comes to heavy lifting and operating cranes, CM Labs said that today’s equipment is getting more sophisticated so the need for training continues. Photo: CM Labs Virtual Construction Tradeshow

CM Labs’ Director of Product Management and Strategic Partnerships Drew Carruthers shared how innovations in simulation can improve crane operator training during CM Labs’ Virtual Construction Tradeshow on April 20.

“If you want to find out how someone works, put them in a simulator,” said Carruthers. “You can assess someone quickly.”

CM Labs is based in Montreal, Que., and builds simulation-based solutions to help clients design advanced equipment and prepare for skilled operations. CM Labs is a vendor for simulation-based training in the construction industry with more than 1,000 simulators in 30 countries using its technology.

Simulation has shown to decrease training time by up to half, according to CM Labs. And students trained on simulators demonstrate a higher level of readiness when transitioning to real equipment.


“Some estimate that two weeks on a simulator is equivalent to two months in the field,” said Carruthers.

Safety Driving Innovation

The presentation showed there has been a downward trend in fatal injuries involving cranes. A study from 2017 showed there were 33 crane-related fatalities that year, the lowest number since fatal work injuries started being tracked in 1992.

“While fatal work injuries are trending down, crane safety is still a concern,” said Carruthers. Sixty per cent of construction workplace injuries occur within an employee’s first year of employment, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Carruthers said simulation can help prevent that number from rising and begin to help it decrease.

CM Labs Virtual Event

Photo: CM Labs Virtual Construction Trade Show

When it comes to heavy lifting and operating cranes, Carruthers said that today’s equipment is getting more sophisticated so the need for training continues. There are several factors affecting safety, including; new controls; on-board computers; machine control systems; sensors; anti-sway systems; automation; and remote operation.

“There are usually two types of people who use our simulators for the first time, the overconfident cowboy who needs to focus more on precision, and those who are very light and polite on the controls who need more time to get comfortable. There’s positive and negatives to both types of users,” said Carruthers.

Practising on a simulator helps you be better prepared for a lift in real life, said Carruthers. “If we can get someone to do a difficult life with someone, and see them fail, and give them space to get those jitters out, then they will be that much more prepared for the real lift.”

Post-pandemic recovery plan in progress

CM Labs shared some of the government’s plans for an industry post-pandemic recovery plan. Carruthers said since there is a lot of work coming up in the industry there is a big use for simulation as it can help companies train operators faster and have them on a jobsite sooner.

CM Labs Virtual Construction Trade Show

Photo: CM Labs Virtual Construction Trade Show

“There is an economic stimulus with a focus on infrastructure and creating jobs,” he said. “A $621-billion investment into transportation infrastructure, including; roads, public transit, ports, airports; and the development of infrastructure for electric vehicles across the nation.

“A more than $300-billion investment is expected to be spent on building and retrofitting affordable housing and schools.”

What to look for in a simulator

Carruthers said what you are looking for in a simulator depends entirely on what you need.

“What you’re looking for depends on your organization. We want you to have what works for you. We can talk and get to know each other and answer questions about what your needs are. What technology fits your current type of work? Can we identify what you need to get out of simulation? Identify the need, then identify the technology.”

For more information on the CM Labs’ simulators and technology, head

CM Labs’ mission is to simulate the world to make operations safe and efficient, by connecting people, processes, and equipment design. Whether it’s for training or product design, CM Labs is continually developing simple and effective tools for interactive simulation and visualization.



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