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New VR ballast regulating simulator allows for more flexible and mobile training ​

Simulators make it possible to learn and practise machine operation under realistic conditions. With the VR ballast regulating simulator, the second generation of this training technology comes into play. It works almost like a computer game. A VR headset, a controller, and the simulation software: that is all you need to practise working and driving with Plasser & Theurer ballast regulating machines. ​

Plasser & Theurer tamping simulators revolutionised the training of tamping machine operating staff. For several years, it has been possible to practise all working processes without risking damage to machines or infrastructure. Needless to say, many operating companies are making use of this option. It helps improve the qualification of machine crews and decisively increases efficiency and working quality on the worksite.

We now also offer this training technology for operating staff of ballast regulating machines. However, the trainees no longer sit at a simulated workplace during training. They simply put on a pair of VR glasses and use a controller to input commands. A space of 3 m² per person is sufficient. The simplified technical equipment makes this new generation of simulators more affordable, mobile, and significantly more flexible.

Training for all types of ballast regulating machines made by Plasser & Theurer

The development of the VR ballast regulating simulator was inspired by the USP 2000 C2. This machine features all the available technologies for modern ballast distribution and ballast profiling. These work technologies, along with machine commissioning and transfer travel, can be practised with the VR ballast regulating simulator. Trainees can also take a "tour" of the machine to see it from the outside. During training, the trainees input commands using the controller and watch them being performed through the VR glasses. The trainer monitors the trainees via a desktop and can intervene to provide support.

At the moment, there are around 150 ballast regulating machines in operation. Their design and functions are similar to those of the USP 2000. The VR ballast regulating simulator is not only suitable for these machines. It is just as useful to train staff to operate machines with fewer functions. As a result, the simulator lends itself to almost all of our current ballast distributing and profiling machines.

Autumn of 2020: the first training session

We started developing the new simulation technology in December 2019. During the process, we cooperated with ENOVA as we did when implementing our tamping simulators. In early 2020, we delivered the first of now five VR ballast regulating simulators. The pandemic and the resulting uncertainty has made it difficult to launch this new product to the market. Nevertheless, it was possible to use the VR ballast regulating simulator to train a machine crew in the Linz Service Centre in autumn of 2020. Our Czech customer’s staff was delighted to work with this new tool. Thanks to this new training technology, we have managed to increase training efficiency significantly.