New remote control simulators were recently put to use for the first time.
The simulators are designed to give employees hands-on experience as remote control operators (RCO) in a no-risk, classroom setting. Seven new hire switchmen were the first to use the equipment, which is located in the General Office Building just below the BRC Police offices.
PS Technology (PST), the company that produced the software for the simulators, provides crew management, qualification management and timekeeping solutions for railroads across the country. The software acquired by the Belt was customized to train RCO and works with operator control units (OCUs), as used in the field.
“The software vendor knows what our operations are like and had a good idea what we wanted,” Senior Director of Safety and Compliance Jason Charbonneau said.
He, Assistant Director of Safety and Compliance Mark Labbe and Trainer Jim Scarsellato will train employees using the simulators; PST gave them an on-site introduction to using the equipment.
Presently, the simulators are being used exclusively with new hires, but Charbonneau noted that the Belt is working with the FRA to begin using them to recertify veteran RCOs. The agency must grant approval for that.
The software is further customizable and can be used in the future to simulate hump operations and train employees for specific scenarios, such as pullbacks and operating within the clearing yard terminal.
Charbonneau is excited about potentially expanded use because the simulators allow trainers to grade employees based on preset parameters, which helps them to identify enhancement opportunities in operator performance.