According to Don Batterton, owner of Tri Ag Inc., Emeden, IL, many ag retailers have invested heavily into the custom application side of their businesses these past few years as commodity prices have remained high and work from grower-customers has been plentiful. This has meant a growing need to add not only new equipment, but operators as well.
But for many companies, finding new operators is only half the battle. Making sure they are properly trained is also important.
“Everyone knows the cost of insurance is rising for custom applicators, which means everyone is looking for whatever way they can to reduce risk,” says Batterton. “Putting new hires into the machines themselves can be risky.”
Instead, Batterton believes the ag industry having some kind of training simulator for custom application would help solve this issue. “A simulator could easily reduce the risk of machine damage while providing training,” he says. “Also, this could be an ideal way for companies to screen new hires without risk.”
Finding A Partner
To make this dream a reality, Batterton has partnered with CSE Software, Peoria, IL. Established in 1990, CSE has produced training simulators for heavy equipment manufacturers such as Caterpillar.
“With our Caterpillar simulator, we incorporate actual machine controls into the program so the operators experience everything that will be in the heavy machinery itself,” says Stacey Burris, project manager/new business development for CSE. “By pre-training operators before letting them on an actual machine, users can better ensure the safety of all personnel and actual equipment.”
At the moment, says Tri Ag’s Batterton, both companies are looking for investments from interested ag retailers and industry suppliers to help build a prototype custom application simulator. The cost to design and build such a model will run approximately $200,000, he says.
A demonstration using a Caterpillar simulator was shown to select visitors at the recent Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association meeting in Peoria. “Our meetings so far with industry personnel have been encouraging, but we still have some work to do,” says Batterton.
For more information, visit the CSE Website at www.csesoftware.com.