Effectiveness of simulator training compared to machine training for equipment operators in the logging industry

Erin Burk, Han Sup Han, Mathew Smidt, Bruce Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Logging equipment operators traditionally learn the skills required for their job through hands-on training using a real machine in the forest. New developments in simulator technology enable operators to learn and practice operating logging equipment in a virtual setting. This study presents a summary of controlled experiments to evaluate the effectiveness of simulator training compared to machine training for logging equipment operators in terms of performance and cost effectiveness. Sixteen participants were trained on simulated or real logging machinery for 26 hours each. We compared the performance of simulator-trained participants to machine-trained participants by testing operators on real equipment in the forest. No significant differences were found in overall performance between simulator-trained and machine-trained operators; however, machine-trained students showed greater improvement than simulator-trained students on more complex equipment. A cost analysis of simulator vs. machine training found that contractors should expect to save 36–40% by sending their students to an external training facility using simulator-based training rather than conducting internal, machine-based training. Contractors considering the purchase of a simulator for in-house training would need to use their simulator for around 130 hours each year to break-even on the yearly average costs of owning and operating the simulator.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-384
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Forest Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023


  • Simulator
  • forestry simulator
  • logging equipment operator
  • simulator-based training
  • workforce training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Effectiveness of simulator training compared to machine training for equipment operators in the logging industry'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this