- L-3 DPA is well-known as a defense contractor, but how does that reputation relate to commercial driver training?
Military operations are by nature inherently risky. Our efforts for over 25 years have focused on providing the Solider, Sailor, Airman and Marine with training that makes them 100% ready to do their job regardless of the situation they find themselves in. The transportation industry can also be high risk especially when things go wrong or bad decisions are made. We believe that our successful history supporting the military means that there are many areas in the transportation industry that would similarly benefit both individual companies as well as the individual driver. One common denominator between them is both must operate vehicles safely and efficiently; often in extremely challenging environments. Whether the environment is, operating their vehicle among other less skilled drivers, driving in high traffic flow, road conditions, weather, tire blow outs, etc., we've made it our business to understand and deliver training that improves the skills and abilities of these drivers who must manage these environments every moment their vehicle is in motion.
- Isn’t L-3 DPA primarily a company that manufactures simulator technology?
It is true we are a company that manufactures high-end, customizable driving simulators. But by themselves, our simulators are just aluminum, wires, computers and such. No one can improve their performance by just driving our simulators around in a virtual world. Without a curriculum, courseware, scenarios, and in some cases an instructor that challenges an individual to master the environments and situations we place them in; our training assessments prove you don’t get better or safer at driving a vehicle. That is why we deliver a comprehensive "Total Training Solution." We have a wealth of knowledge in the area of human performance allowing us to integrate simulation and technology tools to provide the best written, spoken, visual, and skills based training to meet the client’s needs.
- What is a Total Training Solution?
Simply put, a Total Training Solution is one that incorporates a full needs analysis, custom designed training elements such as interactive online courseware, instructor led training, simulations, mobile training services and a complete evaluation process. In our construct, we can provide a driver a concept, test them to ensure they understand the situation and then provide the opportunity to practice in a simulator. The efficiency of our approach comes through the ability to provide a challenging situation every two minutes.
- What type of clients and industries does L-3 DPA work with?
In addition to the military, we provide solutions for both short and long haul motor carriers and with clients whose sizes range from small private fleets to large, for hire fleets. We also support bus companies, law enforcement, emergency/fire services as well as specialty training in the mining industry.
- Does a client have to be a certain size to benefit from your program?
Our training solutions are scalable to meet the needs of the client. We have found that all clients need to realize a return on investment, or ROI, for their training dollars. So, we develop a training program that is designed to achieve that ROI in the most cost effective package.
- What are the key features of your simulators and your online courseware.
Our simulators are referred to as "ground" simulators to distinguish from what most people think of with flight simulation. So, the hardware and software features are modeled to provide a very authentic replication of the driving environments that professional driver’s experience. Depending on the client we have different transmissions, interchangeable seats and dashboard features to provide a realistic hands-on experience and out scenarios are customizable to include different climate elements, landscapes, and signage. Our online courses can be delivered via the internet or CD/DVD and are highly interactive and engaging lessons to reinforce important decision based driving concepts with drivers. All of our training, simulation and online efforts are designed using the latest in adult learning techniques so that we optimize the trainees' experience and maximize their retention of the material.
- Do your clients have to buy a simulator?
Absolutely NOT; a client may not have the resources to buy a simulator. However, they can still benefit from using our mobile training units. We can literally send our trainers and a trailer mounted mobile simulator to a client’s site and provide focused, high quality training to the clients' drivers. This has proven to be a great option for our clients; large and small.
- What kinds of problems do your clients come to you with?
There are three primary concerns our clients bring us. They want or need to improve their safety record; they need to lower their operating costs; and finally their need to meet Federal or State mandated training requirements. So when we listen to our customers express their needs, we wrap the Total Training Solution around what they want to improve and provide a means to best achieve those results.
- What is the scale of these problems and do they matter across the industry?
Bottom line, these issues do matter. If the company can conserve resources it helps the entire economy, and if they send out safer drivers then the public benefits. For instance, we have a customer who estimated that if his 2,500 drivers could just save a Tenth of a Percent on MPG, they could save $100,000 in operating costs. After our training efforts, they saved 4.9%....that equates to $4.9 MILLION Dollars. And using simulation to train means we are employing a Green Technology that reduces carbon emissions. But most importantly, for an individual company, and everybody on the road, any accident matters. Our training programs are proven to reduce accidents. In addition, a trained driver is not just a safer working driver but also a safer personal driver.
- How does L-3 DPA go about working with their clients; what does that involve?
Our first goal is to listen. We learn about the issues and the improvements they want to see and also about how they measure results. From there, we work with clients to design the Total Training Solution that meets their needs. Regardless of what we are tasked to do, our customers know we are going to evaluate our success by comparing their driver’s performance before and after training to confirm the effectiveness of the solution.
- Are your online courses mobile? Can drivers take them whenever and wherever they want to?
Yes. Today’s technologies allow drivers to receive a wealth of information right in the cab of their truck. These communications systems allow training content to be delivered anytime, anywhere and the driver can access it, and this part is important, when they are NOT driving. This is an exciting type of training delivery option for our clients and we are proud to be one of the first providers of in-cab training. For those individuals without in cab, on line equipment, there is still the capability to take CD/DVD materials with them on the road.
- What kind of results do your clients experience, and how quickly do they see results?
Common results for safety include: reduced frequency of accidents, reduced severity of accidents, and fewer preventable accidents. For operating costs: improved fuel efficiency leads to several other savings; lower maintenance bills from reducing high RPM operations, hard braking, etc. Safety improvements are typically seen within 30-60 days and fuel gains within 30 days. These results are impressive enough. However, our clients find that to sustain these improvements over time there has to be a continuous leadership focus and ongoing training effort that refreshes, stimulates and engages the driver.
- What makes L-3 DPA’s approach successful? What makes simulation training effective, for example?
We are leaders in developing state-of-the art Total Training Solutions. And we believe our greatest strength is listening to clients and formulating a Total Training Solution unique to them. Our tools, like simulation, and our techniques, like blending courseware with practical practice exercises are great, but our process of working with clients is exceptional.
- What innovations is L-3 DPA currently working on to further help your clients?
Our best ideas come from our clients. With that in mind, we are developing new immersive simulations with wrap around type screens to enhance the realism. We are creating new simulation scenarios and courseware for our specialty clients like mining and also law enforcement that are focused on industry-specific safety problems. Lastly, we now have the capability to objectively assess drivers' decision making skills on the simulator and then use that data to create a targeted training program for that individual driver. These are just some of the developments underway that are very exciting to our clients.