Editors Enjoy New JLG Training Center

I relish the chance to run equipment, so when I was one of more than 30 editors that JLG invited to experience a day at its newly expanded and improved customer training center in McConnellsburg, Pa., I accepted eagerly.
 
JLG’s invitation promised a tour of its training center; the chance to run a scissor lift, a boom lift, and a telehandler on the center’s proving ground; and a chance to ride up 185 ft. in the JLG 1850SJ, the world’s tallest self-propelled boom lift. Who wouldn’t want to go?
 
The expanded training center and its capabilities were every bit as good as promised, underscoring the company’s commitment to top-quality training.
 
JLG has invested $2.5 million to quadruple the training center’s size, add state-of-the art, big-screen audiovisual equipment, install a desktop simulator with a huge wall-mounted screen, and build a 4-acre proving ground that simulates jobsite conditions. The center’s 17,000-sq.-ft. indoor space includes three classrooms, meeting space, a dining area, and four inside training bays with 30-ft. ceilings. The newest classroom holds 24 students and is equipped with a large projection screen and dual HD monitors. Its double doorway and 20-ft. ceiling let smaller lifts be brought right into the classroom for hands-on training. When the movable wall between the classroom and meeting space is opened, the classroom can hold 80 people.
 
Training doubles
JLG currently trains about 4,000 people a year, some at the center and others at customer sites. (If you include people trained by graduates of JLG’s train-the-trainer program, the number is undoubtedly much larger.) Rick Smith, senior director of product training, says the number of people trained grows about 50% each year. (See Smith’s article about good training on page 26 of the Nov.-Dec. edition of Lift and Access). He adds that whether a class is for equipment operators, service technicians, or JLG’s train-the-trainer program, the training center makes learning easier by giving students more multimedia resources, more equipment, more space, and more comfort.
 
The outdoor proving ground offers a variety of jobsite-like conditions where operators build skills by operating on mixed and uneven terrain. They are tasked with driving up and down hill, picking and placing telehandler loads on structures, driving over concrete elevations that make the machine tilt side-to-side, reaching work areas at height that simulate real-world boom lift and scissor lift applications, and maneuvering around simulated power lines. 
 
Nearly all of the editors who visited JLG’s training center eagerly grabbed the opportunity to operate equipment on the proving ground under the patient guidance of the on-site experts.
 
I had operated a boom lift and a scissor lift before, but this was my first time running a telehandler, and it was fun. The topper was the ride up to 185 ft. on the 1850SJ with a seasoned veteran at the controls. The lift was really stable, and its action was so smooth that we sometimes found it hard to tell we were moving.
 
If the center worked so well for giving a taste of training to editors, who are more familiar with keyboards than joysticks, imagine how effective it is for teaching someone who operates frequently and whose livelihood depends on safe operation.
 
“The idea is for people to learn in the classroom, then go outside and apply what they’ve learned to real operation in a realistic but controlled environment,” says Smith.
 
More information about the training center and JLG’s training programs is available on its website, www.jlg.com.
About the Author: 

Mike Larson

Mike Larson has been writing about heavy equipment and construction for more than 25 years. He joined Heartland Communications Group in 2011 as editor of Lift and Access. During his career, he has edited Western Builder and Midwest Construction, and has been a regular contributor to Engineering News-Record and Constructor magazines. Larson also worked in and managed marketing communications for Manitowoc Cranes. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.