WINNIPEG, Man. — In one bold move yesterday Bison Transport set a new benchmark for driver relations and training.
And that benchmark has been set high as the fast-growing carrier unveiled its Tatonka driver development centre, which houses Mark II, the only full size, full motion truck simulator in Canada.
“We have almost 800 drivers and nothing is more important than their safety as well as the safety of the public that we share our roads with. We are putting our money where our mouth is on that account,” Bison President Don Streuber told the more than 400 people in attendance for Tatonka’s unveiling and the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Bison’s new Winnipeg headquarters.
The Tatonka driver centre also includes a classroom area, computer labs and a smaller stationary driving simulator. Bison will be combining classroom instruction and computer-driven skills development on safe driving techniques and legal requirements with stationary simulation that provides drivers with a realistic experience in equipment performance and driving techniques. The last, and most expensive, piece of the puzzle is the Mark II full-motion simulator that Bison will use to provide its drivers for real life defensive driving techniques.
The full-motion simulator uses an authentic truck cab mounted on a motion base to give the driver a realistic training experience in areas such as shift points, pedal pressure, maneuvering and accident avoidance. Fifty training simulations include a variety of geographic areas from prairie flatlands and coastal mountains to congested city streets and loading docks as well as diverse weather and time of day conditions. Each simulation reacts to the decisions made by the driver and so is constantly changing. With this investment, which totaled more $1M, Bison is the first company in Canada to bring the simulation technology that has been used to great advantage by the aviation industry and the military to the trucking industry.
“We are now able to provide our drivers with a lifetime’s worth of real driving conditions in a matter of several hours,” said Rob Penner, Vice President, Operations. “The best part about that is that we can accomplish that in a safe and controlled environment. We have developed this approach to ensure that every one of our drivers can possess all of the required skills and confidence to operate in our changing environment.”
The Tatonka driver development centre certainly is the cornerstone of Bison’s new 50,000 square foot facility in Winnipeg, which houses its centralized operations base and corporate head office. But the ribbon cutting for the opening of the facility yesterday likely also gave industry people the event virtually turned into a who’s who of industry suppliers and representatives – a glimpse into the future of driver relations and management.
The many drivers and owner/operators in attendance saw a head office clearly designed with them in mind. Aside from the training centre, the new facility includes a full fitness centre with modern exercise equipment and showers, a lounge and entertainment area.
Perhaps just as impressive as the monetary investment in state-of-the-art training equipment and a full exercise facility, is Bison’s adoption of a building design that focuses on making the driver feel a part of the team. This is anything but the traditional trucking head office. Drivers, dispatchers and accounting staff share common areas. The wide, airy hallways are designed to encourage travel among departments. The executives have their offices on the same floor as the rest of the staff and operate in full view of their staff. Everyone eats at a common lunchroom.
Designed by award-winning architectural firm Smith Carter, the centralized operating base includes a further 10,000 square feet for further expansion should Bison need it in the 25 years it hopes to occupy the building.
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