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Vol. 12, No. 29 Week of July 22, 2007
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

PETROLEUM DIRECTORY: New computerized simulator enhances Carlile’s training program

Amy Spittler

Petroleum News

Carlile Transportation Systems has purchased and installed a new truck driving simulator at its Anchorage terminal. This state-of-the-art computerized simulator is the first in Alaska and is custom designed to mimic specific Alaska roadway conditions for enhanced driver training and safety. It’s realistic, high resolution and interactive.

The simulator was built by a subsidiary of military contractor L3 Communications. The TransSim VS IV will be used for driver training, particularly among new hires. The cost was $133,000, about the price of a new truck; but the estimated savings to the company will be at least that much. The simulator removes the risk of test driving new applicants on the road and ensures they have the driver qualification skills necessary before putting them through the application process.

The training simulator combines a fully operational truck cab with the latest digital simulation technology to create life-like training scenarios that improve driving behavior and skill. Subjects include defensive driving and decision making, space management, backing, fuel efficient driving techniques and correct engine operation using newer engine performance curves.

The equipment comes loaded with three channels, 180 degree plasma screens, 72 hz state-of-the- art software, force load steering, 140 engines, 240 transmissions, 33 axle ratios, Glass Dash Technology, gauge flexibility, a SimCommander touch screen and modular capability known as Omni Sim.

It can be programmed to mimic varying weather and road conditions such as hills, ice, fog or road hazards such as debris or stalled vehicles. The computer retains driver performance and can be replayed by an instructor for training purposes.

The simulator can also be programmed for different types of trucks and trailer loads so a driver experiences how a specific truck reacts in different situations and with varying loads.

In Alaska, for example, long, double-trailer configurations are common, but only experienced drivers are able to drive such a rig. The simulator allows newer drivers to get experience in a safe environment and log unlimited miles before getting onto the highway.

By the end of June, early July, Carlile will also be adding a skid pad scenario to its testing lineup to administer additional handling tests.

“The new training simulator will enhance Carlile’s safety program by reducing accidents, improving driver skills, increasing fuel economy, saving costs and saving lives,” said company president, Harry McDonald. “It also allows for non-driving employees to get practice behind the wheel so they can train to move into a driving position.”

Carlile recently launched a national campaign for driver recruitment, “Careers at Carlile.” Successful campaign efforts resulted in hundreds of applicants and Carlile needed a safe and efficient method to quickly test driver qualifications.

“The simulator will prove invaluable with new hire training as well as enhance internal advancement opportunities. It is similar to a flight simulator that pilots use so even the experienced drivers are lining up to take a test drive,” said John McCoy, driver education and development manager.

And to further add to the buzz, high profile test-driver Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire visited the Anchorage terminal on Tuesday, June 5 as a wrap-up to her visit to Alaska while on a two-day trade mission to confront concerns that have been raised by Alaska’s fishing and shipping industries. The Associated Press reported she hoped to forge a working relationship with recently elected Gov. Sarah Palin on those issues and others, such as tourism, education, global warming and natural-gas supplies.

Fifty percent of Carlile’s freight comes through Washington, and 97 percent of Alaska’s total goods pass through the state. Carlile’s invitation to the Governor was spurred by the company’s commitment to promote a positive business relationship between the two states. Gregoire was able to spend about an hour at the Anchorage terminal, getting a brief overview of the company, a test drive of the new simulator and a tour of the facility. Despite having nearly a dozen back-seat drivers nearby, Gregoire appeared to perform better than expected for a first-timer. The visit seemed to be an educational, yet light-hearted end to a whirlwind trip.

Founded in 1980 by brothers John and Harry McDonald, Carlile has grown from two tractors to one of Alaska’s largest trucking companies. Carlile employs more than 600, with terminals in Anchorage; Fairbanks; Kenai; Kodiak; Prudhoe Bay/Deadhorse; Seward; Houston, Texas; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Tacoma, Washington and Edmonton, Alberta.

To learn more about Carlile visit: or call (907) 276-7797. For more information on the TransSim VS IV go to

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