An Immersive Safety Experience
Based on a combination of client insights and in-house research, we devised a technology- and experience-based solution that would allow Argos to communicate the seriousness of a rollover without placing drivers in real danger.
Argos is a company you might not immediately recognize by name alone, but you’ve almost certainly seen their trademark chartreuse mixer trucks around town. With 134 concrete production plants and 1,350 mixers in the United States alone, Argos is the second largest concrete producer in the U.S. and a leading multi-national corporation. As you might imagine, it takes a lot of manpower—and a lot of trucks— to transport Argos product from their plants to their customers. In fact, in the company’s home country, Colombia, Argos is the largest transporter of land cargo. As a company that puts the health and safety of its people first, Argos sought out an innovative solution to a complicated problem: mixer truck rollovers. It would be easy to assume that rollovers are simply the result of negligence on the part of drivers, but the data tells a more complex story.
Problem & Research
According to a 2017 Rollover Survey conducted by the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA), the average cost per rollover incident was estimated at upwards of $63K, before court and legal fees. The same survey asked drivers a series of questions designed to illuminate some of the variables and circumstances that contributed to rollover incidents. Drivers were interviewed about a range of factors including the following:
Given these findings, the team at Argos came to us with some keen observations about their drivers. While eliminating rollovers entirely remains the ultimate goal and the focus of new driver training, we quickly discovered that some of the company’s best drivers had in fact experienced a rollover early on in their careers– and benefitted greatly from these unfortunate, dangerous and costly lessons. So, we tasked ourselves with figuring out how we might recreate the physical experience and impact of a rollover, without the associated risk.
Based on a combination of client insights and in-house research, we devised a technology- and experience-based solution that would allow Argos to communicate the seriousness of a rollover without placing drivers in real danger. The resulting Argos Mixer Truck Simulation would convey the visual, auditory, and physical experience of a rollover.
The simulation takes place on a rural road leaving an Argos plant; historically, this is the most common setting for real-life Argos rollovers.
Drivers are seated in a rendered truck cab that’s an exact match for the most common Argos truck model—a 2015 Mack. Drivers are able to steer their virtual truck along a scenic, windy road, all the while feeling the vibrating of the truck engine and each bump in the road.
Just as drivers are getting used to the feel of their new truck and starting to enjoy the picturesque setting, they approach a tricky left turn that they’re unable to navigate. The resulting crash is jarring to say the least.
The sounds of breaking glass, metal sliding on pavement and the crushing of the hood are true to life. The actual truck seat tilts to give participants a realistic physical sense of how extreme these crashes are.
In an attempt to self-correct in this curve, drivers inevitably over-correct, causing the center of gravity to shift, pulling the truck over on its side.
While we wanted drivers to enjoy the novelty of this custom VR experience, it was equally important that participants walk away from the simulation equipped with the tools to alter their driving behavior to prevent rollovers. Immediately following the “crash,” the perspective of the experience shifts to one outside of the truck cab with the driver now watching the crash as an onlooker. Meanwhile, the narrator provides a brief explanation of the physics of a rollover. In most cases, the back outermost wheel of the truck slides off the road, and the driver attempts to over-compensate by turning sharply to regain stability. However, this instead creates a critical imbalance within the loaded drum and thereby a rollover.
The impact of this traveling training simulator has been far reaching and profound. With a fully tricked out, branded trailer to house the experience, Argos is able to reach their drivers all over the southeast, and eventually, the country. The simulator has produced over 1500 hours of training and seen 367 participants in just the first two months.
What’s more, a sample of participants were outfitted with a heart rate monitor to gauge their physiological response to the experience. On average, drivers had an average heart rate increase of 38 BPM!
The emotional responses of drivers have been just as staggering. Employee training, especially safety training, rarely leads to additional conversations outside the classroom. But in this case, the chatter and intrigue surrounding this simulation has extended far beyond the confines of the trailer.