Simulations have been around for quite a while, but creating real-life learning environments — either simulations or real drills — is often a hassle, costly and not easy to repeat and deploy. Especially when you have to train large groups of people. Virtual Reality provides a solution and is already ready to use and available to all. VR enabled situational training for numerous organizations harnessing this technology and seeing incredible results.
Here are 5 practical applications in the heavy industry, with examples of companies that are already taking full advantage of VR.
One of the most basic and crucial training is the onboarding on a production site for (first time) visitors and employees. The site is often a secure area where untrained people cannot enter without proper training on how the site looks like, where to go, where the hazards are, and what to do when something goes wrong.
Voton BV is a Dutch manufacturer of concrete piles, needed to build safely on the soft lands of The Netherlands. They created a guided VR tour to explain to new employees and visitors how the production process works and how the logistics are organized. Across the production site, 360˚ videos were recorded with a professional actor to explain the process. The viewer can look around and decide for themselves where to go where to look. As if they were on site.
2. Confined spaces
The procedures concerning confined spaces are designed to safeguard the quality of the work and the people involved. Traditional classroom training is not able to offer the real-world experiences in a way that VR can. Real life is profoundly different than a powerpoint, an experienced colleague or even a real-life drill. When standing on a plant in front of the installation, the procedure feels very different when you actually see all pipes in real life and, as do the meters, handles and safety measures you have to check.
A large Dutch chemical company is in the process of creating VR training to let trainees train on the actual production site as part of their Industry 4.0 initiatives. While wearing a VR headset, trainees will be asked to perform the procedure in a simulated 360˚ video environment. Trainees will experience the consequences of their actions and learn the procedure by doing; making choices, as they would in real life. Creating this VR training uses the existing procedure as a starting point, situated in the real-life context. Using VR enables the company to train own employees and contractors anytime, on the job and in an effective way.
3. Evacuation training
Real life evacuation drills are mandatory by law. Companies struggle with the organizational hassle these real-life drills bring along; operational impact, costly, non-workable hours and the effectiveness for all involved. The benefits are mostly reaped by the occupational safety officers because they actually have to perform. The regular employees follow each other outside, wait, and go back inside. As a company, you don’t know the effect of this training on the whole population and until now there was not really an alternative.
KLM, the Dutch airline, has created an interactive 360 video VR evacuation training for their aircraft engineers. Engineers put on the VR headset so that they can experience real-world scenarios in a way that traditional real-life drills and classroom training wouldn’t be able to offer. Situated in their own hangar they are part of the stand-up morning routine to discuss the work at hand. Suddenly fire is coming out of the airplane. What to do? Sound the alarm? Ask a colleague to put out the equipment? or Put out the fire yourself?
This VR evacuation is now available at the same desk as to where the engineers get their tools, so when a plane is 20 minutes late they can check out the headset and do the VR course. KLM management can see every choice of every individual so they can assess their level and tailor new training initiatives. Management Team wrote an article on it.
4. Generic training
Enterprises are surrounded by suppliers who provide more generic, often mandatory, training like forklift or CPR training. The trainees’ experience is often described as mandatory and not engaging. Virtual Reality puts the trainees in practice situations, enabling trainees to do it where and when they want and business allows it best. Minimising impact on business and personal life. As a business, you can buy licenses per employee at a fraction of the cost, see the performance reports and put the learning in the hands of the trainee.
The Amsterdam Medical Center developed a VR CPR training where the trainee has to save a victim who just fell on the ground. Research conducted by the AMC shows a 43% increase in remembering the correct procedure steps performing CPR after training in VR. Enterprises can benefit from providers offering VR training on specialized subjects to decrease the impact of these training courses on their business processes.
The VR CPR training received a received a Quality Mark from the Dutch Society for Simulation in Healthcare (DSSH), more information here.
5. Technical training
Technical training, like for example machinery or mechanical parts training require the presence of this hardware. The availability of these assets and the assets on/in which they operate like ships, trains, factories, planes & production sites makes them hard to actually use as training objects.
Learning departments are often asked for solutions to improve company training, and virtual reality is regarded as one of the best solutions. The training department of KLM Engineering & Maintenance put aside the thick PDF manuals and their trainees are now warped right in front of an aircraft where they have to perform specific procedures while allowing them to consult the manual right in the VR experience. Multiple possible paths force the trainee to think before acting and make their own informed decisions and experience the consequences.
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