By TODD RAMSEIER
Before I found my way to writing this blog, I spent 15 combined years in industrial environments. A large part of my career that I loved centered around forklifts. However, as warehouses became more and more efficient, and my role switched to training a new generation of equipment operators, I found it more difficult to train as the industry evolved with narrower spaces and more efficiently designed machines.
Enter Virtual Reality (literally!). What would take 40 hours of my time as a manager could be reduced to 5 hours. Instead of gathering training materials, teaching safety, and then dropping the trainee into a one-ton machine without any bearings, I could set up a computer with a preset training program. Learning a heavy machine, without the fear of damage to persons or property, would have been a dream come true as a manager of a major distribution center.
From experience, 75% of the incidents involving forklifts that I was aware of, were caused by operators with less than 400 hours on the equipment. Obviously this is a rough number, but speaking with others in the industry, it’s on par with most equipment accidents. In fact, large equipment operators are often tasked with gaining over 500 hours of training before being certified. However I’ve witnessed a lot of smaller companies cut this corner, it’s a lot of time and money to spend.
Up until now, how would you get hours on a piece of dangerous equipment, without having to spend additional labor to oversee the training, management time to keep things on task, and potential loss or injury as you would have to use real machines to do the training? Yep. Virtual Reality.
No longer just gaming.
Virtual Reality has come a long way, and is casually sweeping through the industrial world. From heavy equipment to welding and beyond, it’s no longer just about gaming or massive expensive flight simulators. VR hardware is becoming easily accessible, and having a program built for training is much cheaper than the hundreds labor training hours, and the risk of injury and damage.
It seems almost surreal to strap a VR headset on, but as Manufacturing giant Boeing has discovered, it’s worth the initial setup.
“’Our mechanics are able — in a virtual scene — to see how landing gear will be installed, how it will look and what kind of tools we’ll be using,’ said Sir-Sain Leong, 737 MAX manufacturing senior manager.”
Another example takes us behind the wheel of a UPS truck. They have designed a program to allow drivers to spot hazardous obstacles and get hands-on training, before taking one of their iconic brown trucks on the road.
“Virtual Reality offers a technological leap in the realm of driver safety training,” said Juan Perez, UPS chief information and engineering officer. “VR creates a realistic streetscape that will impress even the youngest of our drivers, whose previous exposure to the technology may have been through video games.”
Walmart, Raymond Forklifts, and more join the ranks of UPS and Boeing as leaders of using Virtual Reality as well. These large companies are truly grabbing the technology to use it to their full advantage. But what about the smaller companies? It might seem daunting to have a fully designed VR system, but it’s much more accessible than you think.
We here at Chewed Pixel Studios have already worked with companies to design VR training for industrial use, including construction and beyond. With our experience and personal touch, we’re able to design branded training specifically for your needs. This means no-bloat features you won’t use, that cost you more than you want. And with the ability to tailor to different hardware, you’re free to choose the hardware and system that works best for your company. Contact us today for more information on how we can help you build your training resources.
Safety, reduced incident rates, and even wow factor. Virtual Reality can help take your business to another level by starting your associates off on the right foot from the very beginning. By instilling your corporate values, safety, and proper training from the very start, there’s no doubt your operations managers will thank you for giving them the tools they need to succeed in this changing world.