Virtual Reality Can Help in Industrial Training by Simulating a Real-Life Experience
With the advent of virtual reality technology, industrial training simulators are entering a new era as companies are starting to use VR to save time and money while also mitigate risk.
Virtual Reality and Its Role in Industrial Training
The common opinions often shared by virtual reality enthusiasts about the technology’s ability to put a person in any experience imaginable are becoming part of daily reality. This could be just about anything someone could have conceived, ranging from a music festival, to an alien planet that doesn’t exist, to something practical yet maybe unexpected—like the driver’s seat of an airplane de-icing rig.
Scroll down for the video
This is exactly what the industrial simulator maker ForgeFX is doing. The company has been known for the idea of using video game technology to create industrial training simulators.
Virtual reality has been evolving in the past recent years, bypassing many old problems like insufficient computing power, prohibitive costs, and even the sheer weight of the hardware. And now, ForgeFX is making a statement that VR would be the next evolution of their simulators, according to its President and co-founder, Greg Meyers.
“It was doing its best to put you in the environment, but it just always fell short,” Meyers said of the plan.
In a plane simulator scenario, the weather is nasty, as it would be—gray, snowy, windy. So instead of waiting for those weather circumstances to occur in real life, when efforts and resources would need to be devoted to actual planes, trainees can conjure a storm and practice the job without delaying anyone’s flight, wasting the valuable de-icing fluid or even just pretending that it’s a blustery day.
According to Meyers, it’s not just a matter of learning to use controls and building muscle memory, but rather a matter of learning spatial awareness. In the de-icing scenario, the user not only has to de-ice the wing in a certain amount of time, but keep safe on the tarmac while other vehicles are nearby.
“With a traditional 2D screen format, you just can’t replicate that experience,” said Meyers.
According to Jeff Walsh, the executive vice president of worldwide sales, service, and marketing for Global Ground Support, “Hitting a single airplane can cause hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, but additionally, the length of time the aircraft is out of service costs the airline an additional loss of revenue of not being able to use that tool to fly people around.”
It could be remembered that early in the training process, trainees are not allowed to use real planes because of the likelihood of accidentally hitting another. This suggests that the first time an employee might de-ice an airplane, it would be a live aircraft with people on board.
The simulator, however, goes a long way toward making that process safer, more efficient, and faster.
Also, when using a mining shovel, you can’t hold a giant dipper of iron ore over an operator’s head. If it gives way, it will result in a loss of life and a multi-million dollar lawsuit.
“We’re able to figure out what are the most catastrophic events that could happen if the machine is operated poorly, and let’s produce a simulator that targets the training to specifically avoid those accidents,” Meyers said.