Read our expert's newest virtual training insightsThe next generation of training for manufacturers is 3D virtual training, which enables companies to train and upskill their workforce while keeping production on schedule. Through this series of articles, we offer insights into effectively making the shift from traditional training to a virtual platform.
Training staff is an essential step in manufacturing quality products. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the most time-consuming and logistically demanding steps in the process. Training hundreds of workers in an efficient manner to keep production on schedule can pose serious difficulties.
Virtual training is an innovative new solution for these challenges. It opens up a range of exciting possibilities for breaking down the bottlenecks and barriers of traditional training while offering a more engaging and comprehensive training experience. For manufacturers, virtual training allows companies to rapidly expedite training schedules and upskill workers like never before.
Eliminate training bottlenecks
Traditionally, successful training relies on a number of specific conditions which can easily create bottlenecks in your process. Scheduling, assembling students and trainers alike in a suitable classroom environment, travel costs, and language barriers all complicate the process. Even native speakers may simply struggle with reading, writing or listening for extended periods of time, which adds another challenge to information retention.
With virtual training, you can eliminate or dramatically reduce all of these bottlenecks. Virtual training can be completed on a student’s own schedule anywhere they have access to a PC, tablet, or mobile device.
The components that a student will be installing, maintaining or assembling are visually represented on the device, and can be freely manipulated just like in the real world. Furthermore, training can be easily translated into a student’s native language, making it easier than ever to cross language barriers.
The interactive and visual nature of virtual training also means that students don’t have to rely as heavily on verbal or written communication to retain the information. Last but not least, the whole process is gamified, which leads to greater engagement and stronger retention of the concepts, processes and lessons learned.
Fast track new production lines and tackle the talent shortage
In today’s manufacturing environment, companies are under increasing pressure to bring products to market faster and rapidly implement new technologies. Training can be one of the biggest hurdles to overcome here. With virtual training, it’s possible to dramatically shorten the amount of time required to train new workers, refresh workers on a certain skill set, or educate workers on a new process.
In fact, virtual training even allows manufacturers to train workers on using new machines and working on new products while they are still being prototyped. With the interactive, comprehensive education offered by virtual training, you can even eliminate some restrictive qualifications that limit your talent pool. By extension, virtual training allows manufacturers to address the talent shortage, which has proven to be one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced over the last several years.
Gather valuable information for engineering
One of the most exciting benefits of virtual training is that it offers manufacturers an early method of gathering data on takt times. As students participate in virtual training, companies can track how long it takes them to complete various steps in product assemblies, maintenance procedures, and other tasks. You can then feed this data back to engineering to design more efficient processes or simplify components.
In short, while you’re rapidly and efficiently training staff, you’re also getting an early start on optimizing your production and maintenance processes. As agility grows more important by the day, this can be a tremendous advantage in the marketplace.
Manufacturing great products starts with great training
Whether you’re manufacturing cutting-edge new products or simply elevating the quality of a classic, it all starts with how you train your staff. People aren’t just your greatest asset, they’re also your greatest investment. That’s what virtual training is all about - helping you invest in your people to unlock their full potential and create world-class products.
One of the biggest challenges in manufacturing today is access to qualified talent. Demographic shifts are having a significant impact as talented, experienced professionals age out of the industry. Meanwhile, many companies lack qualified professionals for key manufacturing technologies like digitalization or core products such as EV batteries.
To bridge this talent gap, effective training is a must. In order to meet the demands of evolving market trends, manufacturers must be willing to think outside the box and leverage new solutions to train new workers and upskill existing staff.
Siemens’ Virtual Training Solutions are an exciting answer to these challenges. Given my experience in this platform, I’d like to share a few key benefits of virtual training and further explain how it works in practice.
Creating virtual training is not as hard as you think!
Creating effective virtual training courses can be expensive and time-consuming. In many cases, companies rely on specialized professionals to develop these virtual training courses, which only adds to the expense.
A key advantage of Siemens’ virtual training platform is that it was built from the ground-up for easy, intuitive creation of course materials. In fact, our Virtual Training Solutions utilize a program we call “the creator” that allows for rapid development of new courses. With the creator, you can quickly edit training materials as new machines and products are introduced. Smart drag-and-drop functionality, the ability to reuse sequences, and other embedded features dramatically reduce the amount of time needed to create or modify these materials.
While creating a course, you can import a 3D CAD model directly into the tool, as well as draw from existing toolboxes and libraries of components. For each 3D rendered component, you can select the material type from a menu, which will automatically apply the relevant characteristics to the piece. The result is a comprehensive platform for efficiently creating the virtual training materials your team needs, when you need them.
Best of all, your training course materials can be readily adapted to different platforms - from PC to mobile to VR and AR. Your course materials are future proofed so that whatever training technology your company decides to adopt next, your content will still be compatible.
Virtual training is much more engaging
A persistent challenge in training is keeping students engaged and ensuring information is retained. Whether information is delivered via lectures, demonstrations, or other means, companies still struggle with large portions of the team not fully retaining key lessons.
The first step we take in addressing this problem is creating fully interactive virtual training. Components and tools are rendered in 3D and can be manipulated just as if the student were holding them in real-life. By completing repair, assembly and maintenance tasks in a virtual environment, students are more engaged in the process and better retain information.
Furthermore, Siemens leverages gamification to create an experience that engages students even further. Initially, students are asked to complete a task with full instructions, as well as visual hints and clues to guide them through the process. As they complete each “level,” less information is given to the student until they must complete the task entirely on their own.
This gamified process helps students gain a greater sense of achievement and motivates them to improve their understanding and knowledge of the process.
Leverage the power of data in your training program
Another key advantage of virtual training is the ability to gather useful data through the learning management system. As each trainee completes courses, data on each step in the process is automatically gathered for further analysis. Companies can monitor training progress by project or location, as well as track training targets.
This data offers not only a comprehensive look at training progress and trainee performance, but also deeper insights into your installation, repair and maintenance procedures. If trainees are taking a longer time than expected to perform a specific task, this may be an indicator that the task is either too complicated or simply requires more time. Alternatively, if many trainees are making the same mistakes at a particular step, you can take steps to mitigate the issue.
The most exciting part is that all of this may be completed before you even have a prototype of the parts and components trainees will be working on.
Training for tomorrow starts today
Whether your organization aims to improve product quality, shorten time-to-market, reduce operating expenses, or all of the above, few things are as important as training. Training is more than preparing someone to complete a task, it’s a process which can directly contribute to all of the above objectives.
That’s what makes virtual training so exciting - it’s not only more time-efficient, but also better engages professionals with lessons that are retained. By providing an exceptional training experience, you’re putting new hires on a path to add more value to the company across their entire tenure. Regardless of the goals you have for your organization over the next few years, achieving that success starts today with superior training.
The metaverse is one of the hottest topics in tech right now. Virtual and augmented reality technologies offer the potential to transform the way we engage with the Internet - and, by extension, a vast portion of everyday life.
Manufacturers are just starting to take notice of these technologies and the potential applications within our industry. By leveraging digital twins, manufacturers will have the ability to enter a real-time simulation of their facilities to diagnose problems, test and validate new solutions, and observe the operation of different machines.
In this article, I’ll be taking a look at one very exciting application of the industrial metaverse: virtual training. Virtual training within the metaverse allows manufacturers to not only overcome many of the physical and time-based limitations of traditional training, but also offer a radically more engaging process. Powered by Siemens Xcelerator, metaverse training will be performed within an open software platform that seamlessly integrates with other powerful new technologies like AI, digital twin simulations, and more.
Leveraging a lifelike training environment for immersive education
Training within the metaverse promises an extraordinarily immersive experience. In the traditional classroom environment, students are limited to studying a specific machine or component, which is of course only a small piece of a larger facility.
In contrast, virtual training in the metaverse can occur entirely within a lifelike, dynamic digital twin of your facility. Students have the opportunity to not only study the machine or component they will be tasked with assembling or fixing, but also appreciate how it fits into the larger environment of the plant. They can observe all of the parts, machines and facilities they are working with. As an example, a trainee can watch the movements of nearby robotics, thereby gaining a deeper understanding of why certain safety protocols are so important for avoiding collisions.
In brief, the metaverse will allow companies to take training to a new level. Instead of passively absorbing information, students will actively participate and engage with their environment, gaining a much deeper understanding of the task at hand.
Collaborate with team members from around the world
The metaverse also provides an opportunity for deeper, more meaningful collaboration and experimentation among teams. Students and instructors can view one another’s avatars, help one another locate objects, test out different approaches to solving a problem, and review the results of their work in real-time.
By using a digital twin, maintenance and repair staff can easily explore different scenarios in their training they may encounter on the shop floor. They can view how a machine may behave when a certain bearing is wearing thin or a motor needs maintenance, and observe the results of different repairs so they can recognize the hallmarks of successful task completion.
Of course, since this takes place in a virtual environment, instructors can deliver training to students across the globe. Altogether, the metaverse offers an astoundingly interactive experience that increases lesson retention and better prepares students for real-world challenges.
Leverage the digital twin for incredibly accurate, easily created course materials
One of the biggest hurdles for training in the metaverse is the development and maintenance of up-to-date course materials. Creating course materials for VR is a challenge in and of itself, let alone regularly updating materials as machines and products invariably change.
Siemens offers manufacturers a tremendous advantage in this space. Any digital twin can be quickly and easily ported into a training course within the metaverse, making it easy to view and train with different machines or products - including those without a physical prototype. Furthermore, any changes made to the digital twin will be immediately reflected in the corresponding course materials.
Taking training to a new dimension
Until recently, the idea of effectively training teams through online courses would have seemed unbelievable. Today, it is becoming more and more common. While training in the metaverse may seem like something on the cutting-edge of manufacturing technology, the reality is that it will likely be everyday practice before we know it. Is your organization ready for virtual training?