September 17, 2021
The New Digital Transformation Era of Industrial Plants
In a world where we can’t even function without technology, it was quite surprising to find that up until recently, industrial plants were mainly using old-fashioned training methods, e.g. reading or shadowing, for hands-on jobs. But how can someone really prepare for a highly hands-on job using just these outdated methods?
Highly awaited revolution
When new recruits don’t receive the right training, the risk of accidents increases dramatically, training times become longer, and both senior staff and new recruits are less efficient.
Virtual reality is becoming more prevalent and has started an educational revolution in many industries. Since the old-fashioned methods are not an efficient way to train staff, our team began to make some radical changes. The resulting Linde Virtual Academy allows operators in the oil and gas industry to physically practice complex procedures with their own hands, rather than having to learn by reading lengthy manuals. Now the question is, what could VR learning bring to your company?
The 5 benefits of VR learning
A study Digital Catapult – The Immersive Economy in the UK 2019 clearly describes the advantages of VR training. Here are five reasons why you should consider investing in VR training.
1. Although operators who are learning from standard operating procedures and operating manuals do attain the expected skills level, the outcome isn’t optimal. In fact, the training takes too long, requiring a considerable time investment by instructors, mentors and the operators themselves. According to the study, VR learning is 4 times faster than classroom-based learning. How to work in a facility like an industrial plant is not something you can learn just by reading. In reality, the trainee has to learn from their mistakes, but out in the field, there is no room for error.
2. Trainees are three times more confident in applying the skills learned. Confidence enhances employee satisfaction, improves the quality of their output and reduces the number of mistakes they make. Moreover, it also leads to increased employee retention, so that the vital knowledge stays in house.
3. VR learners are also 3.5 times more emotionally connected to the training content. This emotional connection results in better understanding. Further, they retain more information for longer. In practice, it has been proven that operators learn best if they are involved in deciding how they learn. With VR, an operator can take the course at any time anywhere, and they can repeat it until they are completely confident. With VR, the learning experience is very realistic and much more immersive. Why settle for boring classroom training when learning can be fun and so much more effective?
4. VR learners are 4 times more focused. VR courses and scenarios demand their full attention, which means they get the maximum out of the training. With VR, operators feel like they are in a whole other location: at the top of a tower feeling exposed to the high elevation and surrounded by many other hazards and challenges. This leads to an enhanced sense of presence and greater focus, resulting in more effective learning. Moreover, operators in a VR environment can make all sorts of mistakes without causing any real-life harm. They can master the operation skills in a stress-free, engaging, and lifelike environment. “If you can do it in VR, you are better prepared to do it in real life,” explained Feras Alhothali, innovation manager and cofounder of the Linde Virtual Academy.
5. VR training is more cost effective than traditional ways of learning. As more operators are trained this way, the company gets higher returns in terms of the time saved during training. All you need is a VR capable computer and a VR headset and your company is ready to take a step up in learning.
Why is the Linde Virtual Academy so special?
The Linde Virtual Academy (LVA) offers all those benefits. Envisioned as a continually expanding library of VR training courses for field operators in industrial plants, LVA delivers the most effective hands-on training program for all kinds of operations. During their training, an operator can move around a plant, operate different units, assess the risk in various situations and respond to emergencies. LVA’s goal is to enable every trainee to physically practice through an infinite number of scenarios anywhere anytime. With LVA, you can overcome the challenges you may be facing with your training processes while meeting the highest safety standards.
We asked Lwazi Mkhandabila, director of Bulk & On-Site Plants from Afrox, to tell us first-hand a bit about the effect that using LVA has had on their business: “Just like we are seeing in a variety of industries, from construction to aviation, I believe VR is at the forefront for innovation in high-risk industries, and it will have increasingly high importance in training. We have seen how LVA is having a strong and positive impact on our business, and how it provides higher reliability and efficiency than outdated training methods.”
The future of VR in the oil and gas industry
Despite its revolutionary impact on operator training, VR is still in its infancy, and new, groundbreaking features are being rolled out every day. We believe the possibilities of this technology are endless. We are looking forward to experiencing innovation in this field first-hand. We are aiming to be leaders in VR training technology for industrial plants worldwide.