Virtual reality training tool offers immersive learning experience
08 September 2017
Virtual reality is becoming more popular in many arenas, especially as a training tool, due to its ability to provide a more immersive learning experience, writes Wood Group's Gavin Rogers
Virtual reality (VR) is becoming more popular in many arenas, especially as a training tool, due to its ability to provide a more immersive learning experience.
Wood Group design, construct and operate industrial facilities right across the asset life-cycle. Each day, thousands of Wood Group employees assist in operating facilities across the world with a commitment to prevent injuries so everyone, everywhere, each day returns home safely.
As part of this commitment, the Wood Group software development centre in Galway was tasked with providing an innovative solution to the health and safety training and awareness challenge.
Computer-based training (CBT) is used extensively to train site-based workers. However, Wood Group’s new VR training supplements traditional methods and enables users to experience the full repercussions of their actions without the exposure and risk of the real-world situation.
One of the major benefits of training with VR is that the trainees are not watching someone else do a task, or listening to how another person would do it; they are learning by doing. Trainees are immersed in virtual training situations where they can make real operational decisions and see the consequences of their actions.
Gavin Rogers, research, development and innovation manager at Wood Group, explained: “This is a first for Wood Group. We had clear vision to leverage our in-house VR capability to enhance our employee training. Our digital solutions team in Galway developed a hazard identification training course fully in the VR environment so users are immersed in the virtual world and have the ability to identify hazards, stop jobs and make sure that they can identify what is safe on site and more importantly what is not safe on site.
“The really innovative aspect about this project is that the user can see the consequence of how they behave in the training environment. If trainees identify hazards, it will demonstrate how the scenario will play out safely – but critically, if trainees don’t identify hazards, it will also show the consequence.
“For example, in one of the scenarios we’ve developed which relates to lifting operations, if the trainee fails to identify that a truck is not correctly supported the scene plays out showing a vehicle falling and narrowly missing a colleague. This really offers a much more powerful message than any previous training based on CBT or classroom-based presentations.
“We’ve already seen a real potential in harnessing VR for improving safety engagements with personnel within Wood Group. We’re now engaging with like minded, safety-conscious industries including construction, civil, mechanical, agricultural and biomedical to name a few, as we feel the learnings we’ve developed can be translated across to multiple fields.”
Application possibilities for VR training include:
- Initial and refresher training in key safety practices;
- Identifying new areas of behavioural and process risk by seeing how people interact with hazards;
- Inductions and familiarisation for sites that are difficult or expensive to access; and
- Conducting technical skills tests or assessments.
Gavin Rogers is a research, development and innovation manager at Wood Group in Galway. He has worked with Wood Group since 2003 and has over ten years of experience in research, engineering and software development for offshore structural analysis. He has been involved in major developments of Wood Group’s flagship finite element software as well as leading the development of a number of on-board riser management systems for planning and managing riser operations on-board drilling and well intervention vessels. Rogers currently works with Wood Group’s digital solutions team, supporting a wide range of research activities including the application of new technologies such as data analytics and virtual/augmented reality applications.