AR/VR can revolutionize industrial training

IN THEORY, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) can make life simple for technicians in the industrial environment.

Whether teaching workers how to use heavy machinery for the first time or troubleshooting common issues, the applications and benefit of using AR and VR are clear.

However, Honeywell has tested this theory by developing an AR/VR based simulator to train the industrial workforce.

The company has launched a cloud-based simulation tool that uses a combination of AR and VR technology to train plant personnel on critical industrial work activities, called the Honeywell Connected Plant Skills Insight Immersive Competency.

The program is designed to bring new industrial workers up to speed quickly by enhancing training and delivering it in new and contemporary ways.

The company feels it’ll be especially useful now that almost 50 percent of industrial plant personnel are due to retire within the next five years.

In a press release, Honeywell revealed that its new solution leverages Microsoft’s HoloLens to provide an advanced training solution. It combines mixed reality with data analytics and insights from its experience in worker competency management to create an interactive environment for on-the-job training.

The Microsoft mixed reality headset simulates various scenarios for Honeywell’s C300 controller – such as primary failure and switchovers, cable and power supply failure – that train and test personnel on their skills.

By simulating specific job activities through virtual environments Honeywell’s solution offers a natural way to interact and communicate with peers or a trainer. Similar to a flight simulator, trainees can safely experience the impacts of their decisions.

In practice, the company found that the approach improves skill retention versus traditional training methods by up to 100 percent and reduces the length of technical training by up to 150 percent.

“Honeywell’s unique approach to industrial training and competency development, combined with the Windows Mixed Reality platform and devices, is a good example of a major industrial player proactively and creatively driving digital transformation,” said Lorraine Bardeen, General Manager for Mixed Reality at Microsoft.

“This is the first solution that directly links industrial staff competency to plant performance by measuring the training’s effectiveness based on real outcomes,” added Bardeen.

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