GLASS manufacturer Beatson Clark is using virtual reality technology to train up new recruits on complex production machines.
The company has partnered with virtual reality (VR) experts VRMT to develop the “pioneering” new training system, which aims to help staff understand more detail about the glass-making process.
The training model recreates lifelike 3D virtual models of the factory environment and allows new IS machine operators to fully understand the bottle forming process and identify faults.
Trevor Phillips, production and engineering director at Beatson Clark, explained, “We have been working closely with VRMT for several months to develop the program, which is the first of its kind to be used by a glass manufacturer anywhere in the world.
“Trying to learn the glass forming process from a book, or even on a shop floor, is difficult because the trainee cannot see exactly what is happening, so it takes quite a while to grasp.”
He continued, “Because the virtual machine is highly visual the trainee becomes immersed in the program – rather like when you are engrossed in a good movie – and it becomes easier to recall what has happened.”
Trevor added, “Currently the VR program is training machine operators, but in the future we can also use it to provide detailed refresher training for existing staff.”
Tony Pawinski from VRMT said, “Trevor showed great vision in the early days and immediately saw the future potential of VR for revolutionising IS training, not just for the machine operators new and old but also for a whole raft of personnel who are indirectly involved with the production of glass containers.”
Trevor said he was interested to see how quickly someone could go from having no knowledge of the forming process at all to being able to explain how it works without any help. Karen Scholey, buyer at Beatson Clark, volunteered.
She said, “As someone with no previous knowledge of the glass-making process I found the VR training to be an excellent way of learning. It is now one week since my training and I am surprised how much I can still recall!”