This article showcases how virtual and augmented reality training can help reduce skilled labour challenges with particular solutions for wood trades.
The acceleration of innovation and technology combined with challenges of attracting and keeping skilled, motivated workers are challenging wood industry processors and manufacturers and their ability to grow.
Based on a recent research by the
Government of Canada regarding skills training, key trends are influencing how and where training is done:
· Technology is changing people’s habits and how they teach and learn with trends towards computer based, experiential learning.
· Safety and compliance regulations require training of staff to keep them safe.
With most companies classified as small to medium sized, implementing and managing skills training can mean the difference in ensuring success or falling behind.
The challenges of training a young and diverse workforce new skills safely and effectively can be difficult in a classroom or a shop floor. These constraints include machine down time, material requirements, space and equipment needs. Moreover, learning new skills often involves a painstaking process of observation, effort, and loads of practice time. The old adage definitely applies, learning involves doing, trial and error and as humans, we can often achieve up to 80% retention when challenged with practice time and some direction.
Therefore, as there are challenges, there are also opportunities. With the evolution of virtual and augmented reality training, business owners, trainers and especially trainees are increasingly benefitting from immersive technologies. VR and AR is not new, and has been around for quite a number of years. As far back as the early 80s high powered systems were used to train military and aerospace personnel usually for things like flight simulation or building the Hubble telescope in space. These systems, were of course, very expensive and out of reach to most of industry.
It was not until the early 2000s that VR /AR systems were developed for general industrial and trades training. Applications now include, among others: welding, spray technologies, mining, oil and gas extraction, electrical and woodworking / processing trades. What these occupations have in common is that they are all are potentially risky, and require motor, sensory or dexterity type skills. For the wood industry, two solutions have been developed to serve primary wood processing and woodworking / cabinet making trades.
WOOD-ED Factory is a virtual training station dedicated to sawmill operators. It replicates the real situation of wood-sawing machine operations and teach, through a progressive set of exercises, the appropriate skills for the job. The software package is currently available in two distinct simulation systems: Headrig (manual steering) and Cantor line (auto operations trouble shooting), each challenging students through progressive learning exercises, playback and progress tracking.
WOOD-ED Table is a unique, augmented reality training system that simulates a choice of one of four types of woodworking machines (table saw, band saw, planer and router) in one.
Designed to train student Carpenters and Cabinet Makers, it also acts as a powerful teaching companion for instructors, helping them teach the trade safely, quickly and effectively!
Students learn in a completely safe environment, without fear of mistake or injury. They are immersed into an environment that provides realistic experiences in 3D vision, sound and a feeling of cutting real wood!
The unique, patented magnetic force feedback system creates resistance, along with very realistic sound, motion and vibration. With practice and risk free experimentation, students have the ability to hone into their muscle memory so that each task becomes natural and automatic.
Both systems use the powerful VULCAN LMS (Learning Management) system for analytics and lesson set up. Specifically geared to task-based learning, students and instructors can effectively access, track and communicate progress reports.
VR Training Project Manager
Taurus Craco Machinery, Inc.