In the manufacturing industry, old systems can create a comfort zone that makes it hard to try something new. Yet, amidst this reluctance to change, managers also contend with the tangible risk of downtime during both upgrade installations and training sessions.

History has demonstrated the importance of adapting to new technologies to maintain a competitive edge and foster innovation. Consider the industrial revolution: the initial investment was substantial, but the impact was transformational. Imagine if we had not taken that first step.

Extended reality (XR), designed to seamlessly integrate with legacy systems, can offer manufacturers a way to reduce the operational risk associated with staying ahead of the curve and implementing technological advancements. This immersive training can empower the workforce to learn how to operate legacy systems more effectively while efficiently implementing new advancements. Now, let’s explore what XR technology means, how it is being used to train workers effectively and the benefits it brings to the factory floor.

What is XR Technology?

XR combines VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality) and MR (mixed reality) to create immersive, interactive simulations and virtual environments. This technology is used by manufacturing organizations for training in virtual environments, interacting with equipment identical to what they will encounter on the job. Trainees can manipulate every bolt, wire and panel, gaining an unparalleled level of immersion compared to traditional training methods. The lifelike practice of complex concepts can provide a significantly better and faster understanding than passive classroom-based teaching methods. In the manufacturing industry, where high demand meets a limited number of machines, XR training provides the solution. For example, in an automobile factory setting, there is a high demand for throughput, but maybe only one or two assembly lines. Taking them offline for training could significantly impact revenue.

XR environments can eliminate this obstacle. For example, trainees can practice on virtual replicas, receiving the most effective interactive training, without disrupting production. This reduces downtime and enables both workers and the assembly line to contribute to continued growth.

Safety is a critical aspect of manufacturing, and XR technology excels in this area. Workers can experiment and learn from mistakes without real-world consequences, building confidence and skills at an accelerated pace.

Training Manufacturers to use XR Technology

Overcoming initial inertia is often the biggest hurdle to implementing XR training. While organizations may be intimidated by the perceived complexity, taking that first step and demonstrating value is quite easy as return on investment (ROI) is achieved quickly.

Manufacturing companies need to approach virtual training with an open mind and a willingness to embrace a new era of worker education. To make this process even smoother, an intuitive platform is key.

In immersive training environments, users can easily navigate digital simulations without cumbersome manuals. Simply put on the headset and pick a haptic device of your choosing — no need for clunky textbooks. As soon as the user is immersed in the experience, a natural suspension of disbelief occurs and they can intuitively learn the controls and procedures required to interact with the environment around them.

Certain procedure trainings offer guided or unguided versions. This means instructors can lead individuals or teams within the virtual environment — either while in the same physical space or via remote collaboration across the globe. It also means that students can use the immersive solution to study independently or take modules home for further self-paced practice.

Fueling Innovation on the Factor Floor

By embracing virtual training, organizations can unlock a multitude of benefits. Not only is it significantly better learning, it also reduces training time, from hours to mere minutes and minimizes costs associated with traditional on-site training, such as accommodation and classroom sessions.

This efficiency improvement not only reduces training washouts but also frees up resources for other areas. Virtual training also eliminates the limitations of the one-size-fits-all approach. Faster learners can progress at their own pace, while instructors can personalize the training journey based on individual needs. This is achieved through seamless integration of real-time learning data, empowering instructors to act as facilitators and curriculum developers, not just information deliverers.

Connecting multiple virtual users across the globe in a singular environment has a fascinating effect on group dynamics. Dispersed team even work Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development from Forming to Performing.

By embracing immersive training technology, organizations empower their employees to advance their mission-critical expertise. With intuitive learning capabilities and the ability to tailor training programs to the unique needs of each user, companies foster a dynamic and personalized learning environment. This paves the way for a more skilled and engaged workforce.