5 ways industrial companies can use extended reality to slash training costs and downtime

In the coming years, connected workers will be able to view multiple complex data sets through wearables, says Maurizio Galardo, chief technologist, XR, at AVEVA

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Amid the pandemic, swathes of global businesses rapidly accelerated their digital migration plans. Consequently, more companies are now practising immersive virtual training and realising its many benefits, such as better learning retention, increased safety, and improved productivity.

The concept of “gamification” – the principles and theories behind playing games – has been central to the swift progression of virtual training. Originally aimed at tech-hungry consumers, gamification techniques are now being applied to real-world industrial learning use cases.

One of the most notable international gamification successes was the smash-hit Pokémon Go ­in 2016. With billions of app downloads instructing real people to wander streets in search of tiny virtual creatures, the mobile game offered a mere glimpse of what augmented reality (AR) – technology that superimposes digital data and images on the physical world – can achieve today. The many learnings of Pokémon Go’s huge success have since been applied across global corporate contexts.

Industrial gamification

In the last five years, AR has been adapted to industries as varied as oil plants and marine yards, alongside other gamification technologies such as virtual reality (VR). Within these industrial environments, gamification helps simplify the transfer of complex knowledge for plant operators and general staff. 

In the future, the single biggest game-changer for virtual training will be an extended reality (XR) experience created with a potent and realistic combination of AI, VR, AR, and mixed reality (MR), powered by the cloud. 

The XR industry is expected to grow from $33 billion in 2021 to a staggering $125.2 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 30.6%, according to a report from Markets and Markets.

Here are five ways XR will transform industrial training in the next five years:

Learning by doing

The global success of Pokémon Go demonstrated how users are far more engaged when immersed in contextual gameplay. In the industrial world, the very same principles apply for improving trainee interactivity, retention, and engagement.

When AI is fused into the gamified training process, it’s possible to leverage the principles of gamification in real time. At AVEVA, we deliver video game-like training that is also totally dynamic and consistent with the plant reality. 

In an industrial learning sense, it’s now possible to familiarize yourself with the digital asset and see the real-time outcomes of your actions as-you-go in case of malfunction or failure.

Multi-person learning 

AVEVA XR software is the first solution capable of exploring all forms of XR, including AR, VR, and MR, to create the most suitable interface for workers, connecting assets, documentation, and real-time information, enabling the best decisions and most efficient work executions.

XR learning can link together teams from across the value chain — from control room operators and staff in the field to maintenance crew and other critical team members.

And there’s no time lag because each person can consult a range of AI-generated scenarios, presented in a simplified, interactive format on their own device, and act accordingly. 

No plant downtime

By leveraging XR, organizations can simultaneously run employee-training programmes while the plant is being constructed. This way, the plant is up-and-running as soon as it’s open – saving on valuable and costly downtime.

Slashed costs

In industrial environments, training simulators reduce time-to-value, improve cost efficiencies, and optimize return on investment. Depending on the company, immersive training systems can cut costs by 30% to 40%, reduce recovery times from shutdowns by 15% to 20%, and trim maintenance budgets by 1% to 3%, AVEVA data shows. 

Wearables

Today, most 3D visualization takes place by using overlay apps over tablets or monitors. In the future, the human machine interface (HMI) will be formed of wearable devices. This means there will be no time lag and the user will be able to place multiple data streams in context. 

Trainees will be able to use their normal vision to see live complex data streams in 3D vision, as well as connect with others in the same domain. In the coming years, we will be able to view multiple complex data sets through new and exciting lenses.

Most global XR adoption will take place in the next five to 10 years. At the seminal moment when XR takes over the “last mile” of data viewing through wearables – via a combination of AI, VR, and MR – the industry will progress exponentially, opening the world of training to almost limitless possibilities.

maurizio

Maurizio Galardo, chief technologist, XR, at AVEVA

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.