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Virtual Reality: Future of Industrial Product Training in Oil & Gas Industry
“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”Aristotle (The Nicomachean Ethics)
Industrial products training is one of the most significant investments made by the Oil & Gas industry for safety and operations. To ensure safe operations in hazardous and complex environments unique to Oil & Gas industry companies, industrial product training is a must. Legacy product training approaches are no longer adequate in the new normal of frequent business disruptions, increased competition, and sustainable growth commitments. New technologies are now increasingly being deployed to modernize and effectively scale enterprise training programs. Many companies in the Oil & Gas sector are turning to VR training applications for this purpose. Let’s explore the reasons why this is so.
The challenges of training in the Oil & Gas industry
- Complex and Custom Equipment: Oil & Gas industry equipment and environment are not just complex, it is custom-engineered and often unique to each division of the company. Therefore product training has to be customized for multiple specific equipment product lines covering installation, operation, and maintenance. This combination of complexity and customization is a significant challenge for managing costs in creating and updating effective product training programs.
- Expensive Equipment: Traditionally new employees were trained on physical equipment installed onsite. Adequate time and access to expensive and on-installed equipment creates bottlenecks for product training. If the experience of interacting with operational equipment is impossible, companies turn to videos, powerpoints, and video conference-based approaches, with a predictable loss in efficacy and efficiency of product training programs.
- Safety and Environmental Hazards: Oil & Gas industry regulations often prevent training a workforce on the actual equipment situated in hazardous operating environments. The risk of catastrophic error and injury has to be weighed against the benefits of industrial product training directly in a hazardous environment. This is a catch-22 situation for Oil & Gas industry where it is critical to achieving high safety standards in the workforce.
- Access to Training Equipment: The remoteness of a worksite means that it can sometimes be impossible to train new employees on an actual piece of equipment, or train existing employees on a new piece of equipment. Additionally, the nature of work in this industry oftentimes necessitates a long shift pattern, lasting weeks or longer (ex. 3 weeks on, 3 weeks off), meaning it’s paramount to optimize the online time of the equipment itself.
- Workforce Turnover and Limitations: Workforce shortages often require industrial trainers and subject matter experts to spend part of their time working in the field, while at the same time requiring the hiring of potentially less qualified candidates. This combination of fewer training resources and a workforce requiring more extensive training is pushing current training capabilities to the limit.
What are the legacy training solutions in the Oil & Gas Industry?
- Onsite Live Training- In an ideal world, this would be the first and most effective training choice. In reality, it is costly, difficult to scale, risky, and often just not feasible.
- Remote Live Training: Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc. are cheaper to deploy and eliminate safety hazards, access, and complex scheduling, but cannot capture the benefits of hands-on experience. Trainees cannot uniformly understand and retain the content. While video conferencing allows some interaction with the instructor, it clearly lacks the very critical interaction with actual equipment.
- Self-Paced e-Learning (PDFs/PPTs/Videos/Online): This approach is scalable, safe, and certainly more cost-effective than onsite training. However, there is little to no interactivity either with a trainer or with the learning content. Course content (videos, documents, etc.) are expensive to create and update, and often lags deployment of new equipment when needed. Course content can be out of date by years or lack QC processes, and this in turn defeats the primary goal of training itself.
- Virtual Reality (VR) Training: VR training offers a transformational potential of combining all the three categories of training discussed above. VR training technology creates a one-to-one scale-realistic experience interacting with complex virtual models of equipment that is simply impossible with any other remote technology. VR Training has a proven ROI in improving learning retention and overall training benefits. VR training with a corresponding platform can be used for delivering instructor-led training (virtual classrooms), ad-hoc social learning, as well as self-paced learning.
One of the major challenges of VR training modality is the complexity, cost, and time to deploy. VR training created in game engines is almost akin to movie production. It requires a team of designers, 3D artists, programmers, and rigorous QC. It can take weeks and months to build a training module, which is contrary to the needs of the industry.
How does one go about creating and delivering scalable, cost-effective industrial product training solutions?
VR training solutions are becoming a popular choice. PWC recently published research demonstrating VR training as a more effective approach. In comparison to legacy training, learning in VR training was 4 times faster and users felt 4 times more emotionally connected to the content.
Many organizations might hesitate to put in place VR training systems due to time limits, cost involved, or complexity of solutions. That is not the case with the iQ3Connect VR training and product collaboration solution.
iQ3connect provides enterprises a frictionless path to converting existing CAD models to optimized VR models. Simply upload CAD data and convert it to a VR model in minutes. Share the 3D content with a simple link to experience CAD in a collaborative 3D digital VR workspace. Invite your colleagues, customers, vendors, and suppliers to collaborate or train in your own enterprise Metaverse accessible with a simple web browser or an immersive 3D experience in a VR headset such as Oculus or Microsoft Mixed Reality.
How does iQ3Connect is different from other VR training solutions?
The iQ3Connect platform offers unique advantages for creating and deploying VR training for enterprises to leverage the overall benefits of VR training applications:
- Reuse CAD models: Create a custom training by converting existing CAD models to optimized VR models. Upload CAD models, convert to VR models, share a link. Create quick XR training anytime and share anywhere. No manual effort is required to clean up and simplify CAD models which can be a tedious effort.
- Save time and cost: There is a huge cost involved in time and effort for developing custom VR content. And it’s not a one-time cost, but a recurring cost to update content as industrial designs change. iQ3connect makes it easy to update a training module whenever content such as CAD models are updated.
- Enriched VR content: Customize content with additional information and data like JPEGs, Videos, 360-degree panorama images, or PDF manuals. It is also possible to create specific information tags and critical information to highlight any company-specific information. Authoring VR training with media requires no coding.
- Easy installation and secure data: Install iQ3Connect on-premise to create your own branded Metaverse within your enterprise’s secure network. Alternatively, use a Virtual Private Server such as Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure to access iQ3Connect in the cloud with secure access via a web browser for your employees, suppliers, vendors, and customers.
iQ3connect is specifically designed for industrial product training applications and has useful features to enable anyone to create VR training efficiently at a fraction of the cost of custom VR applications. iQ3 provides support to help realize the full potential of VR training with best practices, industry knowledge, and more than extensive production use by major corporations.
For more information please do connect with us for a free trial and consultation.