The Challenge

L’Union des Industries et Métiers de la Métallurgie (UIMM, or the Union of Metallurgy Industries and Crafts) is one of France’s largest industry-based unions, and they put a huge number of current and future metalworkers through their regional training centers. UIMM Région Havraise wanted to streamline the method for training metalworkers in certain standardized procedures such as regular maintenance and upkeep.

VR Maintenance Training

In order to meet their training needs, UIMM recognized that they would need an option that tackles the safety and logistical limitations that have always plagued trades such as metalworking. Seeing the variety of advanced technological approaches taken by outside companies and industries it became apparent the union would need to move its training methods towards VR maintenance training.

A LONG DETAILED PROCESS

While other trades may have more straightforward procedures, metalworkers must become accustomed to a wide range of tools and techniques for each unique situation. Therefore, adequate training does not only focus on the physical action of completing the task but also the preparation of choosing the right tools.

VOLUME OF TRAINEES

As one of the most prominent unions in the world’s sixth largest economy, UIMM has a wide variety of prospective metalworkers coming through their training facilities at any given time. Finding a single solution to be able to accommodate them all — regardless of skill level — seemed virtually impossible.

The Solution

Resulting from a partnership with EON Reality, UIMM Région Havraise developed a virtual reality training experience to guide metalworkers, new and old, through digital versions of the key procedures for bearing maintenance. Utilizing the Virtual Trainer program featured on EON Reality’s AVR Platform, UIMM’s trainees were able to walk through modules for workplace safety and job preparation in a more user-friendly manner than ever before. The new system, which featured the HTC Vive’s immersive VR headset and manual controls, provided lifelike digital reenactments while also offering the users with vital pieces of instruction and information along the way.

A COMPLETE JOURNEY

Rather than immediately placing the user into the work area and only focusing on the task at hand, the VR maintenance training lessons give the user the entire picture for both before and after the physical procedure itself. The ability to perform start-to-finish practice runs in virtual reality drastically improves the efficiency and confidence with which workers can perform in the field.

SAFETY AND PREPARATION

From bringing the paperwork to packing up the right tools, everything a metalworker would need to do in real life is digitally replicated (with appropriate reminders) in the app — creating a truly vivid and accurate experience. This helps workers become as prepared as possible when the time comes to follow the same procedures in the real world and decreases confusion and safety concerns should an unexpected circumstance arise.

DIGITAL WORKSPACE FOR EVERYONE

Regardless of what type of maintenance, upkeep, or repairs need to be done, using a virtual reality program allows every trainee to work in their own individual space. This alone drastically reduces the spatial
and logistical burden for teaching metalworking in personal or even small group settings.

The Results

Chainsaw — and other forestry-based tool — training is a vital part of development organizations, and it’s now significantly less dangerous thanks to the series of mobile apps available both in training workshops and on Google Play Store. With forestry serving as a vital piece of South Africa’s economy, the applications will see plenty of extra use providing full courses on chainsaw operation with none of the related risks for beginners and veterans alike in the coming years. Not only is the training safer for everyone, but UNIDO was so pleased with the results that it also created Virtual Reality apps for Saw-Log Optimization a few years later.