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Fulton Hogan revs up workplace learning with virtual reality


Fulton Hogan revs up workplace learning with virtual reality

30 October 2017

Leading New Zealand civil engineering and resource company Fulton Hogan is pioneering new ways of using Virtual Reality (VR) to help team members upskill in realistic training scenarios without compromising safety.

Using the company’s VR Boil Out app, developed together with Corvecto, Fulton Hogan employees have the opportunity to virtually perform the Boil Out procedure step-by-step, and see the potentially harmful consequences of any mistakes – all while in a safe environment.

The Boil Out procedure involves decontaminating bitumen sprayers and tankers once water has become present. The unintended mixing of water and bitumen can create a ‘boil over’ effect where bitumen can be sprayed with considerable force over a wide area, putting people’s safety at risk.

Fulton Hogan Innovation Manager Chloe Smith says that VR training eliminates the risks of training in a ‘live’ situation and has also improved engagement during training, helping team members to retain crucial knowledge.

“Trainees don VR goggles as well as headphones, which makes the simulation highly immersive,” Chloe says. “You actually feel like you are standing on top of the tank, looking down from a height. Along with this the sound effects are so realistic you really do feel like you are physically present in the scenario.”

The risk factors are outlined clearly at the start of the training and when mistakes are made, trainees are virtually transported to a room where a screen outlines the errors they made and the steps they should have taken. They are then able to repeat the task, with knowledge of their previous mistakes, and improve their performance.

Trainees are tracked throughout the process, recording all the decisions that were made, and how long they spent completing each task. This data is added to their training records for future reference.

“Our experience with VR for the ‘boil over’ training confirms what we have already learnt from our significant investment in virtual driver training – that our team members relate to the gamification of the technical learning and really get into it with an enthusiasm that is sometimes not there with traditional classroom training,” Chloe says.

In 2015 the company, which has more than 3,000 vehicles on the road, purchased a pair of state-of-the-art simulators capable of re-creating a range of New Zealand driving conditions including night driving, sudden road obstructions and conditions including wind, rain, fog and snow.

The simulators are now transported around the country so that the company’s 3,800 New Zealand-based employees, as well as school students and community partners, can broaden their on-road skills.

Fulton Hogan says VR technology has proven to be especially effective for training team members in potentially unsafe activities and the company is now exploring the use of VR training in other similar operational areas.

Fulton Hogan’s VR training app was selected as a finalist in the Innovation in the Education, Training & Development category at the 2017 New Zealand Innovation Awards.

(ENDS)

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