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Oct 2, 2020

OPERATORS NAVIGATE INSIDE THE POCLAIN MOTOR WITH VIRTUAL REALITY

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With tech-savvy millennials and generation Z employees populating the workforce, training at Poclain Hydraulics needed to evolve. The traditional workbenches are outdated in comparison to the attention-grabbing graphics on mobile phones. Young job seekers also tend to view the hydraulic industry as less appealing than high-tech industries. So tech-enabled training using mixed reality (augmented and virtual) is a new way to attract and train the new generation of operators.

Nicolas Durlin, Poclain Hydraulics manufacturing engineer, launched the mixed reality project at the beginning of 2019. With Loïc Sainte Beuve, the plant general manager, he set the goal of increasing operator awareness in two areas: quality and safety.

They collaborated with 6 Freedom, a start-up specialized in building training applications in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) for industries, to design two training modules. The first one takes the trainee inside a Poclain Hydraulics motor to understand how it operates. The second puts the trainee in high-risk situations that can cause injury, such as reading a text message while driving a forklift truck. “When a high-risk event occurs, you have no time to think. With augmented reality training, you can repeat moves repeatedly, until they become automatic,” explains Nicolas. “Trainee retention is also much higher than with academic training, because you are completely immersed, and you learn through doing.”

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The modules are available to any employee who works directly or indirectly on the shop floor. The augmented reality session is part of an on-site course led by a trainer, who remains the centerpiece of the skill acquisition process. “Augmented reality is very powerful, however it will never replace the interaction between the trainer and the trainee,” Nicolas adds. The Poclain Hydraulics training room is equipped with an HTC headset, a Microsoft Hololens and a large screen for the group of trainees to guide and give their feedback to the trainee wearing the headset.

Virtual reality training is available to all shop floor employees at the French head office in Verberie.

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