Siemens Setting the Bar: Supporting Customers With Virtual Reality Training
Industry giant, Siemens has once again set the bar for technical innovation. In addition to the incredibly advanced products and solutions they constantly offer their customers, Siemens Low Voltage Products in the U.S. will be offering Virtual Reality-based training to them as well. Learners will be able to immerse themselves in VR space and interact with Siemens’ products like never before – in a consequence-free environment. Learning time is greatly reduced while still steadily increasing knowledge retention. Decreased as well are the cost and logistical burdens of transporting personnel and equipment to training sites geographically. Additionally, the solution is built to scale, meaning it is designed to accept more areas of content curriculum in the future.
Customer Support Like Never Before
As an organization, one of the pillars keeping Siemens in business for almost 170 years is supporting their customers. And they certainly have a very complex landscape of “customers” to support. Their channel is extremely broad, containing: electrical contractors, engineers, architects, and distributors of all sizes. Delivering the right solution to properly support these various types of customers is indeed a challenge, but one that Siemens has met head-on through a very robust Virtual Reality execution.
From a nuts and bolts perspective, Siemens wanted to decrease the current expenditure on product training efforts. Considering a global company of that size, shipping personnel and equipment to all the places it needs to be is extremely expensive. And that is just for one single product solution – they have thousands. Another goal was to create an experience like none other in their industry through the use of Virtual Reality. This is a storied business built on tradition and “the way things have always been done” so to be first-to-market with an approach like this was key. Lastly, the solution needed to be scalable. The approach needed to be built on a platform – a foundation – that allows future additions for other products and solutions, as well as capabilities for learning.
This is how they would change the game.
The V3CORE Training Platform answers the call in addressing these challenges. It’s unparalleled scalability, reliability and overall robustness place it in rarified air. The current version of the Siemens Virtual Reality training module centers on one of their Power Panel products. One of the key features of the V3CORE Training Platform is procedure-based learning. Learners are walked through and interact with a procedure to outfit the panel with a collection of circuit breakers for the panel. The instruction utilizes the “Show me, teach me, let me try” experiential learning model. Learners have work instructions clearly called out in front of them denoting each step of the process. They have the ability to watch a demonstration animation of each step to become more familiar with what is expected. Lastly – and with most impact – they interact with objects in the scene, whether tools or products, to actually perform the required work. This interaction is the key learning moment. After this moment they will have a memory of actually doing the work. With this procedural model, performing operations in the correct way, in the correct order, is the only way to advance. There is only one way to do things – the right way. So when the student encounters the Siemens equipment in the field, they do so with a significantly higher amount of pre-knowledge, the benefits of which are vast.
The environment is immersive and comparable to the real world so that there are few to no speed bumps in believability for anyone going through the training. The goal when architecting such a solution is to create a space as real as possible without the consequences of the real world. We learn far more from failure than success. Fail early. Fail often. This is a cornerstone to this type of instructional approach and an attribute of using a visualization technique like Virtual Reality.
Despite the electrical industry being so diverse in member age, the majority of individuals, regardless of their age, still benefit from and need training such as this. So, it’s required that training in VR be digestible by an older audience as well as younger groups. The purpose is defeated if anyone feels overwhelmed by learning “a VR app,” THEN proceeding to their training. The solution should be designed in such a way as to create a training experience that just happens to be in Virtual Reality.
The use of VR in the training space cuts learning time dramatically. Classes take less time and instructors and students are re-purposing that extra time toward other gains. The landscape has changed! Training audiences are putting down their lengthy instruction manuals and three-ring binders, and closing the PowerPoint presentations. They’re excited to learn now. Because it doesn’t feel like learning anymore… it feels like life. Life without the consequences.
View a video created internally by Siemens talking about the VR Training initiative.
This one day…
Never one to take a false step, Siemens previewed the training solution to a group of customers at a prominent electrical contractor in the Midwest. The goal of the meeting was to simply show the audience of upper management the solution and get their thoughts. The contractor liked the tool so much they insisted some technicians be brought in immediately to go through the training-not as a true-to-life test - as real training! They saw the immediate benefit and opportunity and seized it. Multiple technicians went through the training that day and were ecstatic about their experience. Training those technicians in VR took a fraction of the time as compared to doing the actual procedures in the real world. And as a result, each student felt better about future encounters with that equipment in the field because they would arrive with so much more knowledge – knowledge they otherwise wouldn’t have had.
Scalability & The Future
To be worthy of investment in this day and age, in addition to providing ROI, you need to have a plan for the future and how you want to get there. The V3CORE Platform has been built with scalability in mind. The platform is a robust collection of features and functionality years in the making and very inclusive in terms of what it does and, more importantly, what clients can do with it. Curriculum can be added in phases because the content is treated as a module. And as new updates and features get added to the V3CORE foundation, those are automatically downloaded and installed.
Siemens is taking full advantage of this aspect. Discussions are already underway to add another product’s procedure to the solution. The vision for Siemens has always been a wide collection of products/solutions that serve as launch pads for training. And they are on their way of achieving that. VisionThree is proud to stand beside them on that journey.
Lastly, what used to be future-facing discussion is now present-day reality. Virtual Reality hardware has evolved to a point to where it is untethered (not requiring a separate PC) and cost effective to adopt. Devices like the Oculus Quest are bringing VR Training to the masses and changing the training environment forever.
So, between the V3CORE Training Platform, the content, and the hardware, it’s a very bright future for Siemens – or any other company that wishes to step up their training game and innovate using VR as a learning approach.