Time-consuming, expensive, and frequently uninspiring; there must be a better way to upskill and onboard employees… And there is.
Immersive learning can massively boost training efficiency and skill retention in the manufacturing industry. In this article, we’re going to see how you can rapidly build your own immersive virtual training platform, and how this can lead to significant cost savings plus an improved ROI for manufacturers.
The complex training needs of manufacturers
Training a fact of life for any business. But for the manufacturing industry, training can be more costly and challenging than in other sectors.
Like many industries, innovation is a prime driver for success in manufacturing. It’s critically important for training to be kept up-to-date, so that future innovations aren’t constrained by a lack of skills.
For manufacturers, training needs are highly varied. It includes complex, hands-on learning experiences, combined with theoretical knowledge and technical expertise. There are multiple skill levels and competencies involved too.
Visibility over progress
In many cases, the factory floor can only run properly when there’s a full complement of trained personnel available. So, any training program must go hand-in-hand with full visibility over your employees and their skills acquisition.
Some manufacturers have started using Learning Management Systems (LMSs) and training platforms. These can give you streamlined training, combined with visibility over progress. However, the difficulty comes when you need ‘made to measure’ training that fits your unique business.
Now, it’s possible to build your own immersive training platform powered by extended reality (XR) technologies like virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR). These immersive technologies have been shown to improve training outcomes, achieve faster results, and reduce costs. Compared to the costs of ‘traditional’ training regimes, these solutions are very favorable indeed.
Counting the costs of training in manufacturing
Training might be non-negotiable, but the costs certainly are. Let’s consider the ‘typical’ example of technicians orienting on a new machine, and see how the costs add up. This example illustrates many of the common challenges and how quickly the costs accrue.
Traveling Time: First, there’s the time spent traveling to the location. This is measurable as lost work and productivity. As a general rule, you can assume that each 1-hour training session will cost each employee 3 to 4 hours in lost productivity when travel is needed.
Traveling Costs: Next, there’s the cost of travel for every trainee and the cost to the environment when non-sustainable transport is used.
Venue Costs: Then there’s the cost of renting a venue for the training to take place in. Depending on how far people need to travel, you might need to pick a venue that’s equidistant for all attendees or a location that’s easy to get to. Alternatively, you could use space on the factory floor or another area in your facility. Either way, it costs in terms of lost productivity or rental costs.
Instructor Costs: Of course, you’ll need to hire an instructor to lead the training. This can sometimes be split across a larger group size, but there’s a limit to how many people can be trained at one time and how effective this will be.
Opportunity Costs/Depreciation: And finally, because you’re training technicians on one of your own machines, there’s the opportunity cost (because the machine isn’t being used for production) to consider. Besides this, there’s the potential for damage or injury whenever real machines are used for training.
How immersive training platforms reduce the costs of training in manufacturing
Immersive technologies like VR are used in manufacturing in many different ways, and training is definitely one of the most valuable applications among them.
Immersive virtual training is well suited to creating integrated learning experiences, because the digital medium makes it easier to follow progress and maintain good records. There are several ways that virtual training with AR or VR (and other extended reality) can drive down the costs of learning. Here are some of them:
Each lesson can be used by thousands of trainees – or millions, even. There’s no theoretical limit. Because it’s reproducible, you spread the costs of a single instructor over a much larger number of learners, potentially stretched-out over several years.
Immersive learning with XR is much faster than traditional methods. For example, onboarding is achievable in just 25% of the time taken by ‘regular’ training. This reduces lost productivity for everyone.
A study by PwC into the effectiveness of virtual reality training showed that participants felt 3.75X more emotionally connected to the learning material compared to ‘classroom’ learners. They were also 4X more focused than e-learners and 1.5X more focused than classroom learners. Other studies have shown that information retention can be in the region of 10X better than traditional approaches.
No need to wait
Trainees don’t need to wait their turn with immersive training. They can get ‘hands-on’ straightaway, using 3D models that don’t need to be shared with colleagues or passed around. This reduces the time required of each trainee and accelerates progress.
There’s nothing worse than needing to cancel or rebook a training session because of scheduling conflicts or illness. With VR or AR learning programs, trainees can access training programs in a flexible way that suits them. This contributes to a high rate of utilization, and better training levels across your workforce.
Pace and repetition
Virtual learning programs put the trainee in the driver’s seat. They can go as fast or slow as they need to, and repeat tasks over and over until they get it 100% right. In a group learning environment, the pace needs to match the average for the whole group, and repetition costs money.
People love virtual training with VR and AR. It’s highly engaging, with a game-like experience that feels fun and makes information more memorable. GenZ and GenAlpha are digital natives who have grown up with this kind of process. Interacting with a 3D virtual environment and repeating tasks until the desired result is achieved is something that feels completely natural to the next generation. Because of this enthusiasm, trainees will look forward to gaining new skills and will become more invested in their own progress.
Exactly how much cheaper is virtual immersive training?
According to PwC, the costs of VR learning are 52% lower than traditional methods, on average.
However, this might not reflect your situation accurately. If you want to calculate the costs of virtual training more accurately, we’ve created a dedicated ROI calculator for the manufacturing industry.
This way, you can determine your ROI for manufacturing training more precisely and compare it to your current system.
Reducing your training costs without compromising on quality
By building your own immersive training program, your manufacturing business can retain its unique edge and keep pace with innovation. These digital learning platforms can make it easier to track the progress of trainees and have a clear overview of which skills have been attained, and at what level.
It’s also easier to match the pace to each learner, making training more accessible. Each trainee can repeat learning tasks until they get the required result without costing much more for each repetition. This helps trainees reach the highest level of attainment at a much lower cost.
The costs of producing this kind of custom-built training program are surprisingly small – much less than traditional approaches. And you also get an improved ROI in manufacturing training, as each lesson is used more often. This means that your investment in training is being put to work almost constantly. With faster learning and better outcomes, you get better results for less cash upfront.
If you’re still not sure whether you really can reduce training costs, then try out the manufacturing ROI calculator to check your situation.
And, if you want to start creating your own 3D immersive training environment, Fectar can offer advice on the best course of action.