tuX Feedback: Virtual Labs Make Training Fun Again

September 20, 2022
  • Jeannine Kuntz
    By Jeannine Kunz
    Chief Workforce Development Officer
    Tooling U-SME


We recently launched Tooling U-SME’s new virtual reality training curriculum, Virtual Labs, at our annual tuXperience in Pittsburgh.

The new immersive technology for the manufacturing industry bridges the gap between learning and doing, accelerating upskilling, and increasing retention.

It was exciting to see attendees don the Meta Quest 2 headsets and try the virtual reality technology. Some people were regular gamers, yet most had never had an immersive experience before.

Within minutes of trying the headsets, attendees of all ages and experience levels were moving comfortably around a bright, clean virtual facility, successfully completing assigned tasks.

Regardless of age or experience, Virtual Labs are accessible—and fun.

Here is a sampling of feedback:

  • “Safety is a huge issue in manufacturing. If you're going to make a mistake, if you're going to crash a machine, if you're going to have a problem, do it in VR, because obviously it's a lot cheaper as well as a lot safer for employees.”
  • “The ability to do e-learning and now virtual reality learning is important and there's a high demand for it. We have to get creative. There's a shortage of instructors, and we can use these resources.”
  • “It makes training fun again because it's very immersive.”
  • “The virtual reality is really cool. I could see how the younger generation would really enjoy it. I also think that anyone would really think it's a cool thing to immerse yourself in.”
  • “We put the virtual reality training in a central place. Now other employees are asking if they can sign up for training.”

Virtual Manufacturing Training

So, it’s an exciting new technology that helps with learning. But what’s the business advantage for manufacturers?

At SME, we believe in the advancement of technology and the advancement of people. We believe that true innovation comes to companies, communities, countries when those two things are in sync.

In manufacturing, however, we find that technology is outpacing our people even though we haven't even harnessed all the technology that sits in front of us today…let alone tomorrow.

The first step is to have a workforce development strategy. Yet we found 54 percent of companies don't have a plan to address the needs of their workforce. That has to change.

We must get our people up at least to the level of our technology. Virtual Labs help with that, enhancing productivity, increasing safety, lowering costs, and engaging a younger workforce.

Enhancing Manufacturing Training

Sometimes in manufacturing, we'll be very technology rich in our manufacturing operations, but not equally so in the learning process.

If we're going to harness the opportunities that are available to us through Smart Manufacturing, we must begin to address the skills and knowledge of our people.

Just as the manufacturing industry is embracing technology to move better and faster into the future, we can also optimize training and its effectiveness and scalability through leveraging technology like this.

Virtual Labs are the centerpiece of an Applied Learning Model, a three-pronged blended learning approach.

Based on the concept of Learn-Practice-Perform, the Virtual Labs are an efficient way to safely build knowledge that contributes to confidence and proficiency.

It’s an opportunity to take an e-learning class to gain a knowledge base and understanding of foundational concepts through standard instruction. Then learners move into practice mode in a safe, repeatable virtual environment where they try out the skills learned in their course. Finally, through on-the-job training, they perform each task on the shop floor or in the classroom.

When we talk to customers—whether educators working with our young students or inside the four walls of a company—they really like this idea of a practice space between learning and performing. We now provide this middle opportunity of applied learning that is safe and cost-effective.

Try VR Training

With Virtual Labs, Tooling U-SME continues its commitment to helping the industry adapt by providing state-of-the-art delivery methods and leading-edge content to upskill the workforce.

We find that people are excited about the opportunity to learn differently and to apply technology in a way that they hadn't experienced before.

By providing realistic, immersive experiences for learners to work with simulated equipment, Tooling U-SME Virtual Labs accelerate competency for real world manufacturing situations. This helps build the workforce of today and tomorrow.

Let us know if you’d like to demo Virtual Labs and help your company accelerate upskilling and engagement. Contact Tooling U-SME at 866.706.8665 or learn more about Virtual Labs.

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