Live environment training is costly and dangerous. Is extended reality the answer?
We spoke with E3IQ’s Co-Founder and Director of Extended Reality (XR), Satwik Kommabhatla, to learn more about the hazardous, inefficient nature of live environment training. In particular, we explored the ways in which XR can solve a range of these challenges for organisations in the energy industry.
As industrial applications of technology help energy companies become increasingly agile, training is a function that’s ripe for transformation. Traditional classroom-based approaches are falling short on all fronts, offering limited effectiveness, presenting significant safety risks, and requiring excessive resources, says E3IQ Co-Founder and Director of Extended Reality (XR) Satwik Kommabhatla.
“At E3IQ, we conducted a survey that yielded some striking results,” Kommabhatla says. “Regular classroom-based training was found on average to achieve an effectiveness rate of just 30 percent.”
XR is a multi-faceted solution to these existing challenges. The technology allows instructors to conduct immersive training sessions in simulated environments. Not only does this offer organisations a way to mitigate major risks, but it provides higher quality training that is comparable to real experience. With an effectiveness rate of over 70 percent, Kommabhatla says that E3IQ’s XR-based lessons was more than twice as successful at training workers. It’s also cheaper and less operationally disruptive to run.
The limitations of live environment training
Offering insight into the outdated training methods still used widely by companies, Kommabhatla explains that organisations tend to deliver a series of web-based training schemes that rely on videos and classroom-based lessons. When trainees complete this stage, they apply their knowledge in live environments after instructors carry out basic demonstrations. These sessions are rarely interactive, and they take skilled engineers away from their main work for extended periods of time.
“The success of the standard training method is highly dependent on a range of variables, including the different abilities trainees have to retain the information presented in the classroom,” Kommabhatla says. “Regardless of how well trainees can retain information from a video, these conditions are not optimal for building true expertise and awareness.”
To learn anything efficiently you should not be distracted by the potential consequences of a mistake, which in the case of oil and gas can be very serious
Above all, Kommabhatla makes it clear that there are significant safety risks associated with live environment training. In most cases, trainees are completing tasks for the first time, often in highly dangerous circumstances. As Kommabhatla notes, mistakes can be costly for companies and fatal for trainees.
Such high-pressure environments are bound to impact performance as well, which is another reason why virtual training is so valuable. XR lacks the stress of live environments, which can significantly limit the effectiveness of a demonstration.
“In my experience, it is clear that to learn anything efficiently you should not be distracted by the potential consequences of a mistake, which in the case of energy can be very serious,” Kommabhatla explains. “An environment that provides complete freedom offers the most effective means of learning, one in which you identify and act upon potential hazards without the pressure of dangerous or costly outcomes.”
The growing adoption of XR
A number of innovative energy organisations are already beginning to incorporate XR in their training programs. Prominent applications include everything from operational and safety training for forklift trucks to high-precision training relating to machinery and instruments. Kommabhatla highlights another key benefit of training in simulated, XR-driven environments.
“Not only would live, hands-on training with critical machinery be hazardous, but it is also costly to take important equipment out of operation while new employees are trained to use it,” he says. “XR technologies provide multiple benefits as solutions to these challenges, by improving training quality and optimising operational efficiency simultaneously.”
XR technologies are also well positioned to help train new engineers to conduct maintenance, given their unique ability to simulate different scenarios. A range of malfunctions and problems can occur when running wide arrays of complex machinery, and it is impossible to provide trainees with an active understanding of all of them in a live environment. In a simulation, new engineers have the opportunity to gain familiarity with an extensive sample of potential maintenance requirements, making them better equipped to effectively tackle the real thing when the first time comes.
While new talent stands to benefit significantly from XR technology, Kommabhatla mentions that it can also help experienced energy professionals enhance their knowledge.
“New employees are not the only staff in the energy industry that benefit from this form of training,” he says. “Employees can also benefit immensely from tech-driven refresher courses. This is highly useful for instilling familiarity with new machinery or processes, or to roll out a new set of plans or guidelines.”
The key to successful implementation
Regardless of whether an organisation is looking to leverage XR to train new employees, supplement the skills of experienced workers or both, Kommabhatla points out how crucial it is for organisations and their technology partners to understand their needs intimately. To implement truly effective technical training driven by XR, there are some important steps to consider.
We conduct the process of building these training solutions alongside the customer in a completely agile manner
“The first important step we take when working with our energy customers is to understand their existing training processes, but most importantly we identify the gaps,” he says. “Once we have established these key factors, we map them against the customer’s desired outcomes in a tailored way. The next step is to apply our unique framework, with a goal of making training processes as interactive as possible to enhance effectiveness. We conduct the process of building these training solutions alongside the customer in a completely agile manner.”
This collaboration and agility contribute to making simulated environments as immersive, accurate and useful to new employees as possible. By creating a training environment that is both highly interactive and tailored to the specific requirements of the customer, organisations are more likely to see significant improvements in knowledge retention and overall effectiveness.
The need to train new and existing employees swiftly and effectively is paramount to operational success
Accuracy is also essential to high-quality virtual experiences, and Kommabhatla stresses the importance of scale. For trainees undergoing traditional onboarding processes and watching training videos on 2D screens, it is difficult to get a sense of the size of machinery, their components or the surrounding environment, which could significantly limit the learning process. Using XR technology, new staff members gain an important sense of context and relevance from within the one-to-one simulation, making it much easier to transfer their insights into real-world scenarios.
“Skills are always in high-demand, and the need to train new and existing employees swiftly and effectively is paramount to operational success,” Kommabhatla says.
While training is crucial for imparting skills and knowledge, the energy industry has no greater priority than safety. By leveraging innovative and immersive simulated solutions, companies protect new and existing employees while guaranteeing more effective knowledge retention. In the end, XR won’t just protect workers; it’ll insulate companies from the risk and expense associated with live environment training.
This article is a part of our Innovation Leaders in safety series. To view the report and further interviews and insights into safety solutions, visit our Innovation Leaders page here.