⭐ How the industrial metaverse will transform manufacturing
Lincoln Electric Holdings Inc. is one of the world’s largest makers of welding equipment, with more than 42 manufacturing locations in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America — and its business depends on making sure enough welders are certified to use its equipment. For that reason, it felt it needed a school to train workers — but traditional training was slow, expensive and cumbersome. So it turned to technologies more often associated with consumer gaming: virtual reality and the metaverse. Now, trainees don VR headsets to do virtual welds, and they get immediate feedback in an immersive environment on how straight their pipe or sheet metal welds are. If they mess up, they can simply reset the virtual system instantly and keep getting better, and they don’t have to waste materials in repeated attempts. Once they’ve learned to do it right, they apply those skills in actual welding using Lincoln’s gear. The result: Lincoln Electric discovered that it could train welders in 23% less time. And more skilled welders means a larger potential market for its welding gear. “Virtual reality can reduce time while increasing the proficiency of training programs,” Randal Kenworthy, senior partner at technology consulting firm West Monroe, which has Lincoln as a client, told SiliconANGLE.
In order to see the benefits of training in the metaverse, Lincoln Electric and Iowa State University compared two groups, one that did entirely traditional hands-on training and one that did half hands-on and half VR welding. The results showed that welders who did the VR training had significantly higher levels of learning and team interaction, with a 41.6% increase in overall certification over the traditional group. And besides the 23% less time spent in overall training than the traditional group, using VR also greatly reduced training costs by $243 per student, because they could start over each time without wasting materials or losing time reassembling.
In the past four years, VR training has become even more prevalent across manufacturing — for example in automotive and aviation, where workers repeat rote steps on factory floors or even interact with robots. BMW uses VR to train multiple employees at once. Volkswagen AG formed a global initiative with 10,000 employees. Aviation manufacturing giant The Boeing Co. cut training time by 75% with VR. Aeronautics companies also use metaverse technologies to train pilots in the air, spurred by a pilot shortage that began with the pandemic. Loft Dynamics AG has been using VR simulators to train helicopter operators in the U.S., cutting air-time training by as much as 60%.