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Virtual reality revs up workplace learning

Fulton Hogan is pioneering new ways to harness Virtual Reality technology to enable teams to practise new skills in a more realistic manner – and learn from mistakes without compromising safety.

VR technology minimises the risks of training in a ‘live’ situation while giving employees plenty of hands-on experience.

A finalist at the 2017 New Zealand Innovation Awards, Fulton Hogan’s Virtual Reality Training for its ‘Boil Out’ procedure is helping the company upskill its people in a protected training environment. This is also the first time VR has been used in New Zealand’s construction industry.

The Boil Out procedure involves decontaminating bitumen sprayers and tankers if water has been present. The unintended mixing of water and bitumen is a common cause of accidents associated with the use of hot bitumen. If a serious boil over is not handled properly, bitumen can be sprayed with considerable force over a wide area.

Using the VR Boil Out app, which was developed together with Corvecto, Fulton Hogan’s VR training gives employees the ability to virtually perform the high-risk Boil Out procedure step-by-step, and experience the harmful consequences of any mistakes made – all while in a safe environment.

Fulton Hogan Innovation Manager Chloe Smith says: “You actually feel like you are standing on top of the tank, looking down from a height. Along with this the sound effects are so realistic you really do feel like you are physically present in the scenario.”

When mistakes are made, employees are virtually transported to a room where a screen outlines the errors they made and the steps they should have taken. They are then able to repeat the task and improve their performance.

The company is exploring the use of VR training in other similar operational areas.