VR platform training generating solid interest says ALS Safety
ALS Safety Ltd has taken delivery of a new virtual reality aerial platform training simulator, one of just six in Europe.The simulator combines scissor lift and aerial boom lift modules to provide comprehensive highly-immersive aerial operator skills training in a fully-controlled environment.
ALS Safety Managing Director Darren Verschuren said: “The quality of the VR simulations is impressive and the operational detail, in terms of how a platform moves and behaves, is very realistic.
“ALS Safety is keen to stay at the forefront of powered access training technology, and this innovation will help us do that, both in terms of promoting working at height safety and productivity.
“VR will add exciting new options to the training we can offer and is already generating a lot of interest from our clients. As such, we believe VR has a strong future in working at height training.”
Innovative addition to comprehensive industry training
ALS Safety is the training division of Riwal UK, the powered access hire and sales specialist.
It is now offering VR aerial platform training to clients across the UK, alongside its comprehensive range of conventional IPAF, PASMA, CSCS courses and other industry-recognised training.
VR simulator training is used extensively in other industries, notably aviation. This is the first time such advanced technology has been used in aerial platform training.
Attention to detail makes for realistic training scenarios
The attention to realistic detail is what makes this latest generation of simulator stand out. The operator gets into a normal platform ‘cage’ wearing VR goggles and headphones.
Platform controls are identical the ones he or she would be using at height. The simulator creates full and very authentic sensations of movement, direction and height, including realistic bumps and even a sensation of swaying in the wind.
The simulator has 18 scissor lift training modules, and 16 boom lift modules with scenarios that include flat and rough terrain.
It allows operators to test both their skills and the performance of the VR platforms to the limit, even in potentially-hazardous conditions, without compromising personal safety.
Detailed feedback is provided about the operator’s performance, showing weakness and strengths.
Providing access to emerging training tools
To achieve International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) accreditation, operatives must still complete training on real machines. But IPAF is consulting worldwide on use of emerging tools, including VR.
Darren Verschuren said: “We will be pleased to share our experience of using VR training with IPAF to help develop use of the technology across powered access industry.
“There is evidence that VR enhances engagement in training, which must be a good thing. It is particularly appealing to younger people, the Millennials, who have grown up with computer gaming technology.
“The training scenarios are appropriate for beginners and experienced operators to allow them to take their skills to the next level. Just as in the aviation industry, the simulator enables operators working at height to practise tasks and develop skills and muscle memory without exposure to any risk.
“VR is also ideal for training operators how to work under power lines, or at steep inclines. They become extremely aware of their environment and learn the safest way to manage tasks.”
ALS still exploring the VR simulator’s full potential
The aerial platform training simulator has been developed by Serious Labs, a Canadian company that specialises in developing VR simulators for military and civilian purposes.
ALS Safety team is still exploring the full potential of the simulator. It could be used in different ways, from running training courses at the ALS Safety training centre, to hiring it out to clients to deliver bespoke onsite training ahead of special projects.
Darren Verschuren said: “Although we will always provide physical training, this is an incredible training tool. No-one ever comes out of the simulator without saying: ‘This is amazing!’”