A consistent problem with training courses is that trainees spend a lot of time inactive, or watching demonstrations. Truck maker Iveco Ford has invested £500,000 in a virtual reality training program which could mark the end of this `watch and learn’ style.
The technology, taken from the aerospace and military markets, has been implemented across Iveco’s European network.
Dealer technicians use double-screen computers which simulate a series of engine faults for diagnoses. The faults are programmed into the system by the trainer, who sits at a similar computer monitoring the technicians’ work.
`We have previously used either vehicle or traditional simulator board methods,’ says John Adams, Iveco training school manager. `The problem was getting people in and around a vehicle or a simulator board.’
Each step of the diagnostic process is recorded, allowing the trainer to run through the work again. Trainees can also be given different faults with varying diagnoses at the same time.
`Once delegates understand the theory and have applied it to that vehicle then they can go on to the practical work,’ he says. `It doesn’t take the place of the theory or the practical work on the vehicle.’
So far 80 out of Iveco’s 200 UK technical staff have been on courses. The system only covers one Iveco engine, the Cursor 8, but Iveco plans to bring in programmes for a new range of engines later this year.
Cost savings from using the new method have yet to emerge, as the programme is just a couple of months old, but Adams says it has given staff more confidence.
`The main advantage has been the time we can allow individuals to practice diagnoses,’ he says. `We also find they are more comfortable with the procedure. Before, doing a diagnosis in front of the group put pressure on people which they wouldn’t have on the job.’
Iveco’s parent company, Ford, has no plans to implement virtual reality training yet. However, given the benefits it already appears to be bringing at Iveco, it may not be long before it does.