8 Ways Simulations Enhance Training

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Training is essential to the continued success of any organization, but this is especially true when there are technical skills involved, and more so when you add an element of risk or hazard. So this urgency applies to most technician positions spanning a variety of industries – Manufacturing, Transportation, Energy and more.

Trying out the latest technologies as they hit the market just to keep pace with what’s trending is not a wise way to invest training one’s budget, but incorporating effective simulation-based technologies into your training mix is a no-brainer – and here are some reasons why:

1) Longevity. This applies not only to the training itself, but to retention. Let’s start with the former: How often should you update your training? It depends on a lot of factors, but as your industry changes, technological advances take place and/or your company grows, you’ll need to revisit the what, how and why of your training. What are you training – as in, what are technicians actually learning, and why are you focused on these specific tasks? Are other tasks more relevant?

And how this training is delivered brings us to the crux of the simulation argument – when training happens in a portable interactive environment, you can revise or entirely retool modules as needed and immediately upload the training to everyone requiring it. As most organizations are in a constant state of flux, due to technological advances (or at least it feels that way), having the ability to upload new simulations that can be easily pushed out worldwide is a game changer. The same people in charge of training still can be, but having simulations at the ready will help them do their job that much better.

Retention of the actual learning lasts much longer too. With technicians performing actions and interacting with the equipment in these simulations in ways that allow individualized exploration creates deep understanding – and this is something a classroom environment has never been able to replicate.

2) Portability. The training can happen anytime, anywhere, with technicians only requiring a portable device capable of running the software. This means the days of downtime for scheduled training to happen at one location are over. And it also means technicians can have simulated practice sessions at their fingertips whenever they need them. If your team has been considering using AV/VR technology, you must read this first.

3) Tailored to individual. The training offers higher retention rates and is portable, but equally important is the ability to tailor training to respond to the individual – to help each learner master whatever criteria at a pace that makes sense for them. And something that tracks where they’re tripping up and offers remediation to fill those gaps. For example in the simulation below, notice how at the end, the user is shown what defects he/she missed detecting. Every time the training is run, a new set of faults/issues are dynamically loaded.

4) Brevity. All of this, of course saves time – lots of it. Beyond the travel time and testing time that one no longer needs, the training itself can happen on an abbreviated timeline. The time it takes to initially learn a topic may remain the same (or not), but refreshers can look different with simulations, and time spent fixing costly equipment, or dealing with in-the-field errors after the fact, are exponentially lessened.

All of this offers other ancillary benefits, which feel anything but (ancillary), including:

5) Motivates learners – and learning. Technicians from a variety of industries and age ranges overwhelmingly enjoy learning via simulation. Gamification is a term that’s offered up in connection with simulated learning, but it’s often misunderstood – and just misrepresented. Making learning interesting, engaging and motivating learners to complete certain training tasks for rewards in a simulation could be considered “gamification,” but that doesn’t make it less valuable than offering one a certificate or points on a performance review for completing a traditional training. Our customer at Norfolk Southern said “an instructor observed a conductor training with the simulation before class even started!“.

Motivating learners isn’t a negative, it’s a positive as we intuitively know that making learning an enjoyable experience enhances long-term retention. The immediate feedback it offers is the key. It also increases the likelihood of having long-term employees!

6) Increases employee morale. Job satisfaction is so important, yet lacking in many organizations. We find that companies with high turnover often have poor training protocols in place. When technicians aren’t adequately trained and make regrettable mistakes as a result, it’s hard to feel good about what you do – and about where you’re working. Employee morale matters, and your training can be the make or break ingredient in that recipe. Supplementing your training with offerings that increase technicians’ comfort level are well worth the effort.

7) Situational awareness. After technicians have trained in a simulated environment, they’re more prepared to react to situations – even those they may never encounter. A technician can’t step inside an airplane engine as it’s running and see what goes wrong as it happens – or at least they can’t in real life. In a simulation, they can step inside and see it as it happens and be able to identify many operational malfunctions that would be impossible to witness (short of breaking equipment) otherwise.

Walking through a simulated environment gives technicians confidence and understanding they would be hard pressed to achieve short of spending many years in the field – and even then, it’s unlikely they’d encounter every potential scenario simulations could offer. Either way, it’s a good enhancement to current training, as operators can revisit and rethink a variety of scenarios and feel supremely prepared for whatever scenario they find themselves in.

And then there are emergencies to consider . . .

8) Emergency preparedness. Recreating actual emergencies in real life is costly, if not impossible, for many industries – and reading about a thing versus experiencing it is very different. As a byproduct of the situational awareness simulated training offers, the potential for being prepared in case of an emergency increases significantly as well. No amount of training, simulated or otherwise, can account for the adrenaline rush happening in the moment, but the ability to practice putting out a fire many times over, in addition to the actual physical training offered, makes one’s chances of survival significantly higher. And having everyone go home at the end of each shift is priceless.

And it also saves money – lots of it. But that’s a post for another day!

We’d love to tell you more, about all of, though – so please drop us a note if you have any questions or would like a demo!