These past weeks COVID-19 has changed the way we go about our daily work.
Routines have been shattered into a range of challenges from moderate inconveniences to severe work stoppages with no end in sight. The economic and relational consequences to both companies and the customers they serve has been nothing short of disaster. But even during these troublesome times, work has remained largely unchanged for Jason Whitman. Whitman is a training instructor at Rolls-Royce. Under normal circumstances he would go to work at their Regional Customer Training Center located in Indianapolis, IN.
Since the outbreak, obviously such is not the case, but that’s really the only difference. The nine-year Rolls-Royce employee works directly with Business Aviation customers to facilitate in-person maintenance training for Rolls-Royce industry-leading aircraft engines.
“We’ve all been working from home and other than hosting a few webinars no one has been able to conduct any classes. Even if we wanted to, the customers can’t fly in right now. This pandemic totally put a stop to our normal training,” Whitman said.
Normally, customers have traveled to Whitman or he would travel to them in order to have classes. Obviously in the current COVID-19 landscape, companies are limiting travel of all personnel. Without a different way of doing things, Whitman and his customers would have to cease all training until restrictions were lifted.
Developed by VisionThree (V3, Indianapolis, IN), the V3CORE Training Platform is a Virtual Reality (VR) training solution that companies like Rolls-Royce are using to continue supporting their customers throughout the challenges of COVID-19. While connected to the internet, users of the software can occupy the same virtual environment, in Whitman’s case, an aircraft hangar, regardless of their real-world location. Real training can occur while keeping all parties safely socially distanced.
VisionThree and Rolls-Royce have an enduring relationship spanning over a decade.
The connection has long-standing roots in marketing and customer engagement interactive development prior to the new training-based chapter. The two companies worked closely to visualize, create, and build training content to be used within the platform. The current curriculum being used by Whitman pertains to the BR725 engine that powers the luxurious and long-ranged Gulfstream G650 business jet. Innovation, like VR training, has always been synonymous with Rolls-Royce, especially when considering other current initiatives like their IntelligentEngine Vision and Digital Academy.
The VR class Whitman teaches is a familiarization course that takes place over a two-day period where the majority of activity happens in VR. All individuals are located in different locations. “The networking capability makes an instructor-led class possible. If there were lag or latency, it wouldn’t work. You wouldn’t know when you’re in VR that they’re not actually standing right next to you.” 4-5 days prior to the training class, he ships a robust VR-ready laptop and associated VR hardware (in this case the Oculus Rift S) to his customers’ locations.
The networking capability of the platform is truly revolutionary and no doubt one of the key differentiators of the solution. After all, by using that capability, Rolls-Royce is supporting their customer during one of the most challenging times in recent history. And their competitors are forced to watch from the sidelines.
Highly-immersive environments provide real-world feel without the consequences and risk. Complex CAD models (like aircraft engines) are converted and optimized so they can be exploded and broken down to their simplest of components.
Real-time cross-section tools and procedure-based learning add to the overall quality of training that instructors, like Whitman, can bring to his students – an audience that learns best through experience.
“We start off going over the general characteristics, high-level features, and physical architecture of the engine, then we dive deeper into the engine’s systems and operation.” Whitman’s familiarization class has a broad audience from the most-experienced engine technicians to flight crew and even company execs. Using the VR content, he can clearly demonstrate the effects that certain operational conditions can have for each member of that diverse audience. That really speaks well of the versatile curriculum that Rolls-Royce and V3 have built.
Whitman sees a stark difference between traditional methods and the VR-based approach. “Before we would have to rely on 2D drawings and dry-erase boards. It’s almost impossible to actually view the complexity inside the engine using a 2D drawing. One of the most useful features is to be able to look inside and de-construct the engine to explain how systems are integrated into the operation of the engine itself.”
It’s also important to note that, historically, there have been times when Whitman wouldn’t have access to a physical engine to supplement his class. To no one’s discredit, there are simply massive logistics associated with shipping an actual aircraft engine. Not only is an engine part of every VR training session, but one of the learning sections involves the engine mounted on a 3D model of the actual aircraft – which is never possible due to how much downtime costs for an aircraft of such worth. Students of the class have commented how true-to-life the view is from engine height when standing on the maintenance platform next to the impressive G650.
This type of experience helps students better prepare for a real-world scenario they will inevitably encounter. That is one of the key benefits of this type of training. Whitman explains, “For new technicians of this engine to be able to walk through a scheduled maintenance task before they get to the (real) engine is absolutely priceless!”
Rolls-Royce is known industry-wide for their innovation. Being able to train in the face of a global pandemic certainly requires that. But it’s more. It’s not only training when the rest of the world is at a standstill, but simultaneously increasing the quality and fidelity of that training experience. The results are improved service to the Rolls-Royce customers and superior maintenance to their engines in the field… Everybody Wins!
Now that’s a phrase not often heard during the time of COVID-19. Rolls-Royce and V3CORE Training are making it possible and re-defining reality with Virtual Reality.
We hope you and your families are staying safe during this time. If you’d like to learn more, please contact us today for a virtual demonstration and see how your company or organization might benefit from integration of V3CORE Training.
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