They’ve Got The Power, Now UK Power Networks Are Looking To VR To Train Staff Safely

A topic we often touch on during the week at VRFocus is that of immersive technology’s role in the area of education and training. Whether it’s virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) or even mixed reality (MR) for so long as the technology is in use it will inevitably be drawn to providing some form of training for people.

UK Power NetworksThe reasons why are pretty obvious:

  • Immersive technology allows for training anywhere at any time.
  • Immersive technology allows for greater use of hypothetical scenarios and allows for better simulation of issues.
  • It is cheaper, and easier to provide access to trainees.
  • It eliminates situations where training involves a degree of danger.

The latest to see the benefit of this, specifically in the latter part, is the UK’s biggest distributor of electricity, UK Power Networks. The firm is responsible for maintaining various infrastructure elements of the grid across the east and south-east of England. For example, overhead lines, underground cables and even substations. UK Power Networks has turned to VR as a way to exercise safer training through several virtual training sessions.  Ensuring workers are up to speed on current best practices without putting them in harm’s way.

Strike-One Media has created five VR scenarios ion partnership with the firm and these have been distributed across UK Power Networks’ training centres on the topics of:

  • Working on overhead power lines at height and using a hoist.
  • Identifying hazards on work sites.
  • Identifying hazards in office environments.
  • Inside an electricity substation.
  • Being inside a substation if the fire suppressant system operates.

“This is new technology for us as a company, but already the feedback from delegates and training staff has been very positive.” Commented UK Power Networks Training Centre Manager Colin Davey. “The intention was to provide a new innovative way of training to enhance the service and experience we already provide. We have five films now and it is possible we could look at doing more. We are also exploring how this technology could be used for public safety events and customer service training and we’ve started looking at even more interactive VR.”

Electricity / Power CablesVR’s ability to show so much better situations was also noted. “It’s important to show staff the risks inherent in certain tasks or situations rather than just simply tell them about because that way they learn much more quickly and it’s exciting that we can do this through the use of Virtual Reality.  The overhead line film will be useful at recruitment fairs, the substation entry one is ideal for apprentices while the substation fire suppressant system film warns of the fatal consequences of using it incorrectly so is a vital refresher for all relevant teams.”

Strike-One Media Editorial Director Steve Partner added, “This VR project has been an exciting one, with each of the five films presenting their own challenges. We’ve had to build a robot to provide a smooth passage through an office and warehouse, develop a head-cam to help with delivering an insight into a substation and create housing to protect the filming equipment in a switch room.

“Overcoming these hurdles was all part of the journey and overall we’re delighted with the outcome of the films. We remain convinced the unique and immersive experience VR provides will prove an extremely powerful training tool for UK Power Networks.”

VRFocus will bring you more news of how VR is being used in industry very soon. Be sure to check back daily for all the latest across every field.