earning in New Dimensions

The Care Chemical Academy of the chemical company BASF, has introduced Augmented Reality software from Holo-Light as well as Microsoft’s HoloLens AR-glasses to simplify and improve training in production. 

Employees in production at BASF must complete a compulsory annual exercise in accordance with the German Water Resources Act, to protect the environment. To make the training more engaging, BASF looked into more innovative ways to complete mandatory training as it's a well known fact that people learn better when what they are doing is enjoyable. Head of BASF’s Care Chemicals Academy, Renate Esswein, states:

“We want to get employees excited about new technologies and communicate safety-related aspects in an innovative way”.

Augmented Reality Training at BASF
Source: BASF SE

Practical Exercises in Augmented Reality

Esswein went on to explain, 

“those who are told or shown something often believe that they have already mastered it. In practice, however, the process is usually more complicated.”

When people are given the chance to teach themselves something, the transfer of learning is much greater when doing it on your own, and what you have learned is memorized better. 

The new AR training combines essential information with the engaging interactiveness of AR in a playful way with staff having to try out the virtual pipeline model step by step for themselves and lend a hand in practice. 

Staff can experience practical exercises on a partial model, which is turned into a complete pipeline system by the AR Software ARES through the HoloLens data glasses. Another feature of the AR training is the ability to select the  “AirTap” input gesture, which has three simple voice commands to control the simulation: “Start”, “Yes” and “Next”. The AR software guides staff through the training with 3D animations and speaker audio, so that each member of staff can complete the training at their own pace.

Source: BASF SE

AR Training Prevents Errors

Specialist at the Care Chemicals Academy, Mai Linh Ong, explained:

“The technical content, the didactic structure and the design of the training course are provided by us, while we obtain the technical implementation from external sources,” 

Ong developed the storyboard for the training course alongside the specialist colleagues from the Service Center Suppression, consultations, the software developers of Holo-Light as well as end-users, to create the step by step training that staff can experience through AR glasses and hear through the integrated loudspeakers. During development, additions or specifications were made again and again. “This is a repetitive, iterative process in order to develop the training further in an agile way”, emphasizes Ong.

Featured in the AR training is the consequences of incorrect actions, for example, what happens if the product runs out if the drip tray is not positioned correctly, or what happens if, despite mandatory testing, there is still a residual product in the pipe system and the screw on the side away from the body is not opened first. “These things can be presented virtually without putting the participants in real danger,” says Esswein. In the AR training experience, staff are able to simply try again until the process is complete. Incorporating gamification elements into the training allows the training content to be relayed in a playful manner, although it should not be confused with a game, it is still entertaining.  

Source: BASF SE

New Training Standard at BASF 

Esswein confirmed that “The new training is very well received,” after a short period of adjusting to the new system, staff are getting on well with many amazed at how advanced the technology already is. The training AR modules are already being expanded to cover a wider range of training exercises due to its success.

Esswein and Ong both assume that AR scenarios will play an increasingly important role in the corporate environment in the future. Ong stated: “It was a great advantage to test the new technology early on. It gives us the time to deal with the new possibilities without pressure”. The AR training courses created under the Water Resources Act in the new format with the HoloLens are officially recognised as the new training standard at BASF.

What began as a pilot in the Care Chemicals division is currently being rolled out throughout the Ludwigshafen site and has potential to be extended to sites outside Germany. “This way we can ensure the quality of training and introduce global standards,” Mai Linh Ong concludes.

Aug 7, 2020
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