Augmented and virtual reality training: The next wave of digital disruption

A new paradigm for training cuts time and costs. Weld Australia explains.

In the digital era, disruptive technologies have started to play a key role in education
and training. Increasingly, old-school techniques are being complemented by innovative methods that rely on augmented and virtual reality systems.

Augmented and virtual reality training systems are student-focussed, allowing individual students to progress at their own pace. Welding apprentices learn and understand welding procedures and techniques through a more interactive training method, gaining hands-on experience in a controlled, safe environment. With zero risks involved, apprentices can respond to realistic scenarios without pressure or fear of injury. Augmented and virtual reality training is enabling future welders to acquire the skills and the self- confidence they need before moving into real-world workshops.

Augmented and virtual reality training technologies are proven to be efficient and environmentally sustainable, offering significantly reduced CO2 emissions when compared to traditional welding training and slashing consumable usage. These systems allow training centres and industry to save costs and time while training professional welders.

In a bid to bring this disruptive new training method and technology to the masses, Weld Australia has partnered with both Seabery and The Lincoln Electric Company to introduce their augmented and virtual reality welding training systems into Australia.

This disruptive training technology is a key feature of Weld Australia’s national network of Advancer Welder Training Centres.

The purpose of the Advanced Welder Training Centres is to quickly qualify welders to the only industry Standard in the world that is accepted in both Europe and America: ISO 9606-1 Qualification testing of welders – Fusion welding. ISO 9606-1 is the minimum requirement for working on rolling stock, defence, and infrastructure projects. This will ensure a supply of capable welders to deliver the Federal government’s $90 billion Naval Shipbuilding Program.

To date, Weld Australia has secured over $6 million in State and Federal Government funding for the establishment of six Advanced Welder Training Centres, located at: the TAFE SA Regency Campus in Adelaide; the Tasmanian Minerals and Energy Council Centre of Excellence in South Burnie; Box Hill TAFE; Bendigo Kangan Institute of TAFE and Federation TAFE in Ballarat in Victoria; SkillsTech Acacia Ridge; and Caboolture TAFE Campus in Queensland.

Weld Australia intends to establish several more Advanced Welder Training Centres around Australia to support defence prime contractors and SMEs looking to join the global supply chains of these prime contractors.

Soldamatic augmented reality training
Distributed in Australia by Weld Australia, Seabery’s Soldamatic is the first augmented reality welding educational technology solution in the world.

According to Antonio Fernández, Seabery’s international business development manager, the technology overcomes issues across industries.

“We started applying augmented reality to welding because welding is used across so many industrial sectors, from oil and gas and infrastructure, through to the automotive and energy industries. And yet, there is an enormous shortage of skilled welders worldwide, in both emerging economies, as well as developed nations such as America, where more than 300,000 new welders will be required by 2020.

“Soldamatic enables training institutions, governments, and welding associations to attract young people to industrial careers to close this ever- increasing gap between the market demand for qualified welders, and the available workforce,” said Fernández.

Since its inception in 2014, over 1,500 Soldamatic units have been sold in more than 40 countries. The disruptive technology has been used in training by some of the world’s largest manufacturers, including Siemens, John Deere, and Volkswagen, in addition to uptake by both international educational institutions and government bodies.

This rapid, widespread adoption of the technology is not surprising, given the results that the Soldamatic system has already achieved, particularly in terms of reducing training time and costs.

Soldamatic conducted tests comparing their augmented reality technology to traditional welding training. The results demonstrated that 34 per cent more welders were certified in 56 per cent less time, saving up to 68 per cent on the overall cost of welder training. In addition, Soldamatic increases the time on arc by three to five times, and enables training institutes to educate four times more students while maintaining their existing lab infrastructure.

According to Geoff Crittenden, CEO, Weld Australia, the program offers significant savings.

“This technology is three times cheaper, faster, and more effective when compared to traditional training methods. By using this technology,
we will not only be able to upskill existing welders, but also train transitional workers and apprentices to work on rolling stock, defence, and infrastructure projects.

“Without a doubt, the successful implementation of this innovative training initiative will revolutionise welder training in Australia. It will raise the standard of welder education in Australia exponentially, putting our welder training on par with the best in Europe and America,” said Crittenden.

Workforce development training needs to educate tomorrow’s employees and help today’s workers improve upon their existing skill set. The result – a better trained, more knowledgeable worker at all phases of the employment cycle. This is particularly true when it comes to educating workers in skilled trades such as welding. Incorporating disruptive new training technologies designed to narrow the skills gap helps prepare graduates for real- world work.

For more information, contact Weld Australia on 02 8748 0100 or visit www.weldaustralia.com.au.