LINX Cargo Care Group is using virtual reality (VR) training to prepare its workers for high-risk environments in a safe space. Australian Mining speaks to the company about how the technology has improved its training program.
As an organisation with 4000 employees across 70-plus sites in Australia and New Zealand, training staff at LINX Cargo Care Group can be time-consuming.
Since rolling out virtual reality (VR) training, however, the supply chain and logistics company has found that processes that once took days to complete have been cut to hours, in a more engaging environment.
LINX Cargo Care Group business development manager Neil David and systems and governance manager health safety and environment Michael Kemp say the innovative style of training has been effective with the company’s workforce.
Since procuring eight VR headsets, training has gone from a traditional paper-based environment to a lifelike scenario, giving workers the opportunity to contend with workplace dangers without being in any danger themselves.
“Through induction and onboarding, we’re able to expose people to those high-risk scenarios in a completely safe environment,” Kemp tells Australian Mining.
“It’s hard to explain no-go zones through documents and PowerPoint presentations, but when you feel like you’re actually on the site and immersed in the environment, it’s very easy to get that perception of the environment because people learn by doing.”
This method also ensures better memory retention, from being immersed in an actual environment rather than just reading an instruction manual, according to Kemp.
“Rather than needing eight people to go and sit on that equipment at different occasions, we can get all of them in the same room at the same time and train them together in the lunch room in one day.”
This is also advantageous when training for a position like a train driver, which requires hours of repetition at travelling one route before accreditation.
While VR training for accrediting train drivers isn’t a reality yet, LINX Cargo Care Group can see a future where train drivers will achieve this by using the technology.
The company is already rolling this method out for its stevedores, having set up a VR port environment that allows users to set the port up for a safe day of work, collecting mobile plans, equipment and moving trucks and trains to safe areas.
This is used for on-site assessments and data is automatically gathered, meaning supervisors can use this to provide feedback and lessons for any mistakes made.
“If we can use VR to understand equipment before it even comes to our port and how we load it, being able to share this knowledge between the two parties is a huge advantage,” Kemp says.
As David adds, VR training provides workers with an enormous safety advantage before getting on a real site.
He says the step-by-step machine operation is already a muscle memory reflex by then, giving operators the capacity to focus on what’s going on around them.
“Training with VR gives you more time to consider your environment, rather than what gear you’re in because you’re more relaxed about how you’re operating the piece of machinery,” David says.
“You’ve got your eyes up and looking around your environment much more.”
Having awareness of the environment and understanding potential risks is essential when working on mine sites, particularly for new employees.
It is well recognised that new employees are at a greater risk of being involved in incidents on site, according to Kemp.
Not only does this method prepare workers in a lifelike way, data and footage can be captured for LINX Cargo Care Group’s clients, meaning they are assured that their cargo is being taken care of.
“When you’re handling a customer’s cargo, be it mining equipment, steel or cars, to be able to show them how we handle their cargo and that we’re maintaining the quality, is a real advantage,” Kemp says.
As a leader in logistics and bringing technology into the sector, David presented on behalf of LINX Cargo Care Group at the 11th annual Western Australian Major Projects Conference this month.
David gave delegates insight to how innovation and safety are the keys to unlocking supply chain efficiency and using innovative tools, including VR to provide a safer logistics industry.
With more than 30 years in transport and logistics, including stints at Toll, Bis Industries and Sadleirs before joining LINX Cargo Care Group, David not only has experience across all aspects of business, but also deep knowledge of the industry and safety.
Part of the insight David offered included how safer logistics has a flow-on to the industries it supplies to, including mining.
“VR is a part of our innovation for providing a safer supply chain, but I also spoke about what we are doing with our assets to bring about safe outcomes,” he says.
“I spoke about sharing data between us, a supplier and our clients, and getting better commission outcomes by having a deep understanding of our clients.”
As David covered in his presentation, VR-based training is only the start for LINX Cargo Care Group.
“We’re getting a lot of questions from clients about what we’re doing with technology for mining equipment in the future,” he concludes.
“Machinery such as front-end loaders with adapted technology can detect people moving nearby and will alert the machine before it hits the person, that’s the sort of solution we are looking at.”
This article also appears in the March edition of Australian Mining.