In order to make virtual training accessible to as many employees as possible in the future, a team of five persons from different business areas has now designed a Virtual Reality Software Development Kit (SDK) – a kind of construction set for creating virtual-reality training courses. In the future, trainers with IT experience will also be able to use this kit to independently create VR training courses without being skilled programmers. Various training sequences can be combined with the use of about 20 standard process steps such as “Remove component from container,” “Tighten screws” or “Install part in the vehicle.” Project manager Mirko Göres from Audi Brand Logistics explained, “With the help of easy-to-use menu navigation, the trainer will be able to select the desired work steps and combine them.” It is no longer necessary to work directly in the program code.
Apprentices from the Ingolstadt plant’s logistics department have recently started using this virtual modular principle to learn the so-called “pick-by-light” process at the training center. When picking components, a light signal shows the employee the required articles and their quantity directly at the respective removal point. For the new VR training, a typical workstation was virtually reproduced in great detail. With the help of particularly high-resolution 3D glasses and with two controllers in their hands, a trainee can move freely in the virtual workstation and can practice various work routines on the basis of various work orders.
Over the past eight months, the project team has used the modular system to create 20 different training courses in several languages for the Audi plants in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm. Compared to previous VR training courses, development is now much faster and more cost-effective. With the modular system, practice programs can be put together for all operative and process-oriented work routines. This means it can be used not only in logistics, but also in service training or in production for example.
“Virtual-reality training is very popular with our employees,” said trainer Florian Kunz from the training center in Ingolstadt. “The gamification approach is fun, so it also improves the learning progress. If a trainee performs the tasks correctly, he or she receives points. In this way, the trainee learns the way through different levels, comparable to a video game.” With each level, the degree of difficulty increases. At the beginning, all work steps are moderated, but gradually the program gives fewer hints. In the final run, the employee must complete all tasks without any help. This increases motivation and boosts the trainees’ ambition.
The modular solution was developed through cooperation between Audi brand logistics, sales, IT, the training center and the Audi Academy. By the end of the year, the SDK will be integrated into Volkswagen’s Group-wide VR platform, the “Digital Reality Hub.” In the future, trainers from other Group brands will also be able to access the software kit. At the same time, the application is to be further expanded and made even more user-friendly in the future in cooperation with the Munich start-up company Innoactive.