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VIRTUAL REALITY OPENS NEW DOORS FOR ENGINEERING TRAINING
Friday, 02 September 2022
Digital technologies are creating various new opportunities in the learning environment, and virtual reality is proving its value in the engineering courses at the Murray & Roberts Cementation Training Academy (MRTA).
According to Tony Pretorius, education, training and development (ETD) executive at Murray & Roberts Cementation, the MRTA is probably leading the way in this respect.
“We are pioneering the use of VR to split circuits in trackless mining machinery allowing our engineering learners to read schematics and identify components,” says Pretorius. “They can also use the VR platform to identify the flow of hydraulics and perform fault diagnosis.”
Looking at a real machine, he notes that it is difficult for learners to physically see the components making up the different circuits – such as the steering and brakes circuit and the drilling and drivetrain circuit. In the VR space, these circuits can be split from each other – with the schematic represented on the actual equipment.
“By hovering over a particular component on your machine, the VR platform will highlight that component on the schematic – allowing the learner to see a complex schematic on the machine itself,” he says. “This makes it much easier for learners to understand what they are looking at, as a valve on a schematic looks very different to a real valve, for instance.”
This greatly improves the level of comprehension, creating a firmer foundation for the learning journey into the maintenance of mechanised equipment, he says. Already, there have been better results from the learners moving into the practical workshop phase of the course.
“This unique approach allows us to take the learner onto a machine with the VR tools, so they can quickly grasp the schematic and apply this understanding in our engineering training workshop,” he says. “This prepares learners much more effectively for our service departments, which focus on mechanised trackless equipment.”
After completing this phase of their training, the learners move into Murray & Roberts Cementation’s rebuild workshops to gain further workplace integrated experience as they progress toward applied competence. Pretorius notes that various original equipment manufacturers are involved at this stage to facilitate specific hi-tech training on their machinery.