Mönchengladbach, September 20, 2018

ALUMINIUM 2018: Experience “the new way of learning” using virtual technology

Before the end of this year, SMS TECademy will open the doors to its first digital classroom in Germany. There, SMS group customers will be able to experience a whole new, interactive way of learning.

Thanks to virtual and augmented reality applications, training participants benefit from a better learning effect since for example complex maintenance work can be experienced with a high degree of immersion. The simulated environment almost looks and feels like the real workplace. Trainings on a virtual model do not interfere with the real plant’s production schedule and thus can be performed at any time. Furthermore, the training participants do not have to fear any risk of errors or damage.

Karsten Weiss, Head of the SMS TECademy for the SMS group Technical Service, will present this new way of learning to the visitors of the ALUMINIUM 2018 trade fair.

In the run-up to the trade fair, we met him in his Hilchenbach office to talk about the new training possibilities and the trade fair exhibition.

Please briefly explain your tasks at SMS group.

At SMS group, I am responsible for the SMS TECademy in the Technical Service business unit. TECademy (TEChnological Academy) is an international customer training academy. In addition to operator trainings for new plants, we offer a broad range of specific trainings on selected dates dealing with topics from technology, maintenance and plant engineering as well as e-learning courses. Individual trainings tailor-made specifically to suit to our customer's requirements complete our service portfolio.

Using virtual and augmented reality, we now want to make our customer trainings even more interactive.

At the SMS group booth, you will be welcoming visitors at the “VR/AR hydraulic pump”. What can the customers expect there?

I want to make our customers more familiar with the concept of augmented reality. For this purpose, we have special AR glasses at our booth which can be tested. The image seen by the person wearing the AR glasses is simultaneously shown on a big screen so that the audience is able to experience the process as well. Via the AR glasses, the person wearing them receives smart information displayed directly in his or her field of vision, relating to the exhibited hydraulic pump, while the person is still able to see the real pump. Then various scenarios can be acted out, such as dismantling and assembling the pump in individual steps. Furthermore, an exploded illustration with dynamic parts can be looked at in detail, and the person wearing the AR glasses is given a large number of explanations on the functioning of the pump which cannot be seen from simple drawings or when the exhibited pump is covered by a housing .

What do you think is the best part of your product and what are its benefits for the customer?

Using the AR/VR technology, the participants of our training courses will experience a computer-aided enhancement of their perception of reality.  In this way, training courses can be created and performed much more efficiently. Contents can be derived from 3D plant drawings and provided with the respective kinematics. This is a hands-free technology, so that the hands can for example be used for assembly actions (such as tightening screws). In this way, an entire maintenance process can be acted out in an AR training environment without having to access the real plant, which often is not possible anyway due to ongoing production operations.

Another advantage is that the glasses cannot only be used in our digital classroom, but also at the customer’s premises. Training participants from different disciplines (e.g. mechanical engineering, E&A, process engineering) will be able to understand the respective “other” disciplines and their tasks more easily. Furthermore, being a “method device”, the glasses can be flexibly extended to integrate new content.

We are delighted to welcome our customers to the first trainings using the AR glasses and other digital media (VR, tablets) very soon.