The most obvious safety features of a lift truck are physical features of the truck, like its horn, lights, or even how its cab, mast and seating are designed to maximize visibility. Few of us think of something digital like virtual reality (VR) technology as having a safety benefit.
However, some lift truck providers are using VR as the basis for VR training systems and software modules that a DC can leverage to improve the safety habits of operators. VR education can help onboard new operators quickly, though it also may be used to correct bad habits or ensure operators with incidents get extra training specific to the incident, says Jack Kaumo, director of iWarehouse Technology Solutions for The Raymond Corp.
VR education for lift trucks is more than a set of static video lessons. It uses VR goggles that can detect where the person undergoing the training is looking, and it can connect right into the control system of an actual lift truck, so the operators are engaging real truck controls for the VR session. In short, it’s a virtual environment that replicates the physical world of the warehouse, with a digital record of what was done right (or wrong) during each session.
“It feels like you are in the actual environment,” says Kaumo. “When you press forward to make a truck move forward in VR, it’s going to travel at the exact same speed you would be going if you were actually driving the truck, and the instructor can see the speed on the display of the truck.
To use the solution, users can simply plug the VR gear into the computer control panel of an actual truck. This is a good option for DCs that want to keep all their lift trucks free for operations.
Last, but perhaps not least, if a DC operation struggles with turnover, VR education can be a way to appeal to younger, tech savvy people. “For many people entering the workforce who like gaming and virtual reality at home, being able to learn how to do their jobs in that same type of environment is going to appeal to them,” says Kaumo. “It’s been a selling point for VR education for some of our customers.”