VIRTUAL TRAINING: virtual reality as a training tool

Over recent years, virtual reality technology has experienced great progress in the entertainment sector in an attempt to place users at the centre of the action and to ensure they experience more realistic feelings. 

Within the area of occupational risk prevention, especially in terms of training, this progress often enable us to reproduce real situations in which the user can train in jobs and even experience the consequences of an accident in the workplace when the defined preventive measures are not taken, all in a controlled and complete safe environment. Virtual reality is becoming a chance to improve processes and reduce accidents at work. 

What is Virtual Training?

Designed within this context is Virtual training, an application that makes user training in substation operations easier, interacting with switching devices in an attractive, simple and safe manner. First Comillas substation has been virtualised so that users can recreate operations in this facility. Every detail has been covered: installations, switchgear and equipment, access roads, switching elements, etc. What is more, users can access the interaction procedures with the control centre, one of the essential parts of grid operations. 

Virtual Training can be used in two ways. In the first, an avatar guides you through the different switching operations in order to train you in them, warning of each error and not allowing you to progress until the correct choice is made at each stage. In the second, assessment mode, users must perform the switching operations themselves, with a report at the end indicating the correct action taken and the areas where learning should be reinforced. 

Virtual Training allows for interaction with the application in two different ways. The most conventional means that training is possible from a computer with an internet connection, similar to interactive training games. The second possibility, the most attractive to users, consists of full immersion by way of virtual reality devices (glasses, controls and sensors). This possibility is available in the training classroom in Candina, Santander, and provides a very similar experience to real operations, with the advantage of not being exposed to any risk. 

Benefits of Virtual Training

Virtual Training helps train new operators and helps with regular ongoing training, ensuring safe switching operations and the basic operations involved in powering down the installation in line with safety requirements, paying particular attention to the 5 Golden Rules and correct use of the protective equipment. 

Teamwork has been required to develop the tool, with the participation of technicians and Substation operating specialists, analysing and debugging the different operating cases, including human and equipment faults, to include all the situations that may arise in real life. 

In short, Virtual Training will allow for safe initial contact with the switching operations and ongoing training for operators, with a similar philosophy and functioning to a “flight simulator for pilots”. 

With Virtual Training, Viesgo enhances its support for new technologies, virtual reality, improved training for its employees and, therefore, help reduce the number of incidents associated to this activity. 

Authors: Rafael Mínguez Matorras and José Ángel Padilla. (With the contribution of César González Blanco)