Virtual reality building site is a first for UK construction training Part 2

Virtual Construction
Virtual Construction

Follow up to our recent story:-

The training facility will recreate, in precise detail, an actual construction site using virtual reality. The three-dimensional computer simulation of the construction project is projected on to a 12-metre panoramic screen in the Simulation Centre. Trainees use a control stick to ‘walk round’ the site and view the construction work in close-up, down to individual nuts and bolts.

Trainees work in fully-equipped site cabins of the kind found on any building site. They are then presented with challenging site management scenarios – based on real-life situations – with site personnel, colleagues, and members of the public played by professional actors. Supervisors observe their behaviour via cameras and then work with trainees to give feedback and pinpoint areas for development.

“The simulated scenarios are all based on the kind of situation that site managers regularly face, such as having to lay off a member of staff, talk to an angry resident or reason with a subcontractor threatening to walk off the job,” says ACT-UK managing director Michiel Schrijver. “The depth and detail of the simulation means that the experience goes beyond mere role playing and allows trainees to test themselves fully in a safe, controlled environment. We find that people very quickly forget they are taking part in a simulation because they become so wrapped up in the experience.”

For leading construction company Balfour Beatty, one of the companies which is currently working with ACT-UK to develop courses that will be run at the new centre, it is the realism of the environment created by the simulation and the training scenarios that is one of the centre’s main attractions. “The situations typical of a site encourage ‘natural’ behaviours under realistic pressures which can be observed, fed back and commented on, with alternative ways of handling situations explained and even tried in second attempts at the scenario,” says Jeff Keer, group training and development manager for Balfour Beatty. He believes the centre could prove especially valuable for people who find it difficult to relate the experience of being on a training course to their normal working environment.

The centre has already sold nearly 800 course days to UK construction companies and training organisations. The centre’s potential to enable companies to develop and uncover the talent of their people is also attracting interest from other industries, including companies in the transport and building services sectors.”

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