How can you train people to paint aircraft in a way that eliminates waste, reduces costs and does away with unnecessary shipping? You move the spray booth into the virtual classroom.
Our Aerospace Coatings business has launched a new innovation in training by investing in virtual reality (VR) technology which mimics a customer’s production environment.
The VR headset immerses the trainee in a virtual paint booth, complete with everything from aircraft parts to the production floor itself. The system can be programmed with various paint specifications, such as the thickness of the coating required. So as the operator uses the spray gun, they can see whether too much or too little paint is being used and look for inconsistencies in the way the coating is being applied.
The system – developed with technology specialists Virtual Paint Products – has been successfully trialed at our US training center in Troy, Michigan, while several portable units have since been designed for use at customer premises. It means training can now be offered in a significantly more sustainable and efficient way than previously possible.
“Typically, when a customer asks for training, we have to provide significant quantities of paint, much of which is wasted,” explains Matthew Amick, Global Technical Services Manager at our Aerospace Coatings business. “By effectively moving the spray booth into the classroom, we completely eliminate waste, reduce costs and unnecessary shipping, while also preventing any volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from being released.”
Throughout the training, the operator's core skills are measured, from setting up the spraying session to the distance, angle and speed at which the gun is used. The feedback is immediate, so trainees can react quickly and change their technique to become more consistent.
“The training isn’t just useful for onboarding new apprentices, it’s also great for teaching advanced skills to more experienced operators,” adds Jeremiah Treloar, Chief Executive of Virtual Paint Products. “They can practice spraying more challenging parts with rivets, awkward corners and curves, and in a moving production line. It also helps experienced painters to teach new painters techniques on difficult parts or assemblies.”
Additional training tools and videos incorporated into the system also improve the training quality and, ultimately, the quality of the workforce. Trainees using the system are fully certified to aircraft industry standards.
Our Vehicle Refinishes business also operates a VR training facility at the company’s Sassenheim site in the Netherlands.