Original article featured in the February 2020 issue of VR World Tech Magazine - Contributor Mark Dugdale
The new VR competency assessment and training programme at Danos is helping the oilfield service provider develop its employees in ways it hasn’t before.
VR training is reducing risk, saving costs and developing the workforce of tomorrow for a family-owned and managed oilfield service provider.
Danos, which was founded in 1947 and today has 3,000 employees, began developing a VR competency assessment and training programme for its workforce in late 2018. It was fully implemented in December 2019.
The programme uses VR software and headsets, so employees can see a job site and virtually perform tasks. Training and assessment can take place at a Danos or customer office rather than involving travel offshore or to a job site.
Eric Danos, owner and executive over human resources, finance, safety and land, explains the cost and risk benefits of the new programme: “Typical training costs consist of course costs, per diem, lodging, mileage and wages. In addition, one of the most significant costs for the offshore oil and gas industry is transportation to and from the facility, often by helicopter. Another cost that people do not often consider is lost production when our best employees are removed from their work to be trained.”
“All of these costs are substantially reduced or in some cases eliminated through the use of VR. VR requires less transportation for both the trainee and the trainer, it reduces time away from work and it improves training outcomes.”
HE continues: “From a risk perspective, VR makes impacts in two key areas. First, it eliminates entirely the transportation exposure from having employees going back and forth to training locations. One of our biggest hazards in our land-based operations is road travel. VR takes people off the roads.”
“The second significant reduction in risk comes through better trained employees who are more capable of doing their work effectively. In VR, employees virtually walk through and perform job tasks from beginning to end before ever stepping into the real work environment. Tasks can be repeated, and variables can be manipulated to simulate different factors. When employees do engage the physical task after virtual simulation, they are much better prepared to work safely.”
Eric Danos says the oilfield service operator is using technology to sit alongside different types of traditional training.
“When used appropriately, VR improves the outcome of traditional, stand-alone led training,” he explains. “There are places for instructor led training, VR, AR and computer-based training. Research suggests that computer-based training is most effective for short, non-complex training. VR is better in a complex environment. VR allows students to interact with equipment and the way that equipment functions, like seeing the internal fluid dynamics of a virtual vessel during operation.”
On top of a reduction in risk and costs, the VR training programme also makes the oilfield service provider a more attractive employer to younger generations considering a career in the oil and gas industry.
Eric Danos says: “Millennials learn differently than baby boomers. They are comfortable with these technologies and embrace them. New employees coming into our workforce relate to what we are creating.”
Danos is now considering the deployment of immersive technology elsewhere in the business, following its introduction through workforce training.
Eric Danos explains: We are using it (VR) to train and assess the workforce of tomorrow. We are also exploring the technology in ways we didn’t imagine at first, like improving public speaking. Augmented reality solutions are being tested for remote assistance which allows employees at a worksite to engage with experts anywhere in the world. This on-demand access to information and support is significantly changing the way we think about work.”