How Volkswagen, Audi, and BMW Are Using VR for Employee Training in the Automotive Industry

Michael Velichko
Michael Velichko

Employees of automobile companies work with specialized equipment and materials. It requires specific technical skills, which can not be obtained through theoretical learning. Therefore, automobile companies have to train all new employees.

It is necessary for automakers to provide constant training for their qualified employees as well. Technology is always evolving, and it is crucial to keep knowledge and skills up-to-date.

Virtual reality training is well suited for complex skills development and working out different scenarios. Therefore, many car manufacturers, including Volkswagen, Audi, and BMW use virtual reality in their training programs.

virtual reality apps

Why is the automobile industry interested in implementing VR solutions?

Training is a set of activities to guide a new employee or improve the performance of an employee in the current position. Well-developed employee training program increases their productivity and loyalty. In the end, it’s people who directly influence the financial results of the enterprise.

Most automakers use a standard approach to train their employees. First of all, employees complete a theoretical training and then practice to work with real operation equipment and materials under supervision.

Аt the practice stage employees feel much stress and make mistakes. Some of the mistakes may be harmful to the employee or lead to equipment damages.

VR training immerses the trainee in a three-dimensional space, simulating a real working environment. Thus, the trainee can start practicing skills in a safe environment from the very beginning of the training.

Mistakes сause no harm in the VR environment, so the trainee feels quite confident. In the virtual reality app, the trainee may repeat actions as many times as it is necessary to make them fluent.

Virtual reality allows you to safely put trainees in any situation and teach them the best working scenarios.

What automotive companies have implemented VR employee training solutions?

Many car manufacturers use virtual reality to train their employees more effectively. Let’s take a closer look at some VR training use cases in the automotive industry.

Volkswagen

Volkswagen planned to train 10,000 employees in 2018. To this end, the company has developed 30 simulation programs for employees in different fields.

Volkswagen is building their virtual reality portal, a so-called Digital Reality Hub. The employees can interact with the Hub using HTC Vive VR headset and two controllers.

Digital Reality Hub includes virtual meeting rooms, training programs, and knowledge bases.

Each Volkswagen Group employee has access to these virtual reality training and knowledge bases. This way, in virtual reality employees, can share their knowledge, continually learn and quickly implement know-hows in their work.

virtual reality application

Audi

Managers in Audi believe that the main advantage of the virtual training program is its effective use in any plant, regardless of its location.

Training in virtual reality is not tied to a special room or profile equipment. Thus, the economy of production resources is achieved.

Audi has a complicated logistics system that requires exceptional accuracy from employees. So, Audi has created virtual reality training to teach logistics employees ergonomic moves and prevent errors.

Trainees find themselves in the virtual model of the real workstation in the Ingolstadt Logistics Center. With the HTC Vive and controllers logistics employees train hand movements they need for their everyday work.

Audi also uses game-like virtual training for dealership employees. The trainee communicates with customers in the VR app and gets points for every interaction. The program counts the points and indicates trainee’s errors at each stage.

BMW

BMW started implementing VR technologies to its workflows back in the 1990s. Current BMW virtual reality projects are focused on exploring the application of VR technologies and VR integration with training, production, and marketing.

BMW is building a VR-based training system to improve the work of assembly line employees, customer service agents, human resources managers, and safety control officers. After each VR training, BMW conducts surveys and improves existing learning programs based on the surveys’ results.

One more way BMW uses virtual reality is prototyping and testing three-dimensional models before launching them into production. BMW uses Unreal Engine 4 to create virtual mock-ups. The BMW VR application allows you to check how the car will look up to the slightest detail.

What exactly do the automakers use VR for?

The use of virtual reality for training has a long history. Today, there is a huge number of proven practices and successful use cases.

virtual reality videos

Employee collaboration

Managing the cooperation of employees in global companies is a difficult task. Let’s consider an example of employee collaboration trough VR hubs in Volkswagen Group.

Volkswagen headquarters are located in Germany, while the logistic department is in the Czech Republic and its factories are located all over the world. At the same time, there are many issues that need to be solved jointly.

Therefore, Volkswagen uses the Digital Reality Hub for interactions among employees located remotely. Digital Reality Hub brings together Volkswagen employees from around the world to work on a shared project without the need to travel.

Volkswagen designers and engineers in different parts of the world can work together on the three-dimensional model in real time. The employees can make changes to the project on the go.

Each project member can view the history of changes in the virtual project. It gives the opportunity to compare the alternatives, go back to previous versions or continue development from a certain point.

The use of VR Volkswagen collaboration hubs helps to reduce the time for correspondence and paperwork, improve workflows and remove many bureaucratic obstacles. Volkswagen managers believe that this contributes to building a strong team, even though the employees are separated by many kilometers.

Vehicle assembling training

Traditional training provides a solid theoretical basis but does not allow the assembly line employees to master their manual actions. As a result, new employees need additional support during the adjustment period.

Therefore, many automotive companies, including Volkswagen and BMW, use virtual reality for training their car assembly line workers. With the help of virtual reality, automakers create a controlled and safe learning environment and increase the effectiveness of training.

Virtual reality applications train assembly line workers for ergonomic and safe movements. Thus, VR training helps reduce occupational injuries.

For example, Ford reduced injuries by 70%, analyzing VR training data and making appropriate improvements in the assembling process.

virtual reality headsets

Training for logistics employees

Logistics processes for car manufacturers are getting more and more complicated because of the variety of models and the creation of global supply systems. Still, many processes in logistics are not automated. And the businesses suffer losses due to the errors of logistics employees.

Therefore, Audi designed a VR training system to increase the concentration and motivation of logistics employees.

Audi VR training has successfully passed the testing and is already actively used to optimize packing processes at all Audi plants.

The trainees find themselves in a virtual environment that reproduces the real Logistic Center. The program gives hints on what objects to interact with and how to do it. The trainees interact with objects using controllers in their hands.

VR training is built in the manner of a step-to-step game with a constant complication of levels. After passing each level, the trainee receives feedback. The trainees can repeat levels until their actions become confident.

With the help of VR training, Audi reduced the need for space and physical equipment for the logistics employees training.

At the same time, the company managed to increase the interest of employees in their work and to implement the required quality standards.

Dealership employee training

Virtual reality is suitable not only for teaching mechanical skills but also for the development of soft skills. By simulating interaction scenarios in virtual reality applications, employees of automotive companies learn to meet customer needs to increase sales.

In 2017, Audi launched a virtual reality training program for dealers. The program includes several educational modules that train dealers on how to sell better using modern sales techniques, how to provide the best possible customer service, and how to manage client feedback.

In the virtual reality terminal, the trainee communicates with photorealistic characters: customers, colleagues, supervisors.

During the conversation, the trainee can observe customer mood scale. The degree of customer satisfaction determines interaction success.

The trainee collects points for successful communication. Each trainee’s score falls into the summary table. Thus, the employees can compare their results with other Audi dealers throughout Germany.

This VR dealership employee training teaches dealers how to provide client-oriented service and stimulates competition between dealers for achieving better performance.

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Virtual prototyping

The production of one physical mock-up of an automobile costs from $250,000 to $1,000,000. Usually, the development of one new car model requires 50-70 intermediate prototypes. Even for large automobile companies, the production of physical prototypes is too expensive.

VR prototyping allows you to create full-scale 3D models of physical objects. As BMW managers claim, the main goal of creating virtual reality prototypes is collaborative work on modeling, visualization, and analysis.

Engineers and designers of BMW Group use virtual reality technology to test different variations without wasting a lot of money on intermediate physical mock-ups.

In physical prototyping, resolving issues requires time and money. However, creating and testing new options is a seamless process in VR prototyping.

Virtual prototyping makes the development process agile and shortens iterations time. Thus, it is possible to significantly reduce the cost and accelerate producing new models of cars.

Today, technology is becoming obsolete very quickly. If in the 2000s the average time to develop a new vehicle platform was 7.6 years, then in 2010s it is already 6.7 years. And the tendency to reduce production cycles remains.

Therefore, in the competition among automobile manufacturers, often the determinant is a shorter development period.

Virtual prototyping can shorten the development cycle for several months and give you a competitive advantage.

vr apps automotive

What are the benefits of using VR for employee training?

Until recently, training with the help of virtual reality was the prerogative of government, military structures, and the wealthiest corporations. Now the prices for virtual reality equipment have made it affordable for mass use.

With the increasing availability of VR hardware and subsequent virtual reality development, more and more companies can use VR applications for their business purposes.

Let’s summarize how VR training  can benefit automotive businesses:

  • The trainee in VR app is isolated from the real world and, thus, more focused on the learning material. VR reduces training time and improves retention.
  • Virtual reality training is ideal for mastering mechanical actions of assembling or logistics employees. In the VR application, the trainee can practice skills as many times as needed. So the actions stick in muscle memory without even using any operation equipment and materials.
  • VR training combines visual, aural, verbal, and physical interactions. Therefore, it is suitable for different learning styles.
  • With the help of virtual reality, you can simulate different scenarios in a risk-free environment. For example, in virtual reality, the trainee can work out the actions in extraordinary situations.
  • You can use a standard VR training program in all enterprises, regardless of their location.
  • VR training increases employees involvement. Employees enjoy virtual reality training because of the game-like learning process. It forms loyalty to your company as well.
  • In VR training apps, it is easy to estimate the trainee’s performance, track bottlenecks and reveal insights to improve your business processes.

All the long-term benefits of using VR training in the automotive industry will pay off. And our virtual reality experts will help you to choose the best solution to meet your business goals.

vr headsets automotive

Final Thoughts

Virtual reality is changing the approach to training in the automotive industry. Large corporations start to use VR headsets and controllers instead of specialized training centers.

VR allows you to get an employee up to speed in no time. The employees feel less stress and work more efficiently as they already know how to deal with the working environment. Thus, it is possible to train new employees, upgrade their qualifications or retrain existing ones.

In virtual reality apps employees can work together on the model in real time. It means less paperwork and bureaucracy, as well as shorter interactions time.

Virtual reality can bring benefits at all stages of development, production, and testing of new cars. With its help, it is easy to design any details and mechanisms and create full-fledged prototypes. In fact, you can test more alternatives at a lower cost.

In light of this, VR development doesn’t cost as much as it brings to long-term business growth.

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