Logistics operations are becoming increasingly complex and involve multiple technological processes.
Logistics companies maintain large storage and sorting warehouses that accumulate thousands of packages and cargoes every day. As the company grows, its warehouses grow, too, as they need to process higher volumes from day to day.
Despite technological progress, warehousing still requires quite extensive manual labor. Somebody needs to operate forklifts and high loaders, control the sorting equipment, search for the goods that need to be dispatched, maintain safety in the warehouse.
In other words, logistics companies need enough staff in their warehouses. Trained staff. A staff that can operate this particular equipment and follow the procedures of this particular company.
In real life, this means that each logistics company needs to train its employees. During the training, newcomers learn to operate the equipment and handle the goods according to the company’s rules and procedures.
Today, in the context of staff training, logistics companies face some challenges:
- High personnel turnover. Warehouse jobs are usually in the low-skill category and can be done by people with no higher or special education.
- This means that often people apply to warehouses when they are in-between jobs, when they need a part-time job or when they are still getting their education but need income.
- In such circumstances, it is no surprise that warehouse workers often quit jobs for various reasons and need to be replaced. Hence, more training.
- Language barrier. Jobs that require minimal initial skills often attract immigrants seeking basic income. In many cases, immigrants have a rather limited command of the national language, which can cause problems during training.
- Need to assign experienced personnel to training. New employees usually learn under the guidance of an experienced colleague who has to be taken off their main duties to hold training.
- Here, the company management needs to get truly creative and inventive to minimize losses. On the one hand, the instructor absent from their usual work may create a bottleneck in the workflow. On the other hand, it may be necessary to wait until the group of trainees becomes large enough to start the next training.
- In both cases, the company faces additional costs and the service may deteriorate.
- Cost of practical on-site training. While some of the knowledge can be obtained in a classroom, warehouse skills are better practiced in realistic situations. Letting inexperienced people handle unfamiliar equipment may lead to its damage. Besides, the company needs to provide enough cargo models to practice with that may also be damaged or destroyed during training.
- Besides, logistics companies often outsource their training, as they have no professional instructors in-house.
- With the irregular pattern of warehouse personnel hiring, inviting an instructor every time a new employee appears may be impractical. Otherwise, the company may be forced to wait until a group of new employees gathers so that they can be trained at once.
These challenges can be resolved when training is moved from the “real” reality to the virtual one. The power of virtual reality (VR) is in its flexibility and unlimited possibilities it offers. VR training for logistics companies allows saving costs and optimize workflows.
Benefits of VR training for logistics companies
Above, we have listed some of the most common problems that logistics companies need to deal with when they organize training for their warehousing staff.
Let’s see how virtual reality helps to solve them.
Flexibility in scheduling the training
When a company has a complete VR training solution, it can train employees at any time. It does not matter whether there is a group of three or eleven people today or whether a new employee comes every couple of days.
A VR training program can be launched for as many trainees as needed with no special preparations.
Besides, since the “training site” is, in fact, in the virtual space, there is no need to arrange special training facilities for new employees.
If you train in a real warehouse, you will need to block a section of it for the training, assign a forklift to the trainees, use some shelves, palettes, cargo models for the trainees to practice with.
With a VR app, you will not need to disrupt your production process at all.
The beauty of a virtual reality training app, or any training app, is that the multi-language support can be included already at the development stage.
With a multilingual VR app, your staff training will become much easier and faster, as you can train people speaking other languages in the same way as those speaking the national language.
On the cost side, having a multilingual app is an advantage, too. No need for interpreters and no restriction in hiring employees speaking other languages – this can bring significant savings for the company.
With VR, each trainee just needs to select their language and follow the training scenario with prompts and instructions in the language they understand.
No need to engage experienced personnel
Virtual reality training occurs in a virtual space that is safe for both the trainees and warehouse equipment and goods.
Of course, professional colleagues can assist at the initial stages of the training by instructing the new employees on the basic procedures, but there will be no need for their further presence. They can continue with their primary duties while the trainees learn new skills in VR.
Safety of the trainees and equipment
With the training scenario recreated in virtual reality, there is no danger for the trainees to be injured during the practical exercises.
Naturally, when they master the skills in virtual reality, they can refine them later in a live environment, but until they are confident around the equipment and goods, they can safely train in virtual reality.
On the other hand, VR training protects the goods from careless handling or errors. If you drop a box in VR, there is no real damage, unlike practicing with real goods. On the other hand, there is no risk of damaging expensive warehouse equipment.
The costs of developing even a fully featured VR training app will be lower than contracting a professional instructor every time the company hires a new employee.
VR training app features
Our VR training apps for logistic companies can be built around any scenario and customized according to the requirements of a particular business. In addition to the multi-language support that we mentioned already, we can implement many other useful features.
In addition to the recreation of actual warehouse environments, VR apps can also include such advanced features as elapsed time representation. Why is this important? In logistics, time is one of the key parameters, and personnel training is aimed, among other things, at performing actions quickly and within the set time limits.
A virtual reality app, no matter how advanced, is still physically restricted within a relatively small space – a room equipped with a couple of sensors.
Thus, if the scenario includes traveling to a different point in a warehouse, the actual distance is much shorter.
However, the app can adjust the VR time so that it reflects the time that will be spent for the same action in reality.
For example, if it takes a warehouse worker three minutes to reach the necessary warehouse section, the VR app will record 3 minutes, even if the trainee actually “jumped” from one spot to the other in the VR space.
Training recording and logging for further analysis
VR training apps allow recording the training sessions to review and analyze them later. Here, the benefits are multiple.
For example, when the records show that the same employee makes the same mistake over and over, this may mean that they have not mastered the skill properly and need additional training.
On the other hand, when you see that many employees make the same mistake, you can conclude that there is something wrong with the training program that needs to be improved.
Training records can yield volumes of useful information that you can use to make training more effective. Besides, the virtual reality app gathers lots of analytics for each person to monitor the learning progress.
Of course, the recording feature is essential during tests. With a complete record, the instructor can evaluate and grade the trainee’s skills and determine whether they are ready for the actual work.
One of the effective training flows is to run the scenario on a large monitor for the whole class to follow. One of the trainees wearing a VR headset is performing the tasks while the rest of the group are watching.
In this case, the group also learns by noting both the correct actions of their colleagues and their mistakes. The instructor may comment during the VR training scenario pointing out important things.
In logistics, many operations are to be performed by a team. Therefore, it is critical to train employees for teamwork, too. The VR training app supporting the multiplayer mode will be a perfect solution here.
In multiplayer mode, several trainees can participate in the same scenario trying to achieve a common goal. They can interact with each other in VR, talk to each other, pass objects to each other.
Cost of building a VR training app for logistics companies
The cost of a VR app largely depends on the hardware that is used. For such an application, we recommend two hardware options:
- HTC Vive, a professional VR system connected to a PC with an advanced video card. The average cost of a PC capable of performing the required tasks is $1500, of a virtual reality system (a headset, two controllers and two sensors) – $800 which makes a total of $2300.
- This VR hardware set will make a complete workplace for one trainee. For multiplayer apps, each member will need a separate VR set consisting of a PC and a virtual reality system.
HTC Vive ensures maximum immersion and creates the most realistic VR experiences. The effectiveness of the VR training is going to be at the same level as during live training.
- Oculus Quest, a 64 GB standalone VR headset priced at $399. Oculus Quest can create great VR experiences and supports interactive apps. Therefore, we also recommend it as a hardware solution for logistics training. With Oculus Quest, you need no PC or other hardware, the app will be running right within the VR headset.
To develop a fully featured app for VR training for logistics companies will take about 4 months on the average.
For extremely complex VR apps including many sophisticated computer graphics, the VR development can take as long as 6 months.
As to the virtual reality development cost, it varies greatly depending on the complexity of the virtual space and the number of 3D objects that users can interact with. The cost of a VR training app starts at $50,000 – $60,000 and can grow with the complexity of the virtual world that needs to be recreated.
When we build VR apps for clients, we hand over all source code to them. Thus, our clients are always free to modify the VR applications as necessary. For example, whenever the client changes their standard operating procedures, and such changes affect the training scenarios, the scenarios can be updated accordingly.
On the other hand, virtual reality is quite an advanced technology requiring special developer skills. Therefore, we recommend that a working VR app is updated only by professional VR developers to ensure its proper performance.
A quality VR training app can become your useful tool for years. With a reasonable initial investment, you are getting a high-performance training environment that can help you onboard your new employees easier and with greater effectiveness. By integrating virtual reality into your operation flows, you can optimize your staff performance and save costs.
We welcome logistics companies to discuss the ways to transform their training programs with virtual reality. Our VR staff such as engineers, designers, and business analysts will be happy to consult you on how to make the VR technology work for your benefit.
Contact us for a detailed discussion!