Royal Oak’s PIXO VR, a virtual reality software company, has released a new suite of VR training modules for the natural gas industry. The training includes jobs such as inside leak investigation, outside leak investigation, pipeline right-of-way patrolling, facility locating and marking, appliance inspection, and enhancements to its natural gas leak emergency response module, which debuted in late 2019.
With COVID-19 causing disruptions to traditional training, companies in the energy sector and others can turn to VR as a remote solution. Like natural gas leak emergency response, the new, multi-user training features randomized scenarios that expose trainees to millions of situational variables, testing real-time decision making.
The modules can be accessed and completed from a computer on an entirely remote basis, eliminating the need for hardware setup or travel to a training site.
“Our platform makes VR implementation simple,” says Sean Hurwitz, CEO of PIXO. “We give enterprise the ability to smartly manage and scale training content across numerous endpoints, users, and devices.”
The new training was developed in conjunction with GTI, an Illinois-based energy research, development, and training organization, and was funded by local distribution companies and Operations Technology Development, a consortium whose membership provides natural gas service for millions of customers in North America.
“It’s challenging,” says Ray Deatherage, senior program manager for energy delivery at GTI. “Even veteran employees have to stay focused. And, of course, that’s the point – you perform how you practice. Training like this improves learning retention; enhances safety for employees, the public, and the delivery system; and leads to safer work practices and improved operational efficiencies.”
Deatherage, who says the offering is for natural gas workers at all experience levels, worked as a subject matter expert on the new modules and says GTI’s previous collaborations with PIXO led to the creation of the new training.
“The response to (natural gas leak) emergency response was overwhelming. There’s real demand,” he says. “We’re excited to get more of this technology into the hands of trainees across our industry.”