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What happens after you find a candidate with the right skills and hire them? The next step is usually onboarding and training—a critical process that sets the tone for the employee’s experience at your organization and determines how prepared they are for the first day on the job.

Simulated training environments have been around for a while. Pilots must complete a specific number of hours in a flight simulator before they can enter the cockpit on an actual plane. Surgeons use VR simulations to help them better understand new procedures and hone fine motor skills before donning a pair of real surgical gloves.

Recently, simulation training has been used in advanced manufacturing and automation to better prepare workers for highly technical roles. This preparation improves safety on the job, creates a more skilled workforce, and closes skills gaps by ensuring your workforce has the right skills to be successful in a fast-paced manufacturing environment. Let’s take a closer look at some of the features and benefits of simulation training and if it could be a good fit for your organization.

What is Simulation Training?

Definitions vary, but generally, simulation training replicates the real-world environment of a workplace. Trainees can learn basic job skills or improve technical skills needed for advanced processes. It can be especially useful for troubleshooting a complex machine or learning a multi-step process.

Simulation training can take place on different combinations of hardware and software and include various levels of immersion. Some setups are as simple as a computer program to learn CNC programming skills. Others involve a VR training space that simulates a real-world factory. Many technical colleges have training labs with practice equipment or working production lines for students to learn how to install, operate, and maintain machinery.

Training in a Zero-Risk Environment

One of the main benefits of simulation training is the ability for trainees to take a trial-and-error approach with little risk of real-world consequences. It helps people learn new skills and answer the question, “if I do this, what happens?” Learners can experiment with different scenarios to find out what works best and how they arrived at right or wrong answers.

Simulation training can be beneficial in more dangerous jobs or when there is an increased risk to expensive equipment or human life. Putting someone into a real-world environment without the proper knowledge or training is always a safety hazard. Letting manufacturing employees learn the nuts and bolts of a new machine or technology is a great way to train a skilled, safe, and efficient workforce.

Gaining Confidence with Technical Skills

The benefits of being able to “push buttons” and experiment beyond textbook learning helps a trainee gain knowledge and confidence to apply technical skills in the real world. An employee who has experience troubleshooting a complicated machine during a training simulation will have more confidence (and competence!) when faced with a similar situation on the factory floor.

FANUC America, one of the most familiar names in manufacturing automation, developed a virtual training solution for companies trying to fill positions for 5-axis machine operators. The demand for this type of machining is on the rise as manufacturers continue producing more complex parts for high-tech industries like aerospace and healthcare. FANUC’s virtual training includes controls for operation and part programming and trainees can learn how to set up and work with the three most common advanced 5-axis milling machines.

For manufacturers struggling to find workers, virtual training can help equip employees with the latest skills needed in an evolving industry—closing skills gaps and creating a more competent workforce. Simulation training also helps in situations where there are few instructors available to teach emerging, highly-technical skills.

Quantifying Results

Another benefit of simulation training that shouldn’t be overlooked is the availability of data and the ability to quantify results. Your organization can use training performance data and analytics to design future exercises and even improve real-world processes. When passed on to managers and company leadership, that same training data can help assess your workforce’s strengths and weaknesses and identify skills gaps you may not have known about.

Help Prepare Your Workforce for Success

Creating simulation training specific to your industry or organization can help employees learn new skills, gain confidence, bridge manufacturing skills gaps, and give them the tools for success in a rapidly changing environment.

Part of our mission at Nocti Business Solutions is to help employers accurately assess the skills of their workforce and ensure employees have the correct technical skill for the job. Our library of 200+ technical assessments help organizations place the right people in the right positions. We can also assist with credential development and training solutions—just let us know how we can help solve your workforce challenges!