Fonterra said the system lets employees navigate the cooperative’s manufacturing and distribution sites without setting foot on site and will help reduce onboarding times.
A Fonterra spokesperson told DairyReporter Fonterra commissioned Beca to develop the tool, so Fonterra owns the rights to the application, which was specifically tailored to Fonterra’s sites.
The cooperative said the technology is part of a business-wide commitment to become a world leader in risk mitigation.
Fonterra director of health and safety, resilience and risk, Greg Lazzaro, said VR has the potential to be a game changer at the cooperative, and that the opportunities for VR are significant.
“We can replicate the physical environment of our sites, so staff can undertake virtual health and safety training in an extremely immersive and realistic way,” Lazzaro said.
“That means our people can learn about and identify potential hazards more quickly than ever, encouraging more engaged employees and better workplace safety.”
The new VR technology will replace a significant portion of the hands-on health and safety training at Fonterra that is often costlier and less effective.
Training can be tailored to each of Fonterra’s sites and tested through the completion of modules.
Currently all training is carried out onsite, the spokesperson said.
“We see VR H&S training as being more efficient, though – at the moment the trainee has to be accompanied by another person e.g. a manager, who is facilitating the training. This training could take place over a couple of weeks.
“With VR, the trainee can do this learning independently. This tool also allows us to capture data on the completion on training so we know when people need a refresher, for example. It’s also introducing employees to a new technology that could have additional applications in the future.”
Adding value to businesses
Andrew Cowie, project manager for Beca, said the technology is the future of health and safety training and can be easily replicated in other workplaces and training areas.
“Walmart now trains using VR, American footballers are using it and so is the military. Our clients are increasingly interested in the application of VR technologies and the value it can add to their businesses,” Cowie said.
“In this case, using VR for training is ideal as it is effective whilst being both cost and time efficient. The reality capture for these training tours is done easily with a handheld camera and the VR simulation works via a smart phone using a simple cardboard headset.”
Fonterra said while no additional applications are under development at the moment, it recognizes VR is a valuable technology that will likely be used more and more.