Hands-on training can be risky. Letting a novice operate potentially dangerous machinery or complete sensitive, mission-critical processes can have negative results, even when overseen by an experienced instructor. Despite the risks, however, employees need proper training. Simulation training offers opportunities to practice complex and sensitive processes in a safe, virtual environment. But what is simulation training, and do simulation training methods have a place in your workforce training program?
What is Simulation Training?
Simulation training describes a virtual environment in which employees can practice and develop their skills. Available for maintenance and operations training across multiple industries, simulation training methods create a fully immersive environment. In addition to creating a virtual copy of the equipment or process being taught, simulation training may also duplicate the surrounding work environment, including background noise.
Simulation Training: Advantages and Disadvantages
Available for both in-person instructor-led training, virtual instructor-led training, and self-paced online training, simulation training methods allow employees to train for specific real world scenarios, including emergency conditions, with no risk to your staff or equipment. By providing hands-on practice with new skills, simulation training encourages long-term knowledge retention, while allowing employees to move from theory to practical application immediately.
Importantly, simulation training offers a safe place for students to fail. Learning from mistakes is an integral part of the learning process. In a virtual environment, employees can make mistakes and fail in safety, as well as experiment with processes and procedures without risk. This is especially important for safety training, where making mistakes in the real world could result in production shutdowns, equipment damage, injury, or even death. Employees gain confidence in their own abilities faster, secure in the knowledge their mistakes won’t have adverse effects.
Simulation training methods work best in combination with an experienced instructor. As the employee works through the simulation, the program and the instructor provide immediate and constructive feedback on the employee’s progress. This allows employees to adapt as they learn, incorporating instructor recommendations into their simulated behavior.
The ability for instant feedback extends to other employees, who learn by watching their fellow students engage with simulation training methods. This can foster a sense of cooperation and camaraderie, or be used to encourage friendly competition.
Simulation training requires no travel time or similar expenses. Employees can train from computers, bringing them up to speed on new processes faster and facilitating the transfer of learned skills to the workplace. It is even more cost-effective to contract out your simulation training needs with a company like TPC.
Drawbacks of Simulation Training
No simulation can duplicate every potential outcome in the real world. What the system can do, however, is train employees based on the most likely outcomes, which helps familiarize employees with proper processes. This familiarization, in turn, increases the likelihood the employee will know how to respond should a rare “black swan” event occur.
Simulation training systems can be costly to implement, maintain, and update, and require instructors trained to properly run simulations. Fortunately, most companies don’t need to create their own simulation training programs. Instead, they can contract with third-party providers who take care of all necessary instruction, updates and maintenance.
TPC Training acquired Simutech Multimedia in August, 2020. A provider of simulation training methods for maintenance and operations professionals, Simultech adds a new, valuable option to our digital training offerings. If you’re interested in pursuing simulation training for your employees, contact TPC Training and we’ll help you choose the best training methods for your workplace.