Put down the pen, pick up a tablet! Virtual factories and augmented reality in Sidel training centres

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Virtual factories, augmented reality - and good old hands-on training
Virtual factories, augmented reality - and good old hands-on training

Related tags Sidel

Sidel Services has opened a training centre in Guadalajara, Mexico that includes a virtual factory, augmented reality, and a library of technical manuals accessible on tablet devices.

Sidel provides production systems for liquid packaging, and Luigi Armani, central training and technical competence development director, Sidel, told FoodProductionDaily.com that training courses are ‘vital’ if beverage producers are to get the most from their lines.

We are training different [job] profiles from people who work on the lines, with programmes offering a range of subject areas from general maintenance, operations and processes, to troubleshooting and general line efficiency,​” he said.

Away from the pressure

We find the virtual factory allows us to simulate the trainees’ work environment away from the pressures of day-to-day operations, providing a real focus and an effective way of training with no impact on the customer’s running production line​,” he added.

The Mexican facility is used to train customers using Sidel equipment, as well as Sidel’s own employees. Both virtual technology and traditional hands-on training is used.

A customers’ plant can be recreated using virtual technology to give trainees a relevant environment. Training sessions use authentic parts for assembling and disassembling, along with equipment such as valves; filling, blowing and labelling stations; production line PCCs (panels for control and command) and simulators to develop troubleshooting skills.

A 3D interactive modelling system means each piece of equipment in Sidel’s catalogue can be disassembled.

sidel training centre

Tablets keep all technical manuals to hand

The facility in Mexico’s second largest-city is Sidel’s seventh training centre, with other facilities located in the US, France, Italy, Brazil, Malaysia and China. Sidel said it uses the training centres to transfer its global knowledge to a local level, training 5,000 people each year.

Training methods have changed in a number of ways over the last 10 years, said Armani.  

We have new technologies, including virtual environments and other digital methods,​” he said. “One simple example is the rise of tablet devices, which means operators can now have all the technical manuals and guides available immediately to hand, with quick search functionalities for faster information access.

Obviously different production technology has entered the industry, which requires new training content. We employ a mix of methods, using virtual systems alongside hands-on sessions.​”

But with a close eye on budgets, are manufacturers still prepared to spend money on training courses?

It is about adding value to our customers’ Sidel equipment, their beverage products, and their bottom line; and improving the reliability and efficiency of a production line by ensuring the operators are trained to deliver consistent results,​” Armani said. “As long as they see this added value demonstrated for real, manufacturers will continue to invest in training​.”

Sidel's training catalogue includes 350 programmes in different languages. They consist of online modules, live courses, and on-the-job training. The average course length is four days but can last longer than 10 days to meet specific needs.  

Related topics Processing & Packaging

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