How to Check Whether Your Browser Works With Our Training System

How to Check Whether Your Browser Works With Our Training System

Here at Simutech Multimedia, we’re always looking for new ways to help our customers get the most out of our training system. We recently shared an overview of our electrical safety training module built on the new 3D training system.

Many of our customers were excited about the new launch, and some asked us if there was a tool they could use to test whether their browsers would work with Simutech’s new 3D training system. So we decided to build a tool to do just that. We call it the browser test, and you can access it by visiting simutechmultimedia.com/browser.

How to use the browser test

Once you go to the browser test tool, you’ll notice that it’s split up into different sections: service test, browser details, internet connections, and graphics.

browser test

The service test section is a general status update showing whether or not our 3d training system is accessible. If everything’s working as it should, you’ll see a message saying, “Simutech API connection established.” And if our training system goes offline for some reason, you’ll get an error message with information about how to contact our support team for help.

The next section of the browser test tool is where you’ll see all the information related to the browser you’re using. We automatically detect your operating system and browser to show you whether or not it works with Simutech’s training system. At the bottom of that section, you’ll see the minimum browser requirements.

After you’ve verified that your browser and operating system are compatible with our training system, you can look at your connection speed and graphics details to determine whether or not you meet the minimum requirements. For internet connection, we recommend a minimum speed of 5 Mbps, and for graphics, we recommend that you use a computer with a resolution of at least 1366×768. Also, be sure to check that you have an Intel Core i5 with U620 Intel Graphics and 8GB of RAM. You can find this information by going to your computer’s settings.

If you’re still using our 2D product, we also have a secondary tool that will help you determine whether it will work on your computer. You can find it here: simutechmultimedia.com/browser/2d. For more information our training system, be sure to reach out to us at sales@simutechmultimedia.com.

 

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How do you approach troubleshooting electrical equipment at work?

How do you approach troubleshooting electrical equipment at work?

When explaining how best to prepare for unscheduled maintenance and downtime, it’s important to evaluate your current workplace procedures by asking yourself questions that get at the heart of what makes for a good troubleshooting process.

How do you approach troubleshooting electrical equipment at work? Do you have a formal process you use at your plant? Do you rely on a handful of troubleshooting pro’s to troubleshoot? Do you rely on external staff to troubleshoot more advanced equipment such as PLC?

How about across your organization, do you have a company wide troubleshooting process? Does every employee follow the same process to ensure troubleshooting is completed safely, efficiently and cost effectively?

Many companies have some type of troubleshooting process documented. The development of this process is a key first step.

Troubleshooting electrical equipment with Simutech’s Troubleshooting Fundamentals Learning Lab

At Simutech, we have developed our own 5-Step systematic approach to troubleshooting and we share it publicly on our website. What the important missing piece in most troubleshooting processes is though, is actually putting them to practice, and training staff to use them. That’s why in addition to our 5-step process, we also developed a training module to teach technicians how to use it.

 troubleshooting electrical equipment

That’s the focus of our second training module, our Troubleshooting Fundamentals Learning Lab. It teaches our 5-step process using a hands-on approach with simulation-based modules.

In our second module – Troubleshooting Fundamentals, a trainee will learn:

  1. Our Systematic Troubleshooting process
  2. How to use a multimeter (Voltage, resistance, current)
  3. How to read schematics
  4. How to test for opens and shorts

In the Systematic Troubleshooting section, trainees learn about the power of observation, how to narrow down the problem area so problems can be solved fast, how to determine the most probable causes of issues, how to test and interpret those test results, and how to repair the problems identified safely and efficiently.

The module then uses simulation technology to teach trainees on how to use a multimeter safely, and understand how voltmeters, Ohmmeters and Ammeters work in practice. Users are expected to take measurements and answer questions to confirm that they are understanding what they are observing.

Users are also expected to understand how to read a basic schematic and wiring diagram and how to use these diagrams to troubleshoot and repair problems.

By the end of this module a trainee should have the knowledge they need to troubleshoot basic electrical components.

At its core, this module also provides your company with a systematic approach to troubleshooting, which can be applied across the board, so that all employees are troubleshooting and following the same documented processes, allowing for the standardization and streamlining of your troubleshooting approach, reducing your overall downtime during unscheduled maintenance.

To learn more, or get a trial, contact us at sales@simutechmultimedia.com

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How COVID-19 Could Affect The Skills Gap

How COVID-19 Could Affect The Skills Gap

Three months ago, IndustryWeek published an article with the following headline: “Factory Skills Gap Could Spell Trouble for Trump’s Jobs Plan”. What a different world it seems now since that. However, perhaps not for every industry, or every issue. 

For example, let’s go back to the content of that article published on February 2nd. It revealed some research that “four-fifths of more than 400 U.S. executives surveyed said that a shortage of sufficiently skilled workers will affect their companies in the next 12 months.” So how will the return to work post-COVID affect the skills gap that companies were already experiencing. 

It’s hard to know just yet, but there are a few possible scenarios as to what the economy will look like as it bounces back from the impacts of COVID-19, and how it could affect the skills gap. 

Scenario 1: V-shaped economy

In a V shaped economic rebound, the economy would come roaring back with a return to employment crunch immediately. Were this was to happen, the effects of it combined with a potential re-expansion of the manufacturing sector at home, we would expect to see an exasperation of the skills gap. 

How to respond: Further emphasis on training a multi-skilled labor force would be needed to combat the effects of the massive labor demands.

Scenario 2: U-shaped economy

In a U shaped economy, the recovery period will be slow for a short period of time, then quickly start to rebound. This is the most likely scenario if a vaccine is introduced in the fall meaning the economic rebound would take place in 2021. If the economy does grow fast once the rebound starts, the skills gap would closely mirror that of the V shaped economy. The difference here is that in a U-shaped economy there is an opportunity to fill some positions that would have been difficult in the past. 

How to respond: Take immediate action to plan for how you will hire, train, and onboard new employees.

Scenario 3: A slow economic recovery

In a slow recovery, the economy will stagnate or grow at a slow rate for some time. In this case there will be opportunities for companies to complete some hiring and the pressure of finding qualified skilled workers would ease. If this scenario was to persist for two or more years, the skill gap crunch will be reduced to a manageable rate. 

How to respond: Focus on hiring qualified skilled-workers, and improve training measures in order to maintain their skills. 

Scenario 4: None of the above

The impact of Covid on manufacturing and skills-gap could take a hundred different twists and turns. In many cases the impact might be sector-specific. For example, while automakers stopped production during the crisis, food production and packaging has continued and even escalated. The Oil and Gas industry, as we all know, was hit hard by COVID-19, with oil prices at one point even dropping to negative prices. So the recovery period of that sector is much more unclear than say, the pharmaceutical industry or logistics (UPS, Fedex, etc) sector, which have continued to operate at full capacity throughout all of this. 

How to respond: It’s hard to be prepared for anything, but listen to the experts, follow trends, plan where you can, and be open whatever the new normal will look like. 

It is likely that in the short term there will be a lateral movement in skilled labor from one sector to the other until the market stabilises and the economy goes back to normal growth patterns.

In the long run, however, the trends for automation and demand in the electrical field to have highly skilled troubleshooting experts will continue, especially as plants reshore or retool. In addition, the ability to graduate more qualified technicians will go through a short period of stress as schools retool to go online and find ways to teach and assess new staff.

Regardless of what scenario may shape up, the trend for qualified electricians that can work in an industrial setting will likely continue, and the need to train them online is a trend that will take shape. 

What you are seeing when it comes to the skills gap and post-COVID? How are you planning on addressing the future of the skills gap? Let us know at marketing@simutechmultimedia.com 

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Why you need an LRS

Why you need an LRS

A Learning Management System (LMS) is one of the best tools to have in the employee training and e-learning environment. With the introduction of cloud-computing, the LMS opened up enormous possibilities for the seamless management of e-courses and assessment data across any device.

While most Learning Management Systems have incredible tools for the administration of courses, and many have impressive course authoring capabilities as well, the one area where LMSs are often lacking is in the collection and reporting of detailed data. While an LMS may be able to tell you when a user last logged in, or what course they last used, almost all of them are useless when it comes to in-course action reporting.

For example, if you want to find out how much time a learner spent in each question, how much detail on each page they clicked on, how many times they tried and re-tried to arrive at the correct answer, or any other fine detailed reporting like that, it’s unlikely an LMS would be able to give you that detailed data on it’s own.

That’s why at Simutech, in addition to our LMS, we also use what’s known as a Learning Record Store (LRS).

How to use an LRS

An LRS receives and records click-by-click user experiences and stores them in an accessible database. An LRS complements an LMS so that you can both administer and track the detailed data from your learner’s engagement and interaction with their e-learning and training courses.

We’ve put together this list of how an LRS can help you train your maintenance technicians in a way that’s beneficial to their learning, and your company’s bottom line:

  1. Get detailed data: As we’ve stated, the sheer amount of data an LRS can collect and store in it’s servers is almost infinite. In our Simutech Training System, our LRS track each click a user makes in the courses, allowing us to compile an incredible amount of data on the path it took a user to arrive at the solution to the problems posed in our courses. It’s core to our methodology that it isn’t just about whether you troubleshooted a broken component or machine, it’s also about the process. The detailed reporting capabilities of our LRS allow us to easily and efficiently track whether users are following the 5-Step Simutech Troubleshooting Process, and quickly course-correct if necessary. This is part of the unique experience that sets Simutech apart from other e-learning companies
  2. Customize your training plan: With the detailed user data collected in the LRS, you are better equipped to understand how well each of your technicians are doing solving specific kinds of faults, and where they might be struggling. Knowledge is power when it comes to training your employees, and knowing where their strengths lay and where they still need to improve will better equip you to customize a training plan for them, as well as place them in key areas of the factory where you can be sure they will excel. Only with an LRS can you dig deep into the detailed data necessary to create customized training.
  3. Assess learning and candidates: Many customers use LMS training courses to assess prospective candidates for maintenance and technician positions at their plants. It’s a great way to be able to capture a person’s knowledge base and skill level before hiring them. An LMS only takes you so far in understanding a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses though. Combined with detailed LRS data, you can be sure you’re making the right hiring decision for your company. At Simutech we specialize in testing and assessment, and the LRS data we offer as part of our training software complements the assessments administered through our LMS.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Simutech’s LMS and LRS combined learning approach can benefit your company, reach out to us today at sales@simutechmultimedia.com

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Why learning about LOTO is essential

Why learning about LOTO is essential

Recently the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced its list for the Top 10 workplace violations of 2019. Many of these troubling statistics have remained unchanged for years. It’s time to make 2020 the year we finally tackle workplace safety hazards in a meaningful and lasting way.

Rates for workplace injuries and fatalities:

  • 4,900 workplace fatalities each year
  • 3.6 Million injuries and illnesses
  • 70 Million work days lost
  • 162 Billion total cost to workers and employers

The top four violations in 2019 were:

  • Fall Protection
  • Hazard Communication
  • Scaffolds
  • Lockout/Tagout (LOTO)

The OSHA estimates that implementing proper Lock Out Tag Out (LOTO) procedures prevent 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries annually, as up to 10% of all industrial safety incidents are believed to be related to failure to properly lockout equipment.

Why is LOTO Important?

LOTO is a necessary and widely neglected safety practice that helps to provide protection to employees. When workers are maintaining machines or equipment, they could be seriously injured or killed if hazardous energy is not properly controlled. Injuries resulting from the failure to control hazardous energy during maintenance activities can be serious or fatal. Injuries may include electrocution, burns, crushing, cutting, lacerating, amputating, or fracturing body parts, and others. This is why LOTO is so crucial to ensuring employees both are and feel safety.

Six Steps of LOTO

The recommended steps are as follows and should be conducted in this order:

  1. Preparation
  2. Control the energy source
  3. Isolate the equipment
  4. Attach LOTO devices
  5. Control stored energy
  6. Verify that there is zero energy left.

In Simutech Multimedia, safety is considered the first step in the learning process. It’s crucial all maintenance teams learn critical electrical safety skills, such as how to work properly with electricity safely, why safety precautions are so important in daily activities and the kinds of safety issues that may arise during troubleshooting a piece of equipment. It’s why we build an entire e-learning course around reinforcing the importance of and step to lock out and tag out electrical equipment.

If you want to learn more about our simulation training program, don’t hesitate to contact us: sales@simutechmultimedia.com

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Why is troubleshooting hard and what to do about simplifying it and teaching it

Why is troubleshooting hard and what to do about simplifying it and teaching it

In 1993, a study was published by a researcher named Alma Schaafstal that concluded the following:

  1. “Technicians lack a systematic approach in troubleshooting”
  2. “[Technicians] lack a functional understanding of the installations they have to maintain”

Years later, in an article published in the Engineering Psychology and Cognitive Ergonomics journal in 2016, another set of researchers came to a remarkably similar conclusion and added:

  1. “The training of a systematic approach to troubleshooting should be embedded in regular training courses, in such a way that this systematic approach becomes a ‘second nature’ to technicians”.
  2. “The knowledge of installations should be taught at a function level, not at a component level”.

The problem with troubleshooting training

How does the problem of troubleshooting training manifest itself in today’s workplaces? In many cases, manufacturers hire generally skilled technicians to perform maintenance tasks. When it comes to electrical related work, many of these employees are dedicated and skilled electricians who have a good understanding of electrical concepts.

However, in some cases due to chronic skilled labor shortages, these technicians come from a mechanical background and are asked to perform maintenance functions. This recipe is when troubles with troubleshooting begins.

Today, many companies rely on a patchwork of training systems to train their technicians. One common method is called the ‘buddy system’. It’s when a skilled technician teaches a new employee what goes on at the plant, how to perform day-to-day tasks, and how to troubleshoot when something goes wrong.

At best, the buddy system covers the most common issues that come up at the plant, and hopes that a systematic method is being used to troubleshoot. However, that is usually not the case. As a matter of fact, with the buddy system, troubleshooting methodology varies by plant, shop, shift and individual and since there is no standard proven method. The result is varied and often leads to loss of productivity, longer downtime and safety issues.

Another common troubleshooting difficulty is the lack of knowledge transfer from the technicians who installed the equipment to the technicians who regularly maintain it day-to-day. Many plants rely on the OEM’s to install and maintain the equipment for some time after installation. This isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but it should be coupled with proper training for the rest of the technicians on the installation method and known issues of each piece of equipment.

This issue is further compounded by the fact that automation and smart equipment are now more than ever self-diagnosing machines. This creates further distance between the maintenance team from the components. With increased automation and data, time between incidents is increasing, which is undoubtedly a good thing. However, when problems arise, they are now more severe and time to repair is longer, causing more losses for plants.

As this trend continues, the only mitigation for it is the implementation of comprehensive and continuous troubleshooting training. This is a great lesson learned from the airline industry, as autopilots and computers take over the flight operations of a plane, time between flight incidents increases, but has the severity of problems.

In response to this, pilots have become master troubleshooters, able to address both common and uncommon problems that arise. The way they learn those skills safely in a controlled environment that replicates real-life dangerous scenarios that require a mastery of troubleshooting skills, is in the flight simulator to practice, over and over and over again.

All of this research offers two good suggestions in order to combat the issues raised:

  1. Embed a systematic troubleshooting methodology in your training. At Simutech, we do just that, offering our 5-step Systematic Troubleshooting Approach to anyone that wants it.
  2. Train at a functional level, not a component-specific level. Take a step back from a specific component or brand and have the employee learn at a functional level so they can think critically and troubleshoot on any component made by any brand. We build our training system on this principle of functional universality.

One more item that was not addressed in the research and quite important in teaching troubleshooting, and that is related to the creation of a comprehensive training program that focuses on the trainee and using data to make sure they are progressing to a level needed to be able to complete their work effectively.

If you like to discuss how best to teach troubleshooting skills in a way that focuses on the trainee and hard data by creating a comprehensive training program, reach out today to sales@simutechmultimedia.com.

 

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