Author Archives: PAULEY

About PAULEY

PAULEY is an internationally-recognised interactive design and innovation consulting firm based in the UK’s high-technology belt. Our expertise is underpinned by a passion for global design culture, and the creative vision of founder and concept designer Phil Pauley (http://www.philpauley.com). PAULEY develop bespoke digital and 3D solutions for brands, from leading-edge concept designs to online communication tools. At the heart of our work is a unique approach to design-led innovation. Our mission is to help companies find new ways to work more sustainably, harmoniously and profitably using the power of digital. From innovative 3D presentations, to futuristic design, to promotional videos that generate social media buzz, visual communications specialist PAULEY helps you create attention-grabbing images that get everyone talking.

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HS2 uses augmented reality to train Old Oak Common station future staff

In a UK-first, the company delivering Britain’s new high-speed rail network is using augmented reality to train the staff who will eventually run the Old Oak Common ‘super hub’ – set to be one of the UK’s busiest and best-connected stations.

Old Oak Common railway station’s initial groundwork has started and full construction will begin later in 2019, but HS2 is harnessing augmented reality (AR) so that the station’s future staff can learn the skills required to make sure one of Britain’s busiest railway stations will run like clockwork from day one.

The pioneering project sees HS2 Ltd partner with high-tech S.M.E., PAULEY; the National College for High Speed Rail; and Inventya. Together they will work with Old Oak Common station designers, specialist engineers WSP, to develop AR training for the station’s future staff.

Serving both HS2 and the Elizabeth line (Crossrail) Old Oak Common is designed to handle approximately 275,000 passengers every day.

HS2 Ltd’s Stations Director, Mike Luddy, said: “To accommodate that number of people in a pleasant, safe and efficient environment, it’s crucial that staff know the station’s workings in detail. The challenge is that Old Oak Common station hasn’t been built yet. So, to train the station’s entirely new workforce with the skills and knowledge they will need, we must innovate.”

“Through this project, which is supported by Innovate UK and the DfT, we’re harnessing the power of digital technology to build Old Oak Common in augmented reality.”

Future staff entering an AR world will be trained in delivering a great customer experience, station maintenance and safety so they can develop the skills to efficiently manage the station before ever setting foot in it.

The AR training will have spin-off benefits for developing Old Oak Common station itself. Trainees can provide feedback to its designers on their experience of running the super hub, so plans can be honed before it is built and help avoid making later and costly changes to the building itself.

PAULEY’s Founder and Managing Director, Philip Pauley, said: “We’re only starting to harness the power of augmented reality. Few people really get what it is and what it can do. The technology we’re bringing to HS2 enables the wearer to see Old Oak Common station in minute detail. It unlocks huge opportunities to explore, test and refine a digital replica of the station years before the passengers arrive.”

WSP Technical Director, John Harding, said: “This technology will enable us to future proof Old Oak Common station design. In future it can be used at other stations not just for training but for all staff following a refurbishment or upgrade.”

National College for High Speed Rail’s CEO, Clair Mowbray, said: “The National College for High Speed Rail is delighted to be part of this collaborative project, which will support the development of training programmes for train station staff using the latest interactive technologies.”

Inventya Project Manager, Andrew Kent, said: “Through the use of immersive technology, their research is set to improve the user experience of future train travellers, and we’re excited to be part of the journey.”

The station will be built on the former Great Western railway depot at Old Oak Common. HS2 is currently working to clear the site and prepare the ground for the start of construction towards the end of 2019.

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UK Rail Industry – the hardest nut to crack!

At PAULEY, we understand the need to demonstrate the context of what we offer in relation to the environment in which we offer it.

The Rail Sector Deal – launched in December 2018 – brings together a number of initiatives that we’re intrinsically associated with.

At its heart, the mutual commitments between the rail industry and the government set out will allow more trains to run per hour by running trains closer together; deliver more frequent services and more seats and cut delays by getting trains moving more quickly after disruption.

The Sector Deal will enable companies to drive innovation, invest in research and development, upskill the workforce and look beyond the UK to export markets worldwide. It provides certainty for the industry with clarity and involvement in shaping investment in our railways for the first time and, through this collaboration between government and businesses, it will provide better railways for the country’s rail customers.

So far so good with some great commitments for a common purpose and putting passengers and safety at the heart of the railway.

Key and relevant commitments of the Sector Deal include:

  • Development and implementation of an Education and People Strategy will strengthen industry’s leadership and digital rail skills, and will improve promotion of the rail sector as a great place to work, attracting talented individuals to ensure a capable and adaptable workforce, now and in the future to have prosperous places throughout the UK;
  • By increasing the growth of SMEs and apprenticeships, we will improve awareness of opportunities, increase the quality and quantity of applications for apprenticeships and improve knowledge and image of the sector with young people, and enhance the Midlands Engine as a world class rail hub and centre of excellence;
  • Building on the publication of the Rail Network Enhancement Pipeline guidance, which sets out how industry can support and influence CP6 delivery plans, the government will agree a mechanism to ensure more active involvement in the development of CP6 renewals plans. This will provide even greater confidence to the rail supply sector to invest in people, skills and research & development; and
  • Improved export performance doubling by 2025, through:
    • A UK rail supply chain capability map to identify strengths and weaknesses.
    • An analysis of overseas opportunities, barriers and to provide local market rail sector overviews.
    • An export mentoring and secondment programme.

The Sector Deal is critical to the success of the industry. For us at PAULEY, we are interested in three things from the Sector Deal:
-Skills
-SME initiatives
-Exports

Our challenge to Govt and leading industry employers is to make good on your promises and commitments. Our industry is awash with fantastic reports, reviews and white papers – however, the reality of life is that the industry needs to address some significant cultural issues around doing things differently. Indeed Keith Williams himself states that his Review is the 31st Government Review of the Railway in the last few decades or so. Why should his be different if the previous 30 haven’t changed the approach?

Addressing each of those initiatives in turn.

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Skills

We know what we do with technology vastly improves trainer and trainee efficiency, both in terms of money spent on training, costs saved and trainee knowledge retention. This has been demonstrably evidenced by improvements up to 30% vs conventional training methods. Neil Robertson, Chief Executive of NSAR Ltd, is forever eulogising about how skills improvements and training can deliver 15% productivity improvements. So why don’t more large employers adopt a better way of training their people?

We have heard from numerous clients that they want to adopt innovative technologies and that they want to change the way they train their staff in order to drive efficiencies across their business but that they have no budget. It seems that industry is hungry for change, but they are being restricted in delivering that change. Currently, unless it is a specific tender requirement to adopt these new practices then it is not happening.

At PAULEY we are leading the way with our recently won Innovate UK/DfT project delivered in partnership with HS2, WSP, NCHSR and Inventya. Developing and delivering a unique digital twin environment of Old Oak Common Station for use in training, station management and improving the customer experience. Innovate UK/DfT are passionate about delivering growth into the UK economy and through the First of a Kind fund are breaking ground in rail innovation. This pioneering project is a new paradigm in training using spatial computing and real time data. This project utilises cutting edge technology and will deliver significant improvement results, but the challenge now is to commercialise the success of this ground-breaking project and up sell the resulting product into organisations like Network Rail. But this in itself brings significant challenges.

SME

At PAULEY we are an SME, employing less than 50 people. We are passionate about what we do, we’re extremely good at it and we work hard to keep our competitive advantage. And yet, trying to get a service agreement from large employers in the industry has proved frustratingly beyond us. They are happy to procure through a framework with a large supplier that brings limited additional value to our offer, and to us, this seems wasteful and poor use of public funds. So why can’t more procurement departments offer flexible contracts to SMEs to harness that innovation and flexibility?

Over the last 5 years, we have worked hard to forge a relationship with Network Rail and Tier 1’s, we have been invited to many different meetings and supported these companies at wide-reaching events(free of charge) all the while hoping for lasting partnership and growth opportunities to be afforded to us.

We have joined various membership organisations, attended innumerable industry events and got involved with many government initiatives. We’ve been advised that joining various SME frameworks would position us in the right way to be procured by these companies, only to discover once time and money has been invested in joining, that Management don’t know about them or are unable to procure us through them.

We have partnered with many Tier 1 organisations in their pursuit of large contracts across the rail industry and beyond. We have provided expertise and innovative solutions for their tender submissions all with no guarantee of any being engaged to deliver the work once the tender has been won. On a number of occasions, we have provided our services in this way (again for free!) only to be told once the tender has been won that any innovation on the project will be delivered using internal teams – we have added value, exposing our IPR and unique methodologies and provided the differentiator that they need to be successful in the tendering process and we have no guarantee of any ongoing work. Exclusivity is often requested as a requirement of our engagement in this process and we are often asked to provide unlimited access to our background IPR.

We don’t mean to sound a little gloomy! We are doing great work in the industry and have made some long-lasting partnerships which we hope will deliver real innovation across the network through CP6 and beyond. We would simply like to see a greater commitment from the industry to engage SME’s and to treat them as a fair and equitable partner. A commitment from Network Rail to ensure that named sub-contractors/tender partners are used throughout project delivery would be a fundamental game-changer for SME’s like us.

At PAULEY we understand that trying to sell innovation into an organisation which is rightly very risk-adverse will always pose challenges – but there should be a structure in place to help not only SME’s like us but also to help risk-averse organisations to innovate and engage SME’s.

Over the years, we have found that the biggest blocker to innovation is management and trainers unwilling or unskilled to change. The fact that the innovations we propose would deliver unrivalled efficiencies and cost savings to their businesses seems to be lost in a haze of ‘what does these mean for me personally’. Training often seems to be bottom of the priority pile with Management at times reluctant to train staff for fear of losing them to rivals once training has been paid for, but this is counterproductive.

We would love to see SME representatives with Network Rail and Tier 1’s to ensure a fair playing field. We would love to see more accountability – more departments willing and actively encouraged to deliver true innovation and a universal self-motivated approach to upskilling.

We often hear, ‘this is fantastic but where have you used it on the network’. We deliver truly ground-breaking, cutting edge innovations that have yet to be delivered across the network. Without Network Rail or Tier 1s taking the leap into innovative practices, these will never be seen widespread across the network. It seems we are caught in the problem experienced by the next generation today – you can’t get a job without experience and can’t get experience without a job! This vicious circle has transferred into the innovation marketplace.

It seems to us here at PAULEY that everyone wants to be first to be second…no one wants to be the first to implement true innovative solutions that deliver real results, especially if ‘boots on the ground’ aren’t confident to use it.

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Export

When it comes to exports, we’re really punching above our weight. We recently opened the day’s trading at the London Stock Exchange with our Saudi partners. We’ve signed an MoU to work in Saudi Arabia with HRH Prince Abdulaziz Bin Faisal Al Saud and Future Solutions Group CEO, Mohammed Mutabagani.

We are excited by the Saudi vision and their willingness to innovate – something that we have not seen in the UK market. We are forging strong relationships in the region and are establishing a joint venture with Saudi Arabia focussed on the Saudi 2030 Vision. It is a shame that the passion and drive seen overseas has not yet been seen in the UK.

We are continuing our global quest to reskill and upskill today’s and tomorrow’s workforce in its use of digital technology. What is evident is that the desire to upskill the UK’s rail workforce is not unique. All nations are seeking more efficient ways of meeting their railway obligations and driving greater productivity in the way they educate and train their workforce. We have contributed to the largest rail conference and exhibition across the Middle East, North Africa, Indian Subcontinent and Central Asia – Middle East Rail – where we have joined high-level executives from all around the world for an event packed with inspiration, ideas and networking at the highest level. We sit on the brink of a new dawn in railway technology. Now, more than ever, disruptive forces are reshaping the competitive landscape. Middle East Rail brought together the biggest global innovators, futurists and gurus that have exploded onto the railway landscape in recent years to inspire. PAULEY is positioning itself at the forefront of the industry and working with companies overseeing major projects and initiatives to demonstrate our commitment to the region.

We do all this because of our own initiative with little UK government intervention. So why isn’t it easier for companies like Network Rail and large Tier 1’s to support companies like ours and to drive exports up as claimed and promised?

We survive through adversity regardless. But we do wonder how many innovative start up’s have fallen by the wayside as a result of the challenges faced. We don’t get wrapped up in bureaucracy, inefficient processes, archaic systems, unrealistic procurement demands or hampered by an attitude of extreme risk aversion.

This is a cultural issue. One of leadership and more agile management. A culture that is responsive to current events and technologies, one that is not fearful of trying to do something different.

If UK rail wants to do everything it says in the Sector Deal, it will need to re-address its approach and culture to make it happen.

Otherwise, we’ll be here signing off yet another glossy government review with no notable improvement.

At PAULEY we absolutely ‘get’ the need to be collaborative.

Progress isn’t just about technology. It’s about creating cultural change. At PAULEY it’s what we do.

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A further SME response to the Williams Report

In our initial response to the call for evidence for the Williams Rail Review we spoke about the necessity to create and understand the environment in which companies like PAULEY need to be able to operate, with creativity; with innovation; seeking productivity improvements and being encouraged to do so by the big players and by Government. This is why the Sector Deal and Williams Review are critical – they provide that context, the environment where companies like PAULEY can succeed, without barriers to entry or progress, for the good of the industry, its passengers, its customers, its workers and the government. We stated that we believe that promoting SME Champions in the industry will encourage greater innovation, more creativity and higher levels of improvement in the way the railway operates. If we get it right the Williams Review and the Rail Sector Deal will effectively interconnect the rail industry with the ever-evolving UK digital mobility network.

This blog constitutes the response from PAULEY to the second call for evidence issued in March 2019. This response focuses mainly on the four questions in the Call for Evidence: Objectives and assessment criteria paper, as well as on the other evidence papers published alongside it. This response should be read in conjunction with our response submitted in January 2019.

THE EVIDENCE PAPERS SUMMARISE THE KEY THEMES AND EVIDENCE ON WHICH THE RAIL REVIEW WILL DRAW IN THE SUBSEQUENT PHASES OF OUR WORK. ARE THERE OTHER THEMES OR AREAS OF EVIDENCE THAT WE SHOULD CONSIDER? IF SO, WHAT ARE THEY?

While the evidence papers provide a comprehensive overview of the existing circumstances within the rail industry, they do not explicitly touch upon the urgent need to adopt greater use of modern technology and the urgency on moving the skill base of the industry forward. This is such a critical aspect of productivity improvement and a significant driver of performance, wider economic growth, investment and higher economic value jobs: in 2018, the economic value of the rail supply chain alone (not including the wider rail industry) was over £15 billion, supporting some 250,000 jobs. With the right conditions, the development of the workforce can be seen as a major attraction point for new entrants to the industry, as well as providing a boost for productivity levels.

HAS THE RAIL REVIEW IDENTIFIED THE RIGHT HIGH-LEVEL OBJECTIVES AS SET OUT IN CHAPTER 2?

PAULEY believes that proposed objectives need to reflect how the workforce can be developed to enable and promote the Digital Revolution in rail. There is little commentary in the Objectives concerning the vital role the workforce has in meeting the Objectives for Passengers, Taxpayers and the wider society, and yet, they are a fundamental piece of the jigsaw. If we cannot train and educate our workforce in current and future technologies of the 21st century, we risk falling into the trap of “if we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always got” (i.e. decreasing productivity and stakeholder satisfaction levels).

HAS THE RAIL REVIEW IDENTIFIED THE KEY ISSUES CONSTRAINING THE SUCCESS OF THE RAILWAY IN CHAPTER 3? WHAT RELATIVE PRIORITY WOULD YOU PLACE ON THEM?

PAULEY generally agrees with the issues set out in the Summary Problem Statement. In addition, there are some key areas that complement what has been mapped.

We need a 50-year strategy and vision for the rail industry overseen by a guiding mind independent from the Government. The rapid pace of change in technology means that the railway cannot afford to get left behind, and a team within that independent body could be deployed to earmark future technology areas to be developed and implemented.

Our analysis has demonstrated that by adopting blended learning (Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Realities, as well as e-learning techniques) in the delivery of training, savings in the region of 30% + can be realised (Calculating the cost savings of blended learning). This excludes the carbon reductions that can be achieved by NOT sending staff to training centres in other parts of the country. What is critical for the industry is the adoption of productivity improvement measures, and the creation of a Digital Academy for training across all employers in the industry, that uses digital means to train digital subject areas is one such area.

Digitisation is the key to driving efficiencies across the industry. It allows staff at all levels to use and reuse digital information for training; maintenance and delivery purposes, enabling better communication between stakeholders at all locations and ensuring that the right information is available to the right person at the right time.

The current boom and bust investment cycles and the lack of visibility of the work plan, introduces considerable inefficiencies, which makes it difficult for employers to take a long-term view of workforce development and skills investment. It causes employers to gear up for surges in work through the training and recruitment of skilled engineers, only to have to either release the individuals when work drops off, or to hold on to them even if no work is available in anticipation of future work. This makes it very difficult to drive productivity into the business and to reduce costs.

In the very near future, and as the Digital Railway programme is mobilised, the industry will be constrained by availability of people with the necessary skills. The recruitment, training and efficient deployment of people in the industry therefore needs to be addressed as part of the ‘guiding mind’ function, because the market (due to the ‘boom and bust’ nature of work) is not incentivised to do so to a sufficient degree.

DO THE BROAD ASSESSMENT CRITERIA IN CHAPTER 4 CAPTURE THE RIGHT ISSUES AGAINST WHICH THE REVIEW SHOULD TEST ITS PROPOSALS? WHAT PRIORITY SHOULD WE ATTACH TO EACH AND HOW SHOULD WE BALANCE TRADE-OFFS? ARE THERE OTHER ISSUES WE SHOULD CONSIDER?

PAULEY generally agrees with the various assessment criteria set out in the second call for evidence. However, we believe the following should also be considered under “Affordability”:

Productivity and efficiency must develop a set of productivity measures that the industry can agree on, including an enhanced regime of training and skills development of the workforce using modern digital techniques and the wider sharing of resources and facilities to maximise utilisation. We don’t need any more shiny new Training centres, regardless of what Ministers might want for their next photo opportunity! This might be achieved through the mandating of a certain number of training days per person employed on contracts, such that we are training constantly and not sporadically, driving efficiency and productivity into everyday activities.

In addition, under System Changes, we believe the following:

There should be a reference to the need for a long term, 50 year, technology driven, strategy which sets out the purpose and expectations of how the railway can adapt to new technology and hence to the digitalisation of rail. A key output from any System Change should be to build a system which both enables digitalisation of the industry, a more productive and digitally enabled workforce and all the benefits arising from it.

Our workforce will need training more than ever before. Because the pace of change in technology is compounded by the desire to do things better, faster, more efficiently. So you have a compound effect of technology change and hunger to be the first; to be the best; to be the market leader. We understand all this at PAULEY. We understand that you need to train people effectively, efficiently and quickly. Which is what we do.

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An agile SME response to the Williams Report

At PAULEY, we understand the need to demonstrate the context of what we offer in relation to the environment in which we offer it.

The recently announced Rail Review, led by independent chair Keith Williams, has been established to recommend the most appropriate organisational and commercial frameworks to support the delivery of the Government’s vision for the railway of having a world-class railway; working as part of the wider transport network and delivering new opportunities across the nation. Established by the Transport Secretary, the Rail Review will recommend the most appropriate organisational and commercial frameworks to support the delivery of this mission.

As a technology focused SME, PAULEY have focused on embedding themselves into the rail industry and we try to play an active role in shaping the development of both the industry and the delivery of training within it.  Our attention has always been on the development, implementation and adoption of new and emerging technologies that help drive the productivity story. But we do need to put this into context.

In practice this means understanding two things; the first is what is happening at a sector level, so what’s the direction the industry is heading in and how do we play a part in shaping that. The second is what is happening outside our sector that can influence the environment in which we operate.

First, let’s examine what the rail industry is planning, as a result of it’s recently announced Sector Deal with Government.

The Rail Sector Deal
The Rail Sector Deal sets out a new approach to the rail industry and the Government working in partnership to transform the rail sector by taking actions to increase the use of digital technology, boost productivity, improve the service received by those who use our railways and build the skills of the UK workforce to capitalise on these opportunities.

Digital technology is at the centre of this Sector Deal – digital signalling and traffic management systems are the core components for resolving the capacity problems on the current network. The Government and industry will work together to set out a clear plan for digital signalling and traffic management interventions, which will enable industry to invest in the necessary skills and resources to deliver passenger and freight capacity and reliability for the long-term. The adoption of innovations; accelerated Industry Collaborations and the uptake of ideas are key to the success of the UK Industrial Strategy and it’s four grand challenges covering all sectors of UK business.

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Advanced control systems, energy management, high value rolling stock systems, whole life asset optimisation, through life management and enhancing the customer experience are all areas of UK strength or potential. The supportive infrastructure for successful innovation has improved and the Rail Sector Deal will look to expand the space for innovation.

The challenges are clear, but as the adoption of new digital technologies accelerates and new investment increases, there is an opportunity to present the railway to a new generation of potential employees as the dynamic, attractive, futuristic industry that it is.

Formal institutions like the National College for High Speed Rail, the National Skills Academy for Rail and the National Training Academy for Rail are complemented by increasing numbers of rail facilities in the higher education and further education sectors, particularly the successful UKRRIN programme. Finally, no conversation would be complete without mention of the Network Rail Training programme and the impressive facilities at their Workforce Development Centres.

Furthermore, Andrew Haines, Chief Executive Network Rail recently stated “We need operators with top-notch competence and experience, excellent leadership skills and a system-overview that enables them to work effectively together to deliver the best outcome for passengers”.

Neil Robertson, CEO NSAR recently commented “To improve our productivity, we need to invest in new technology and in skills. In the UK we have historically underinvested in both.”

If we are to sustain the existing network and take on board and reap the benefits of digital technology, then we need to address the skills shortage. One of the core delivery plans within the Rail Sector Deal is that we invest in our people and our skills. Digital Rail skills are fundamental to the future success of the railway and feature heavily in the commitments and milestones, including looking at the possibility of a Digital Skills (virtual) Academy for the industry, mandating skills and apprenticeships through procurement contracts and developing a single industry platform to recruit, promote and support rail careers.

At PAULEY we are supporting all of these initiatives and more through our continued involvement in and support of the Williams Review; the Rail Sector Deal and our work with the Rail Supply Group.

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We understand the key role of immersive technologies in moving the industry forward and preparing for the 4th industrial revolution. We pride ourselves on our ability to equip our customers and their workforce with the systems and processes that help drive efficiencies throughout their business which in turn provides a better service to their customers.

Technology shift and compound growth
We live in a changing and dynamic world where technological shift is of paramount importance.  PAULEY are pioneering the use of innovative technologies across the UK Rail Industry and beyond, delivering efficiencies and improved business performance to meet the needs of this challenging environment for all key stakeholders. From Training to Maintenance and Fault Finding, our collaborations across the industry are pivotal in introducing ground-breaking, innovative, digital ways of working and to creating a modern workforce for a modern industry.

The World Economic Forum’s Chief Economist, Jennifer Blanke, points out:

Our lives are being shaken to their very core by technological change, with the Fourth Industrial Revolution transforming economies as never before. The unprecedented speed of change, as well as the breadth and the depth of many radical changes unleashed by new digital, robotic and 3D technologies, is having major impacts on what we produce and do, how and where we do it and indeed how we earn a living. And while the transformation will proceed differently in advanced and developing parts of the world, no country or market will be spared from the tidal wave of change.
If we are to seize the opportunities, and avoid the pitfalls of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we must consider carefully the questions that it raises. We must rethink our ideas about economic and social development, value creation, privacy and ownership, and even individual identity. We must address, individually and collectively, moral and ethical issues raised by cutting-edge research in artificial intelligence and biotechnology, which will enable significant life extension, designer babies, and memory extraction. And we must adapt to new approaches to meeting people and nurturing relationships.

Better diagnostic and predictive systems on dated infrastructure leads to targeted maintenance, leading to less human interventions. In rail, software will control our operations to an even greater extent than they do now. We’ll need less people doing the same roles as today, but we’ll still need the people. They’ll just be doing different things.

And those people will need training more than ever before. Because the pace of change in technology is compounded by the desire to do things better, faster, more efficiently. So you have a compound effect of technology change and hunger to be first, to be best, to be the market leader. We understand all this at PAULEY. We understand that you need to train people effectively, efficiently and quickly. Which is what we do.

We also understand that the environment in which companies like PAULEY need to be able to operate, with creativity; with innovation; seeking productivity improvements and being encouraged to do so by the big players and by Government. This is why the Sector Deal and Williams Review are critical – they provide that context, the environment where companies like PAULEY can succeed, without barriers to entry or progress, for the good of the industry, the Government, its workers and above all its passengers. We believe that promoting SME Champions in the industry will encourage greater innovation, more creativity and higher levels of improvement in the way the railway operates. If we get it right, the Williams Review and the Rail Sector Deal will effectively interconnect the rail industry with the ever-evolving UK digital mobility network.

If you feel it is time take action, we are ready to help. Contact PAULEY today on [email protected].

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Fault Finding in Augmented Reality

Calculating the cost savings of blended learning

At PAULEY, we understand the need to demonstrate the economic argument of doing something different. That’s why we’ve devised a method for understanding the cost differential between traditional, face-to-face (death by PowerPoint) training, and a more blended learning approach using Immersive Technology (Mixed Reality).

Our COST SAVINGS CALCULATOR aims to estimate the total cost of your current training that could be replaced with Blended Learning (VR / AR / Cad Enabled E-Learning) and provide an example price to develop a blended learning solution. This provides an illustration of cost savings, to help highlight the business case when compared with traditional learning and show the return on investment over time.

We look at a number of different features of your company’s training profile that includes the following key elements:

  • Estimated, total training time – By entering the typical roles or training courses that require to be trained with the number of people in each role / course and hours of training per role / course per annum, we can then calculate the total number of training hours that you currently deliver.
  • Replaceable training time – Here we document the percentage of the total training time that you require to be replaced with blended learning, which will typically be an assumption at the early stages.
  • Estimated training cost – This is the average cost per day that you currently incur when delivering your existing training programme, these costs include (but are not limited to) staff; trainers; overheads; hire and maintenance of a venue, travel costs, lost productivity etc.
  • Estimated fixed costs – This is the total fixed cost to deliver your annual training, relating mainly to capitalised assets or indirect cost.
  • Blended learning development cost – Here we can select an option from a dropdown menu to select a Level (either Gold, Silver or Bronze). A detailed breakdown of what is provided for each level can be viewed by clicking the relevant link within the calculator. This will provide an average cost for each level.
  • Estimated saving – Our results table shows you the estimated training and fixed costs saved over 1 to 5 years based on the costs you have entered, and the percentage of training replaced by blended learning.
  • Estimated savings over time – Our results graph shows you the illustrated total costs saved over 1 to 5 years based on the estimated costs you have entered and the estimated percentage of training replaced by blended learning.

The devil really is in the detail with our cost saving methodology, and as part of it, we assess Direct Trainer time, the extent of refresher training, reduced delegate travel cost, course material production cost and the trainer / delegate ratio for specialist training.

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We also consider how we can avoid future costs, looking at areas such as maintaining capacity without fixed costs, investment in the training asset, lower administration and outcome / data recording, reduced attendance costs, effective quality control and change management.

Finally the benefits extend beyond lower or avoided costs, typically key areas for us include increased user engagement, a more memorable experience, heightened safety awareness (i.e. we can recreate high risk environments), reduced levels of operational impact, sharing of IPR and best practice through licensing and finally, it’s fun, delegates take more knowledge away with them, providing a quicker route to competency; making employees more economically productive and driving increased productivity / efficiencies in maintenance and operations processes.

For an accurate assessment of your requirements please contact us at [email protected] for a full quotation.

At PAULEY we understand that you need to train people effectively, efficiently and quickly. Which is what we do!

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Microsoft HoloLens: Getting your first content onto device

In our last blog post, we showed you how to get started with HoloLens development and set up a development environment. In this post, we will be detailing how to build your first piece of content and deploy it to a HoloLens device. We will also be covering how to construct some interactions using pre-made components contained within the HoloToolkit.
The main aim for this blog post is to get a basic application, that contains two objects and an interactive button which toggles the states of these objects, built and deployed to a device for testing. At the end of this post you will have acquired the basic skills to get a skeleton application built, as well as have access to resources that will help you find and add new features to the existing application.

Creating the main scene
Following on from the last blog post, you should have a project set up with the HoloToolkit imported and ready to use. Before we get started crafting a basic scene to use for building and deployment, navigate to the HoloToolkit example scene folder, as shown in the picture below:

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Let’s start by looking through the “Interactable Object Example” which can be found in “InteractableObject_Examples.unity” unity scene file. Once the scene is opened, head to the accompanying HoloToolkit examples description page: https://github.com/Microsoft/MixedRealityToolkit-Unity/blob/master/Assets/HoloToolkit-Examples/UX/Readme/README_InteractableObjectExample.md

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As can be seen from this scene, there are a number of examples of how to create interactive objects, either by use of a “button”, or through use of the object itself. Try playing the scene to explore how the various interaction styles work. When you are finished exploring the scene, create a new scene and name it “Blog2_MainScene”. You should now have a completely empty scene and are ready to start adding content in.

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The first step is to add the basic necessities for a scene to run on a HoloLens device. Begin by removing already existing Main Camera and add the “MixedRealityCamera” prefab into the scene (Assets/HoloToolkit/Input/Prefabs/MixedRealityCameraParent.prefab). This is a special camera that allows the HoloLens to draw the content over the real world, while clearing the rest of the scene to transparent, allowing the user to see the real world.
Next add the “InputManager” prefab into the scene (Assets/HoloToolkit/Input/Prefabs/InputManager.prefab), this will allow the HoloLens to intercept input events from the device and provide input functionality to scripts that require it.

Finally, bring in the cursor prefab (Assets/HoloToolkit/Input/Prefabs/Cursor/ Cursor.prefab) into the scene hierarchy and attach it to “Simple Single Pointer Selector” script on “InputManager” game object. The cursor will act as the user’s pointer in the scene. Your scene hierarchy should now look as follows:

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Now that you have all the necessary prefabs in the scene, you can begin adding some models that will act as your content. We require 2 models for this scenario, and we will be using the built in Unity primitives, but feel free to use any model at your disposal!
Add a sphere (or any model you have) and place it at (1, 0, 5) in the scene. Next add a cube (or any second model you have, it must be different to the first) to the scene and place it at (-1, 0, 5) in the world. Your scene and game view should now look as follows:

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For the next step of this tutorial, you are going to create an interactive button which when pressed will hide one object and show the other. Pressing it again will toggle the objects. This example, whilst simple, provides everything you need to start crafting more complex interactions, and will allow you to get started crafting the UI in your application whilst knowing that it will deploy to the HoloLens and function correctly. Given the spatial and holographic nature of HoloLens content, crafting the user interface is one of the most important aspects of development and therefore is often something that should be started first, or in tandem with the first development tasks.

Now add the button that we will use for this, by dragging the “HolographicButton” prefab (Assets/HoloToolkit-Examples/UX/Prefabs/ToggleButton.prefab) into the scene. Position the button at (0, 0, 4) in the world, so that it is placed in between the two models and slightly in front. Your game and scene view should now look as follows:

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Adding Basic Interactivity
Now that you have all of the component’s setup, you can start to add functionality for the button. First select “ToggleButton” game object in the scene and navigate to “InteractiveToggle” component. Here you can find a very similar setup to Unity’s Button component as it uses UnityEvents for all of the interactions with the button. To enable and disable your sphere and cube objects you only need to drag the gameobjects into ‘OnSelection()’ and ‘OnDeselection()’ events and correct ‘GameObject.SetActive’ state as shown in a picture below:

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If everything is setup in order, when you click ‘Play’ button, you will be able to interact with the button and enable and disable the sphere and cube gameobjects. (To control your player inside UnityEditor: ‘WASD’ to move around, hold right mouse button to look around, hold ‘Space’ key and left mouse button to interact).

Build Process
Now that you have created a small scene with some interactivity it is time to build this application. Go to File -> Build Settings and make sure that you still have the correct settings from our previous HoloLens developer blog (http://www.pauley.co.uk/blog/microsoft-hololens-a-developers-kick-start-guide/). Under ‘Scenes In Build’ remove ‘Scenes/SampleScene’ and drag in ‘Blog2_MainScene’ in order for this scene to be included in the build. Click ‘Build’ button, select a folder where you would like the finished build to be put and wait for your first HoloLens application to finish building.

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After Unity build is finished you will need to do a final compile in Visual Studio. Open the folder where you saved your build and open Visual Studio Solution file inside it. In Visual Studio at the top instead of ‘Debug’, ‘ARM’ and ‘Local Machine’ select ‘Release’, ‘x86’ and ‘Device’ for solution configuration.

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When you have the correct settings selected go to Build -> Build Solution, this will kick-off a final part of the building process.
After receiving “Build: succeeded” message you will be able to start deployment onto a device.

Deploy Process
To deploy straight to your device, connect your HoloLens to your PC using a USB cable and select Build -> Deploy Solution, this will begin the process that will transfer the build onto your device.

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The second way of deploying your build is to create an Appx. To do this, right click on your project inside the Solution Explorer and go to: Store -> Create App Packages.

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A new window will open, select option ‘I want to create packages for sideloading’ and on the next page untick ‘x64’ and ‘ARM’ architecture. By clicking on ‘Create’ button Visual Studio you will create an app package that can be installed on any HoloLens device using Device Portal (more information can be found HERE).
After deploying a successful build onto HoloLens, you should be able to launch it and see the same view as was displayed in the editor.

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Now that you have finished, try experimenting some more with your new knowledge to get more familiar on how to build apps for HoloLens. But don’t forget to check back soon for the next part of this tutorial, where we will help you setup various UX utilities to improve ease of use.
We are also planning on running some developer courses in the new year. If you require any help, or would like to get in contact with us regarding developer courses, please contact us or at http://pauley.proboards.com/.

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Digital Rail Sector Deal and the Economics of Skills Development

The launch of the Governments Rail Sector Deal (RSD) saw a number of key initiatives and a vision for the future of the industry unveiled. Delivering the benefits of new digital rail technology is at the heart of this Rail Sector Deal. The Sector Deal will enable companies to drive innovation, invest in research and development, upskill their workforce and look beyond the UK to export markets worldwide.

With a focus on enabling the UK Rail Sector to nurture, empower and retain digitally skilled workers, the RSD is at the heart of the work we do.

The impact of digital transformation in rail cannot be underestimated and it is prudent to assume that 80% of the industry will require some level of training or education over the next 20 years. This equates to around 200,000 workers requiring some form of training or education intervention. NSAR (National skills Academy Rail) has estimated that this market could be worth up to £600m, with a claw back from the Apprenticeship levy approaching £200m. So we are talking about some big numbers here.

By digital skills for rail we mean both the generic digital skill sets and the additional skills existing disciplines will need to fit, optimise and maintain new digital assets. There is already a shortage of both. The existing training market will provide some highly limited numbers of the former – without an equivalent Digital Rail Academy concept the latter will exist mainly in suppliers, who will then monopolise the market at considerable cost to efficiency and jobs. Wage inflation is already at 8.8% in signalling engineers and over 10% in the generic disciplines eg data analysts.

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So something must happen. Here’s the economics logic.

Perhaps appropriately, the economics of training are themselves being transformed by new technology.

Firstly, PAULEY’s enhanced software is increasingly being used to create online, augmented and mixed reality environments that significantly enhance the learning and assessment experience.

Secondly, and related, customers expect training to be delivered in a more flexible way, at their depots, at non-traditional times and with a blend of human and virtual trainers. For example, at NTAR a growing proportion the rolling stock training is delivered via server, laptops and virtual and augmented reality headsets at depots by software and intelligence provided by PAULEY. This has transformed the training economics by reducing the biggest single training cost for existing staff – release costs.

Future academies will be virtual: (Example based on £10M Budget) – instead of spending £7m on a building, £1m on hardware, £1m on staff training and £1m on software, it may be more balanced; £3m on a software platform (designed by industry for industry), £1m on hardware, £2m on staff training and £4m on client onsite training facilities. The overall cost of training supply will not drop or change dramatically but the number of users will be higher, the experience more immersive and the release costs will halve.

So a unit cost of £200 per head per day might become £150 0r £100 per head per day over time, but a release cost of 8 hours for 4 hours training in a centre will be halved as much of the training will come to the worker. The effect of adopting PAULEY technology is already transforming the rail training market today.

Existing industry and treasury productivity work shows that there is currently already a market failure in relevant training, leading to wage inflation and costs of poor capability (rework etc). For the first time these have been modelled at the level of unit costs, at 9% and 6% respectively. Put another way, unit costs are 15% higher, now, than they could be had the investment been made.

Training and skills development is a critical element to increasing productivity. We know this. Implementing new technology and then training staff in new, contemporary skills is a double win, not only at an industry level but also at employer level.

In line with the ethos of the RSD, PAULEY have launched HoloSkills, a new product to convert any training material into next-gen Augmented Reality using Microsoft HoloLens. This platform (and others that PAULEY will deliver with strategic partners) will help the rail industry align and ensure consistency in all areas, from drivers through to maintainers, infrastructure to rolling stock, crew and beyond…

The HoloSkills platform has been tried, tested and refined as a new industry standard at NCHSR and is now ready to revolutionize rail training! HoloSkills is the first in a new line of immersive products PAULEY will launch early next year.

Invest early in the RSD and in PAULEY technology and you’ll notice the difference. Not only economically, but also from an engagement and an immersive learning perspective by delivering improved productivity and driving digital transformation within your organisation.

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Microsoft HoloLens: A developer’s kick-start guide

The world industries are currently in a state of transition with the emergence of digital tech and immersive Mixed Reality (XR) technology. Many systems both new and old, that have been difficult to upgrade to a screen based medium due to lack of usability may now have a clear path to digitisation through the use of XR technology due to many applications making more sense in a spatial medium than a 2D screen.
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Our time developing MS HoloLens experiences for clients has led us to discover a great many tips, tricks that are not that widely known in this exciting new world of XR development. Developing for the MS HoloLens has a great many opportunities but also limitations which may make an inexperienced developer feel that their design and application potential must also be limited.

However, our extensive usage of the platform has made it clear that the limitations are easy to overcome if the proper steps and procedures are known. This encompasses everything from creating experiences optimized for high and stable framerates, all the way to designing user interfaces to take into account and take advantage of the spatial nature of the MS HoloLens.

Over the coming months we will be releasing blog posts aimed at guiding new and experienced developers through the world of MS HoloLens development, with an aim to potentially host scripted live training sessions or developer training events for developers based in the UK or further afield.

Beginner’s Guide Setting up your first MS HoloLens Project

Get the software
In order to get started with MS HoloLens development the following software is required:

Set up Our unity environment for MS HoloLens Development
In order to get started with MS HoloLens development, we need to start a new unity project.

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Once opened, Unity will initially be in “Standalone” platform mode. In order to develop for the MS HoloLens, we need to switch to “Universal Windows Platform”.

To do this go to: File > Build Settings. We are now presented with the platform build dialog. Select the “Universal Windows Platform” and press “Switch platform”. All the assets in the project will now be reimported as the project switches to the UWP platform.

 

 

 

 

 

hololens4Once switched over, change Our settings to
mirror these:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This ensures that we have the correct settings to perform successful optimized builds. The compression method is optional and can also be set to “Default”, however LZ4HC can perform better depending on how assets are compressed.

Acquire and Import the Mixed Reality Toolkit
The Mixed Reality Toolkit (https://github.com/Microsoft/MixedRealityToolkit-Unity) is a set of example scripts and assets to kickstart MS HoloLens development. Without this toolkit, much of the basic functionality such as gaze interaction, cursors, air tap input, spatial mapping and processing will need to be created from scratch. It is therefore recommended by Microsoft and by PAULEY that we always include the latest copy in our project.

There is currently a newer branch of the toolkit in development that is in alpha, however we will want to use the most latest complete version: HoloToolkit 2017.4.2.0 (https://github.com/Microsoft/MixedRealityToolkit-Unity/releases/tag/2017.4.2.0)

Once we have downloaded the toolkit, we need to import the folders into unity. If we have a previous version of the toolkit in the project, it is imperative that we first delete all the folders or we will be very likely to encounter errors upon import.

Once imported we will have the following folders in Our project hierarchy:

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You’re now ready to start development!

We recommend you look at some of the example scenes within the toolkit to get an idea of what working with MS HoloLens will look like.

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We suggest looking into the “SpatialMapping” folder inside of the examples as it contains a number of scenes that will help we learn how to interact with the spatial mapping; including how to place holograms and anchor them, which is one of the most important skills we will be required to grasp in order to develop an AR application.

There is a Unity Scene file in each example folder that allows we to open and run the example.

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Following on from these, another useful set of examples are inside the “Input” and “UX” folders, both contain a great number of scenes for how to model interactions within the application. Check back soon for the next part to this tutorial, where we will guide we through how to set up basic interactions and build and deploy an application to a MS HoloLens device or to the MS HoloLens Emulator.

Now that you have finished, try exploring:

  • The “Input” example scenes in the holotoolkit
  • The “UX” example scenes in the holotoolkit

We hope to be running some developer courses in the new year, on a first come first served basis. If you require any help, or would like to get in contact with us regarding developer courses, please contact us [email protected] or at our forums http://pauley.proboards.com/

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PAULEY deliver NCHSR and HS2 training technology of the future

The recent Skills, Employment and Education Strategy (SEE) document released by HS2 Ltd in October 2018 (https://www.hs2.org.uk/documents/hs2-skills-employment-and-education-strategy/) highlights the critical importance that HS2 will bring to the UK’s infrastructure portfolio, and the vital role that the scheme plays in educating and training the infrastructure and rail workforce in opening up new opportunities.

HS2 and the National College for High Speed Rail (NCHSR) share a common vision – to embrace future technology and to enable tomorrow’s workforce today. Their approach to training focuses on two key areas – how can we deploy tomorrow’s technology today and how do we make the training relevant and engaging?

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Here at PAULEY we as industry leaders also share this vision and have been pioneering the use of Mixed Reality Technologies across the rail industry and beyond – setting the  standard for future training.  We have been changing the face of digital training for railway apprentices and engineers for nearly 5 years and demonstrate how the future of learning in the railway industry is through immersive technologies. Immersive technologies are becoming more affordable, and represent a paradigm shift in how vital technical training can be undertaken in an innovate way that offers students and delegates the opportunity to explore technically challenging scenarios first-hand without the need for expensive and sometimes dangerous equipment. There is a further fundamental point to learning this way – adopting real time data visualisation enables more effective communication with delivery teams and front-line workers, supporting higher safety and productivity levels.

HS2 will be the new high-speed backbone of Britain’s rail network, but it’s much more than just a railway. It is a catalyst for growth: revitalising the country, creating new opportunities for jobs and skills, regenerating towns and cities, and bringing us all closer as a nation.

The employment and economic potential of the HS2 Programme, with an initial opportunity to upskill the UK’s construction workforce, followed by the creation of employment opportunities generated once the railway is operational, is huge. There is a real focus on promoting increased skills and employment via the supply chain to address the skills challenges faced not only by HS2 but also in the wider transport infrastructure sector.

Part of the solution lies in the establishment of the National College for High Speed Rail (NCHSR), which opened in Birmingham and Doncaster in September 2017. The NCHSR provides an industry-led curriculum, delivering the highly skilled workforce needed to deliver the HS2 Programme and the future skills required by the UK’s rail industry. The College acts as a flagship facility for training in the railway industry, helping to attract, educate and train the talent needed by the sector. Learning is strongly focussed on practical teaching, with internal and external workshop, virtual and augmented reality and employer-based work placements.

One of the main safety challenges faced by students is limited access to an operational railway and trackside equipment, especially as it’s dangerous for them to be alongside or on live track or engineering projects without the necessary training, or competencies. In addition, the lecturers of the NCHSR wanted a way to bring the railway into the college, so students could visually see and understand through 3D digital assets, immersive Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality experiences.

This is where PAULEY really excels and is the reason we were selected to work with NCHSR.

For the past 6 months we have been helping the NCHSR improve and augment their teaching material to fit the current generation’s media consumption habits.  Producing a range of training modules using innovative technology such as AR HoloLens headsets, and VR headsets such as the Oculus Rift, our clear aim has been to help the next generation of rail workers learn the modern practises in ways that are as immersive and interesting as possible.

The creation of 3D rail scenes and components aligned to the development of a highly intuitive and immersive Augmented Reality application has enabled students to explore various rail elements and individual components of conventional and high-speed rail. In turn this has enabled them to learn where the componentry is used in the field, what it looks like and listen to the voice-over that provides the learning element of what each component is used for.

The end result is content that is far more interesting and engaging for the end user, which is extremely important in this industry where an untrained professional could lead to security, health and financial risks. By working in this way PAULEY are able to assist HS2, NCHSR and many other clients with achieving their vision of enabling tomorrow’s workforce today.

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Through engaging students with interactive digital assets, the NCHSR and PAULEY have increased the motivation for them to learn. Previous learning assets were simple 2D black and white line drawings and emerging them in a virtual environment and allowing them to learn at their own pace only increases knowledge retention through learning by doing.

Our previous blogs have espoused the need to train new students, in new skills in a new way, that engages, excites and most of all, inspires. What PAULEY are doing with the NCHSR is putting that theory into practice. By creating a new cohort of infrastructure workers, learning in ways that are truly immersive, PAULEY are supporting HS2 and the UK infrastructure sector meet it’s challenges head on.

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