Category Archives: Rail

img

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.

blog1

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.

Share

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.
hololens1
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.

hololens2

hololens3
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:

hololens5

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.

hololens6

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.

hololens7

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/

Share
NTAR_009

Bridging the Rail Industry’s Skills Shortage with Innovation

There is a growing skills shortage across the UK within the various fields of engineering, science and manufacturing. Nowhere is this more evident than the rail industry. Cutting edge training technology using virtual and augmented reality can help to recruit new workers into the rail industry, get them up to speed rapidly and encourage them to remain within that organisation for the duration of their career.

The truth about the skills shortage

In NSARE’s Traction & Rolling Stock (T&RS) Skills Forecasting report 2015, issues such as an ageing workforce, low numbers of graduate workers and apprenticeships, and lack of gender diversity were flagged as major concerns for the future of this part of the rail industry.

The study identified that:

- Of the current workforce, 3% are apprentices and less than 1% are engineers under the age of 25.

- Women make up 4% of the existing workforce.

- Around 35% of workers are set to retire between 2015 and 2025.

In the T&RS sector alone, the report forecasts that 8,000 new workers are needed over the next decade. So how can the rail industry find these people, recruit them and train them effectively? At PAULEY, we’re taking on that challenge.

Engaging new employees using innovation & interactive technology

Our bespoke and award-winning immersive courses and virtual reality suite at the National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR) in Northampton have already modernised and converted over 4,000 pages of traditional paper based courses into engaging learning experiences.

Now, learners can physically experience the pitch and roll of vehicle dynamics, and reach inside an engine to identify individual nuts, bolts and bearings in a safe, fully digital environment. As a result, training costs and speed to competency have been reduced while consistency and quality have been enhanced. Learners now have on-demand access to training whenever they need it, on a variety of devices.

“It was essential for us to adopt this kind of innovative technology,” says Simon Rennie, General Manager at NTAR. “It provides not only the impact factor required for a flagship training organisation, but also delivers highly portable content that can be delivered consistently and at high quality at multiple locations. The approach has allowed us to invest predominantly in content (as opposed to hardware) and it has been a pleasure working with PAULEY who have provided intuitive and hugely engaging learning material.”

For each traditionally classroom-based training course that’s digitised and brought online, £10,000-£25,000 will be saved by avoiding cross-country travel, automating course content and reducing the need for depot-based use of trains and machinery.

We’re also keen to help convert people from the automotive and aerospace industries, and to find new ways of working with the Armed Forces to encourage highly qualified personnel leaving the military to consider—and suitably train for—a career in rail.

NTAR_042

 Only the best for new recruits

The poaching of staff is an enduring issue, and proof that rail organisations need to stay ahead of the game. Cutting-edge training technology will help keep your staff engaged and committed to your organisation. Plus, being seen as innovative and forward thinking by outsiders will make any organisation more desirable to young people planning to enter the industry.

And once those new recruits are captured, accelerating their induction (especially for apprentices and new entrants to the rail industry) is an easy way to save costs and effectively plug the skills gap.

New entrant effectiveness can take over 18 months, but a mix of online and hands-on training can transform the way recruits are engaged from the very first moment they enter the rail industry. A gamified approach makes learning fun and, as a result, more memorable. Times are changing, and endless hours in the classroom wading through folders of printed manuals are no longer an effective way to motivate or teach tech-savvy trainees from the “gaming generation”.

For rail organisations investing in new training technology, value-for-money is paramount. But at the same time, the quality of learning experience is vital to the success of the project.

A gamified approach to even the most theoretical subject matter will make any experience immersive, enjoyable, memorable, and drive trainees to take charge of their own learning.

If this is something your organisation is considering, get in touch for a chat or to arrange to see a demonstration of what we can do. You can also check out our brand new AR & VR Resource Centre for the latest applications related to STEM subjects. We look forward to hearing from you!

Share