Virtual Instructor-Led Training Means Big-Time Benefits to Mining Equipment Operators.
By Kristin Stires
Need to know how to correctly check the track sag on your mining excavator? What about how to discharge the accumulators in a hydraulic system? Want to complete classes to expand your certification? Hitachi mining product experts are ready to answer all these questions and more through a new Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) experience.
From their training center in Davenport, Iowa, Hitachi mining product experts are educating Hitachi customer and dealer technicians located throughout North and South America. This allows technicians to attend training from any location as long as they have a laptop with internet connection.
“Due to the expansion of global markets, we needed a new training method to reach more people and offer additional learning opportunities,” said Kendall Mattson, instructional team lead for Hitachi Mining Products – Americas. “Our goal was to create an interactive training experience for customer and dealer technicians that meets and, in some cases, may exceed our current instructor-led training.”
Mattson and his team feel they have achieved this goal with VILT. These online training sessions use live-streaming video, interactive activities, poll questions and testing to ensure student engagement and participation. A technician’s time is highly valuable, and this type of training allows the Hitachi team to more easily accommodate a dealer or customer’s busy schedule while reaching a larger, widespread audience.
“It allows us to create more opportunities on a global basis to train people,” Mattson said. “We’re a lean organization and it has become challenging to meet the growing demand for the number of training requests we receive. So, we’re taking a different approach by offering the VILT experience.”
The VILT classroom is actually an advanced production studio packed with technology. This includes a TriCaster video production system, multiple monitors, a green screen, lights and an Elmo document camera that can zoom-in live on drawings, machine parts and components. This allows for better visibility with different angles for technicians to learn from. The instructor can easily monitor and interact with students in real-time through the students’ web cams.
Brent Leopold, senior instructional designer, is the technology expert who produces each session and makes sure everything runs smoothly in the studio. He mentioned that adaptability is the name of the game for training to be successful.
“With the technology, we have the ability to do a lot of different things during the sessions,” Leopold said. “We also have a camera out in the shop that we can always cut to if we need to demonstrate something live on a machine. Or we may cut to a shot of a schematic – it’s whatever works best for the scenario.”
Mattson has been pleased with the outcome of the sessions they have offered so far.
“We set the bar high from the start, and I believe we reached our goal with the level of engagement and interaction we have seen in the sessions we have offered,” he said. “With changes in technology over the last few years, we’re able to meet the same goals and expectations as an in-person, onsite training. Since it’s live, the students’ questions help drive what we cover in class. It’s their class; they own it. If they want to learn more about the operation or repair of a certain item, we’ll discuss it more in-depth.”
Throughout the sessions, Leopold is behind-the-scenes monitoring and making adjustments to best support class content, camera angles and visual aids, as well as instructors and students.
“On the backend, we have algorithms to measure student engagement so we can adapt the material and class experience to that,” he said.
Patrick Hathaway, instructor for Hitachi Mining Products – Americas, summed up the VILT program benefits.
“We’re able to conduct training at a lower cost for the dealers and customers,” Hathaway said. “There’s a lower cost for the course and no one has to travel to a training event. It’s saving them time and money. It’s more interactive, and we’re able to provide more training opportunities.”
Hathaway said the team looks forward to building and refining the training program as a win-win for Hitachi mining and its dealers and customers. There’s only one small caveat.
“With the green screen, sometimes you feel like a weatherman,” Hathaway laughed.
This article first appeared in Hitachi’s BREAKOUT magazine, Summer 2020 issue.