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Thu September 23 2021

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Highway contractors get VR training

29 Jun 18 A new training programme using virtual reality simulators of powered access platforms has made its debut on the M5 Oldbury viaduct project.

VR training has been used for the Oldbury viaduct project
VR training has been used for the Oldbury viaduct project

Contractors have been supplied with simulator boom and scissor lifts, allowing them to rehearse operations before carrying them out for real.

The BMV joint venture of BAM Nuttall, Morgan Sindall and VolkerFitzpatrick has used the virtual reality (VR) technology from Nationwide Platforms to boost the safety of road workers repairing the M5 Oldbury viaduct, five metres above the ground and beneath the viaduct deck.

As work on the Highways England scheme enters its next phase, workers are replacing 2.3km of drainage under the viaduct along with the formwork/shuttering required for concrete repairs. Around 6,000 repairs have been carried out so far.

In addition to supplying mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) for the project, Nationwide Platforms supplied the M5 Oldbury team with the first VR simulators in the UK. The VR training started on the project on 16th April and the team has now trained a total of 33 IPAF-qualified operators and a further 10 staff from BMV. In addition, 17 Highways England staff have also familiarised themselves with MEWP operations via the VR training.

Each VR simulator unit comprises a replica platform basket and control panel, like those used on the real platforms, as well as a full-motion-tracking VR headset. Covering a range of applications – including different ground conditions, restricted access, overhead hazards as well as loading and unloading – the technology allows trainers to provide live feedback on operator skills and general operator behaviour, for safer operation.

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BMV JV project director Nigel Fullam said: “The collaboration shown by the whole project team to bring this training to the M5 demonstrates our commitment to continued improvement and challenging the status quo of traditional plant training.”

Highways England senior project manager Zbigniew Twarowski, said: “A lot of the activity on the project takes place underneath the viaduct. Our teams are working as hard as they can to get the repair work completed as quickly as possible, but it is essential that this is done safely.”

Nationwide Platforms operations director Peter Douglas said: “The ability for operators to make mistakes in a safe and controlled environment not only prepares them for how to react to danger, but also provides them with valuable experience that we feel will reduce the number of potential accidents on site, as well as damage to buildings and equipment.”

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