Fish firm in ‘ground-breaking’ virtual reality training

Icelandic Seachill's production line will be used to create a virtual reality environment for training

Fish processor Icelandic Seachill will take part in a “ground-breaking project” to train food and drink manufacturing workers by using virtual reality, after education provider the Grimsby Institute Group won a £90,000 investment from grant funding charitable trust Ufi.

The 3D ‘mixed reality’ training application will use 360° film and audio of Icelandic Seachill production lines, and will form a virtual training environment, Ufi said. Ufi awarded the grant to the Grimsby Institute Group’s project – known as Flavours of Reality – after it called for projects that support workforce skills development in UK manufacturing.

The project will use Microsoft HoloLens technology to allow food manufacturing trainees to test themselves, and learn a wide range of skills within a safe environment, Ufi added.

Ufi chief executive Rebecca Garrod-Waters said: “There is a clear need in the food and drink manufacturing sector to provide up to date, motivational training in ways that meets the needs of learners and of employers.

‘Training for all levels within the industry’

“This includes training for new entrants and enhancing the skills levels and increase vocational competences of existing staff. We believe that Grimsby Institute’s proposed use of mixed reality technologies will facilitate training for all levels within the industry.”

Icelandic Seachill will work with seafood industry body Seafish to create the virtual environment. The immersive training will be more effective than standard training schemes, said Icelandic Seachill, and the project was expected to roll out more widely following trials.

The fish processor’s learning and development advisor Nicola Ritchie said: “We are excited by this new initiative from the Grimsby Institute to train production operatives, technical and quality team and internal auditors using digital technology.

“We rely upon a significant highly trained workforce to maintain our position as market leader. An immersive journey through the food manufacturing process using ‘mixed reality’ will provide high quality training, with real impact.”

Teaching dexterity, precision, interpretation and spatial awareness

Standard training programmes were costly, and require staff to be taken out of the workplace, Ufi said. But, Grimsby Institute will look to meet industry and learner needs with the virtual reality application. It will teach essential manual dexterity, precision, information interpretation and spatial awareness.

Grimsby Institute vice principal Claire Foster said: “Grimsby Institute is situated at the heart of the seafood Industry, and we are delighted to have been selected to lead this ground breaking project, which will transform food safety learning and vocational skills through cutting edge innovation.

“We are proud of our talented academic staff and students, who will be completing the design and development, which places the Institute at the forefront of mixed reality training for the benefit of the food manufacturing industry.”

Meanwhile, in January, the Freight Transport Association revealed that food and drink manufacturers were able to benefit from its fully-funded training and apprenticeship schemes.

Mixed reality training project – at a glance
  • Uses 3D, 360° virtual reality production line
  • Trainees to test themselves and learn on ‘working’ production line
  • Icelandic Seachill production line used to create virtual environment
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