Virtual reality (V.R.) technology has been available on the market for a decade, but only recently has it become accessible for industrial purposes. The technology’s use within various industries, including packaging, is growing.

“By extracting 3-D data from the machine construction and combining it with the interactivity of gaming platforms, a completely new learning experience can be created where operators can be trained in a simulated environment,” said Kelly Meer, horizontal form/fill/seal product manager, Bosch. “Offering such off-site training provides many attractive benefits for mid to large industrial bakeries.”

Bosch introduced V.R. technology for off-site training for machine operators. With V.R., operational performance can be monitored without stopping the machine for training. As a result, end users can carry out important maintenance steps in the virtual environment and become familiar with maintenance without taking any risks during running production.

“But most importantly, operators enjoy learning how to operate the machine using V.R., and this new learning experience fuels their motivation to increase their knowledge,” he said. “Training your staff on how to improve accessibility to critical machine parts and boost changeover times helps to prevent machine downtime and supports a higher overall equipment effectiveness.”

One key issue mid- to large-scale bakeries face is the fact their production floors are scattered around the world and often in remote locations. Delivering trained specialists to a facility is costly and time-consuming and can negatively impact the bottom line. V.R. training offers flexibility, allowing customers to manage the time, location and size of the training sessions.

Kwik Lok is developing V.R. services and sees the direct benefit for business, especially in technical services.

“Bakers are becoming increasingly open to it,” said Ron Cardey, vice-president of marketing for Kwik Lok. “Part of it is generational. Part of it is how easy it is to use as well. It can also enhance the speed in which you can assist a customer. Instead of having to jump on a plane, you can do it virtually.”

Advances in technology like Industry 4.0 and robotics are helping bakers achieve their processing goals. And more is sure to come with the International Baking Industry Exposition in 2019.

This article is an excerpt from the December 2018 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on packaging innovations, click here.