The South African Sugar Association (SASA) Shukela training centre has implemented an augmented-reality welding training solution in line with its 4th Industrial Revolution strategy. SASA operates in rural areas providing employment and training to assist businesses to cultivate and supply sugar.
Evesh Maharaj of the Sugar Association of South Africa (SASA), explains: “As we are moving into the 4th Industrial Revolution there is a need for training providers to modernise and equipment themselves with the changes taking place in all industries. The Soldamatic welding simulator offers training officers and learners the opportunity to constantly upscale their capabilities without the costs associated with such activities.”
He says the reason for choosing the Soldamatic was based on the cost comparison to similar products available. “The Soldamatic offered the best value for money, and back-up service, compared to the other products. Soldamatic also offers constant internet updating of the software being used on our product.”
“We had an immediate cost saving benefit. Less electricity consumption, less material wastage and depending on the learner numbers, the classroom serves as an extra workshop.”
Mr Maharaj says that future cost benefits are a major factor. “With an anticipated increase in simulator numbers, training costs will start to decline. An increase in student numbers is also anticipated as training methods improve and modernisation begins to take place.”
Bez Sangari, MD of Sangari Education, adds: “Education 4.0 aligns with Industry 4.0 and aims to prepare students for the next industrial revolution which will happen in their lifetime. We believe it is time to bring education into the 21st century. This involves flexible, tailor-made curricula, taught by teachers who become mentors to their students, treated as individuals.”
“Giving the workforce of tomorrow the correct tools to become active, lifelong learners, can create a society where every person understands and plays to their strengths, building a self-sustaining model for education rather than one based just on knowledge,” he explains.
He estimates that the blue collar skills shortage in South Africa is estimated at around one million jobs. To meet this demand, training is essential, but the machinery needed is expensive. Providing theory and no practical training is insufficient.
“To address this, the widely-acclaimed Soldamatic augmented-reality welding simulator provides a cost-effective alternative to traditional training. It offers the same level of skills training but with significant cost saving that can run into millions of rands per annum. This is an example of Education 4.0 in action,” he says.
The Soldamatic simulator, which won top honours at the Worlddidac Awards for the most innovative educational product, requires no costly welding consumables and reduces training time by half. Consumables such as welding rods, steel plates or oxygen are not needed, and because the equipment has no gas emissions, it is eco-friendly.
In addition, the simulator can be used in any environment with no need for special clothing or ventilation. The welding can be done in a classroom or even in an office. It is 100% safe, simply because it provides a augmented-reality welding environment. The system is based on augmented-reality 3-D vision through the trainee welder’s headgear.
“Payback for a large training institution is about 18-24 months. The quick payback period is achieved because no consumables are used and there is no wastage of materials,” says Mr Sangari.
The simulator consists of a hardware unit the size of a standard PC, with a built-in screen that allows the trainer to view the student’s progress in real-time, as well as the student’s welding process being recorded. The trainee wears the virtual-reality headgear which simulates a real-world welding environment.
The headgear generates realistic welding graphics such as the weld pool and beam. It emits simulated smoke, sparks and heating of the affected area, all through the student’s headgear. It also simulates cracks, filler material, gravity and undercutting.
Welding skills can be learnt for specific applications and the student’s performance measured in a fair, reliable and unbiased manner. The unit includes 93 different training lessons and customised lessons can also be added.
The facilitator and trainee are able to analyse and assess the trainee’s welding performance in a video and evaluate their skills level such as the welding velocity, stick-out, and travel and working angles. The system will also report on each student’s progress and retains a detailed portfolio of their learning progress.