ThingLink + Fingrid create virtual electricity power station environments for immersive, effective site safety training
Are you looking for a cost-effective, carbon-efficient and safe way to deliver onboarding inductions or safety briefings to new hires? Read how Fingrid partnered with ThingLink to create over 100 virtual safety briefings to ensure that employees can access facility safety instructions at any time. We show how you can use this as the template for your own employee training program and the tools you can use that will solve your training needs.
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Background to the project
Fingrid is the company responsible for the transmission of an uninterrupted electricity supply across the Finnish grid. Electricity producers, electricity-intensive plants and electricity distribution networks are all connected to their nationwide grid.
Safety briefings for new employees are a key part of each local operation teams’ employee training plan. Traditionally Fingrid’s safety briefings have been given face-to-face at 30 power stations located across Finland. As part of the onboarding process, the trainer and the new employee would previously have to travel possibly hundreds of miles to the power station in-person to go through induction materials, which cover on-site mobility, on-site safety and other competencies. These one-to-one training methods were costly both in terms of working hours and mileage. Clearly there was a need for a better method of delivering employee training, with a whole new employee training plan template.
Fingrid and ThingLink develop an initial pilot training programme
To cut down on the time and environmental impact of the onboarding training process, Fingrid started exploring the possibilities of virtual orientation. Initially, they created a short pilot training session using videos taken at the substations. This would then be expanded into virtual tours using 360 images of each substation, linked to create a navigable virtual tour.
ThingLink was chosen as training partner for a number of reasons that were fundamental to their training checklist:
- Optimal experience for both creator and end user: With ThingLink, internal teams can create their own clear, multimedia orientation materials without any previous experience in content production.
- Enterprise-level security: It was essential that the materials could be securely distributed to the right groups within the company. Using ThingLink on the company’s own servers increases security.
- Ease of integration into existing system: Integrating ThingLink into Fingrid’s HR management system also saves time by keeping responses integrated within the system.
The overall functionality of ThingLink as a platform was also praised by an external audit.
Meeting training objectives for individual employee needs
Once the successful pilot had concluded, ThingLink provided a specialist to help capture 360 degree images at each substation. Exterior and interior facilities at all 30 substations around Finland were photographed in 360 aspect, with the images then used to create the ThingLink virtual tours by Fingrid’s team.
The goal was to create an experience that was as authentic and realistic as possible for new employees. New employees can now practice navigating their way around virtual versions of the substation locations in the safest possible way. Within the 360 images, essential information is presented in context using informational text and media tags, which can contain images, videos and even 3D models. Users are also directed to additional information via embedded links in other tags.
Benefits of virtual training courses for employer and employee
As well as saving time on individual staff training by creating the virtual tours, Fingrid also saved time on the tour creation itself by using the same template to create orientation training materials for all substations. They simply replaced the 360 images as required using ThingLink’s useful “replace background” feature. Information in the text and media tags which had also been copied over was then edited if required. The end result is a set of highly user-friendly learning materials, in which employees can easily and quickly move around the premises, return to the initial map view, move to other substations if necessary and find additional information. The consistency between the tours of each substation makes it easy for employees to familiarise themselves with all 30 substations quickly.
The Fingrid team were also able to create versatile induction materials for different target groups, including their own staff, service providers and maintenance personnel. ThingLink’s instant cloning feature means that they can easily edit and adapt different iterations of the original materials to be shown to different target groups.
The main benefit of the ThingLink solution is that all materials are created and edited in-house, allowing organisations to have complete control over their content and updates, whilst still maintaining a high-quality materials with a professional look and feel. This cuts out development time vs. outsourced content production by third-parties which can be costly and time-consuming Updates are rolled out instantly wherever the material is shared.
“ThingLink has been seen as a very good tool – today’s application improves security and makes navigating the substations much easier.”Veijo Siiankoski, Condition Manager, Fingrid. Has worked for Fingrid for 25 years. Responsible for leading the local operation team and for preparedness issues in the network condition management unit.
Contextual learning that sticks
In the virtual site, the user can move logically between the different spaces of the substation as they would do while carrying out the actual work tasks. This contextuality has been proven to be a very effective method of employee training as it helps improve recall of instructions, even under pressure. At all stages of the tour, the user can also easily return to the aerial view, making it easier to navigate and perceive the space and relative position of different areas.
Veijo says that it initially took some time to create clear, high-quality materials as the team considered different solutions. However, the work was streamlined by using the same template to create materials for all substations; for example, the information tag texts could be copied. However any initial investment of time in creating the virtual tours is worthwhile in the long run, as this way many employees can explore the facilities independently.
The end result is truly functional and user-friendly learning materials, in which employees can easily and quickly move around the premises, return to the initial map view, move to other substations if necessary and find additional information.
“ThingLink has been seen as a very good tool – today’s application improves security and makes navigating the substations much easier.”Veijo Siiankoski, Fingrid
Benefits of the new virtual training courses for employer and employees
Each virtual tour is vastly more cost-effective in terms of both time and money than an on-site one. For a large, national company like Fingrid with a target group of about 300 employees and 30 substations, the long term savings are substantial. Running the orientations virtually, Fingrid will also reduce their carbon footprint – an important part of their corporate responsibility aims.
Better work/life balance and flexibility for employees
Virtual tours also make everyday life easier for new employees. They can access the new employee training at a time that suits them – even completing them from home if they wish. This means the training can be undertaken even when employees are working remotely.
Virtual tours can be repeated and revisited by trainees at any time and easily updated
The virtual tours work well for those employees who need to revisit the materials for any reason. This can simply be because time has lapsed since their last substation visit, or if anything has changed at the site, eg new company policies or initiatives.
Automatic certification saves time
The solution also saves time for operational experts who no longer have to record completed learning outcomes in the HR system. Because of the ThingLink integration in Fingrid’s system, the orientations are automatically registered once the user has completed the tutorial.
Overall, the ThingLink virtual implementation streamlines Fingrid’s operations by saving time and money; reducing their carbon footprint by cutting down on employee travel time and increasing safety at substations by increasing employee learners’ knowledge retention and recall.
Positive feedback from all stakeholders
Feedback has been positive, with ThingLink perceived as the ideal platform to use for this type of virtual training. Employees have appreciated the ability to navigate virtually at substations and find out information without having to physically visit the site.
Virtual Tours for Employee Training
For more information and real-life inspiration from ThingLink users on how to create virtual tours for employee training, see our post How to create a virtual 360 tour.
Scenario-base learning: one of the most effective types of employee training
The Fingrid team will next focus on finishing the materials for a few more substations and then on the large-scale use of induction materials. Veijo is also open to new possibilities in the future where ThingLink can be used for other contexts and functions.
One of the opportunities open to ThingLink users is scenario-based learning paths. In this case, a scenario is created for the user, in which they are presented with a security-related challenge, for example. The user can practice solving the challenge or new skills safely in a virtual environment. Branching and multiple choice questions enable the user to select the solution they think is best and receive feedback based on their choice. The scenario storyline evolves step by step, based on the choices made by the user. User metrics show you which path they took and the choices they made, so you can provide detailed feedback. Read more about ThingLink’s Scenario Builder Tool here.
What are the benefits of employee training using tools like ThingLink?
Every company large or small should invest in upskilling their current employees, properly training new team members with an employee onboarding package, and regularly refreshing employee skills. In doing so you will:
- Optimise employee performance and identify any skill gaps or knowledge gaps
- Help improve job satisfaction, employee engagement and staff retention by helping employees visualise and reach their career goals and milestones
By creating a new hire training plan or roadmap that incorporates virtual training in ThingLink, you can save valuable time and cost and ensure you are providing the right training in the most effective way.
Meet a product expert
To learn how ThingLink can help your company create great training materials, schedule an online meeting with one of our friendly product experts below!