Completely NORMAL unique training in VR
Future employees at NORMAL’s warehouse will be given a VR headset, where they can train the basic rules in how pallets should be packed even before their first day of work.
Put the VR headset on and experience the space around you transform into a warehouse at NORMAL, where you have to pack boxes of goods on a pallet. Future employees at NORMAL’s warehouse near Horsens in Denmark can look forward to this experience.
Preparing for your upcoming work in a VR headset is a unique way for NORMAL to stand out from the crowd. But the idea stems from an economic rationale.
“We are growing a lot and getting three to five new employees a week. New employees are of course less productive in the beginning, but our skilled employees also decline in productivity when they spend time training the newcomers. We want to give the newcomers a higher starting level, and this way we can give them the opportunity to train the basic rules for packing pallets even before they start working with us,” says Henrik Bøgelund, Logistics Director at NORMAL.
Get the ground rules on the backbone
When the VR experience begins, you first get to stack a few boxes, and once you’ve learned the technique, you have to work your way through eight levels. The different levels represent the basic rules for how the pallets should be packed.
“Our overall aim is to make it as easy as possible for the stores to empty the pallets and put the goods in place. Based on this, we have defined some requirements for how to build a pallet, and it has become the eight basic rules that we have built into the experience as levels,” says Henrik Bøgelund.
The basic rules are, for example, that the boxes must not go beyond the edge of the pallets, how high they can be stacked, and how heavy boxes must be placed to make the pallet as stable as possible.
“You become completely immersed in the experience, and the element of gamification means that the ground rules will settle on the backbone. We can’t give users an experience of how heavy the boxes are, but that’s not important either, because none of them are particularly heavy. The important thing is that you learn and remember the eight basic rules,” he says.
Pallet packing is chosen because more than half of the resources in the warehouse are spent on picking goods. It is the most complex part of the job and is where there is the greatest intake of new employees.
Get the most of your colleagues
Even if new employees are given the opportunity to train before start-up, there is no expectation that they will be fully self-sufficient from day one. Time still needs to be spent on peer training – it just becomes more valuable on a cultural level.
“Peer training also involves behavior in the warehouse and a lot of cultural things that we can’t just transfer via a VR platform. For example, you always stop and help a colleague if a pallet is knocked over. We would much rather see sparring used on the cultural part than on the physical part, and we can achieve this if the new employees’ basic level is higher than today,” says Henrik Bøgelund.
Unique benefits of VR training
- NORMAL’s most talented employees have to spend less time on training new employees
- New employees remember the basic rules for packing pallets on the first day
- New employees become more productive faster
- Peer training can focus more on cultural values
- New products and box types can be learned through gamification with competitions in VR.
Fun competitions on the way
Initially, NORMAL will test the concept, and if the results meet expectations, the project team already has a part two in mind. Here, they imagine creating competitions for existing employees who have to pack pallets with different types of boxes on time, and where new types of boxes or challenges can appear every one, two or four weeks.
“Our employees in the warehouse are generally happy with competitions, so we could have it as a fun activity where they can see who is the fastest and win some small prizes. Of course, we can also put some learning into the competitions in the form of new products, so they may get to know new products without really realizing that it is training,” he says.
Learning is needed, because although it is fun to pack pallets in NORMAL’s VR universe, VR training is not just something NORMAL does for fun.
“VR training and this experience fit really well into the NORMAL universe. We are different, but we don’t do this because we are different, but because we can achieve an effect that we would otherwise find difficult to achieve. At the same time, we expect the employees to find it to be a fun experience – and it also fits well into our universe,” says Henrik Bøgelund.