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XPO Reimagines Training with Virtual Reality Technology

The New Year was kicked off by XPO Logistics with a successful 6-week-long pilot of its VR (virtual reality) training for LTL (less-than-truckload) employees in North America. The solution combines XPO software with Oculus for Business headsets. In the months ahead, the company has plans of scaling its avant-garde training solution across its LTL operations. 

The company’s utilization of VR for LTL training is followed by its deployment of AR (augmented reality) at crucial logistics sites, where headsets are guiding employees during inventory picking. VR is used in LTL to train cross-dock workers on the most favorable way of loading freight for delivery. 

Efficient way

XPO Logistics’ chief information officer, Mario Harik said that their North American LTL cross-dock operations load approximately twenty-five thousand trailers regularly and VR is an efficient way to make sure great results for their employees and customers. 

A virtual cross-dock environment is created by XPO’s LTL training that demonstrates productive loading procedures that will safeguard freight from damage while ensuring the safety of the operator. This coursework previously bounced between a loading dock and a classroom. 

Entire experience in VR

Harik said that the typical training would be a classroom setting, which would include coursework on how to load and secure the freight, how to strap the freight properly, and so on. The trainees would then be taken to a dock where there would be staged trailers where they can do the work. He added that what the company has done here is carry the entire experience in VR where the trainees can see a dock, a loaded trailer, and can even look and move around as if they are on a forklift and they can load pallets in a virtual trailer. 

XPO Reimagines Training with Virtual Reality Technology
XPO Reimagines Training with Virtual Reality Technology

Harik noted that as the virtual trailer is loaded by the users, they have to follow the procedures taught to them during their safety training, such as the use of dunnage and proper strapping. 

Exceeded the old-fashioned way

Throughout the training curriculum, employees will learn how they can best use their time and the company’s fleet while safeguarding themselves. Harik said that XPO has seen how VR knowledge retention exceeded that of the old-fashioned way. 

He said that people retain VR training more than the real-world setting because in the latter people interact with each other and look around. But, in a VR setting, the focus is only on the important areas, such as ensuring that they’re strapping the pallets to secure the freight. Furthermore, when using the VR experience, the process can be repeated unlimited times. 

XPO software and Unity 3D

The platform combines XPO software with Unity 3D programming, and the virtual environment took 9-months to build.

As the initial VR pilot is complete, XPO has recognized potentially significant advantages of its LTL business including lower waste, higher productivity, fewer errors in driver and cross-dock operations; better efficiency and safety; and better retention of knowledge through repeatable 3D experience. 

Of training in virtual environments, Harik said it’s going to be the way of training of the future. He believes that there is a long tail of things that they can do in terms of training with VR technology. 

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