Construction training goes virtual

The UK’s first virtual reality training facility for the construction industry opened yesterday in Coventry.Using pioneering technology, the £8.7m ACT-UK Simulation Centre, which is only the second of its kind in the world, will enable construction site managers to be trained as though on a real site. A 12-metre, panoramic screen recreates a wide variety of scenarios, meaning trainees could be ‘virtually’ on-site at anything from a small, rural affordable housing scheme, to an inner-city high-rise office development.

The facility also gives site managers the opportunity to deal with demanding lifelike situations covering issues such as health & safety, waste reduction and team performance.

In addition the technology means trainees can 'fly' through the virtual construction site, inspecting building work in close detail, giving them an opportunity to make decisions in a safe and controlled environment, supported by individual observation, evaluation and feedback.

The centre was developed by ACT-UK with expert technical consultation from the construction industry including the National House-Building Council (NHBC), and supported by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB). It is modelled on the Building Management Simulation Centre in the Netherlands.

It was funded by a £6.6m loan from Advantage West Midlands, together with investments of £2.1m from Coventry University Enterprises, Construction Skills, Learning and Skills Council Coventry and Warwickshire and construction industry private sector investors.

Michael Brown deputy chief executive at the CIOB commented: “Innovation is a vital element in any industry but perhaps none more so than construction – which is an industry that turns ideas into reality. We constantly push the frontiers of knowledge on live projects, whether big firms or small. But it is the people and not the processes that deliver these projects. The CIOB has no doubt that this centre will attract even better recruits into the industry and equip our workforce to fit the needs of the future.”

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