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Isover readies plant personnel with virtual reality training

With procedures in Virtual Reality, Saint-Gobain Isover is able to provide sophisticated employee training on-demand.

New employees must be exposed to ample hands-on training in a building and manufacturing industry reliant on competent plant personnel. The key to success is providing them with practical experience while minimizing the risk of injury and avoiding downtime. But how can hands-on technical training be achieved in a safe environment that doesn’t interfere with production? Read on to find out.


Saint-Gobain Isover successfully implemented a virtual lockout tagout procedure:

The Challenge: Safely training employees while keeping production running

Like most global manufacturing companies, Isover, one of the world’s leading producers of mineral wool, requires qualified personnel to operate its complex machinery. These skills are often taught with technical training that involves practical application. However, the trouble is that training workers in a live production facility poses both health and safety hazards. That’s why creating safe learning conditions, especially when it comes to training new and inexperienced personnel, is an urgent priority that Isover takes seriously.

In the past, Isover was reliant on the planned downtime of its machinery for safe hands-on training. This narrowed the time window that personnel could train because if they weren’t sufficiently trained, the risk of workplace injuries and unplanned downtime would increase accordingly. That made it a serious challenge to fit technical training into an already busy production schedule.

Unfortunately, the problem for manufacturers is that having to halt an entire production line due to human error can quickly become a financial burden. It’s, therefore, no secret that unplanned downtime on machinery is considered the Achilles’ heel of manufacturing – and justifiably so. Studies have shown that shutdowns can eat up to 1%-10% of available production time and cost the average automotive manufacturer a whopping $22,000 per minute when factoring in labor, production, and financial losses. By the same token, the total cost of work-related injuries in 2020 was $163B for companies in the US alone.

For Isover, training qualified personnel in a safe environment is therefore vital. That’s partly achieved in a classroom setting, but reading from a slide deck and standing in a real factory are still worlds apart. This is why they needed a smarter way to safely bridge the gap between theory and practice.

The Solution: Conducting technical training in Virtual Reality

When the team at Isover evaluated the different ways they could improve and modernize their training programs, they looked to digital solutions. Among these options, virtual technical training stood out as a perfect way to teach employees in a hands-on capacity while simultaneously ensuring a safe learning environment. With the help of SynergyXR, all Isover had to do was tailor the steps from their real-life procedures to a digital format. This allowed trainees to step into a 1:1 virtual replica of their production facility and perform the reality training exactly as they would in person – without the risk of injury or need for machine downtime.

The benefits of hands-on training in VR

Simulating Isover’s technical training in Virtual Reality (VR) offers some clear advantages to supplement the theoretical knowledge gained from their classroom training. Helle Maria Monke, Training Coordinator at Isover, describes how the integration of VR is expected to noticeably improve the training program as a core supplement. Specifically, VR makes the training less time-restricted, it helps personnel connect the dots with hands-on procedures, and it completely removes the risk of workplace injuries.

Virtual reality training captures the user’s attention and makes them focus exclusively on learning the steps in a realistic way. And it doesn’t have to be a lonely experience, either. As an operations assistant at Isover Denmark, Camilla Bøttcher explains how the first trial users have taken advantage of SynergyXR’s multi-user platform to walk through their virtual technical training in smaller groups, which helps to make it a more fun, social and team-building experience. Better still, they’re able to do it on-demand at a time that suits them best.

Workers are able to filter out the world and focus on learning the procedure without us having to stop production for it.

Helle Maria Monke  |  Training Coordinator at Isover

A steady and rewarding implementation

For the people at Isover, it was important that the implementation of virtual technical training be carried out with ample technical support from a team with the track record and know-how to convert complex digital data into an intuitive VR experience. According to Helle, SynergyXR provided the right conditions for a fruitful partnership to take place, as adopting brand new technologies can be easier said than done at times. It was a priority that they weren’t just buying a solution and calling it a day, because successfully adopting a new technology is more demanding than that. She explains that, “Working with SynergyXR has been more like a joint venture, where we’ve co-operated on the implementation to fit with our long-term vision.” 

As a company that’s new to using XR technology for training purposes, it was important for the team at Isover to have a reliable sparring partner that could provide the right guidance from beginning to end. Helle explains how the development of the virtual technical training itself, which focused on a lockout-tagout safety drill, has taken some time to establish because they wanted to ensure that enough time was dedicated to mastering the new technology at a steady pace, rather than rushing the process and having to retroactively correct mistakes. Approaching it with a patient mindset has given the team a lot more clarity on how to adapt the technology going forward, and Helle certainly credits that readiness to the initial growing pains.

The Result: A versatile blueprint for virtual technical training

Impressive outcomes with VR training 

Isover’s implementation of VR training has revolutionized their approach, leading to faster skill acquisition and improved operational efficiency. Camilla Bøttcher from Isover observes, “The quick and enjoyable learning process was a standout aspect of this training.” This indicates the effectiveness and positive reception of VR training.

The thing that stood out to me was that everyone learned the procedure very quickly, and they were having fun while doing it.

Camilla Bøttcher  |  Operations Assistant at Isover
Improved Key Performance Indicators

Significant achievements include a reduction in training time and operational downtime, along with notable financial savings. Safety risks associated with Lockout-Tagout (LOTO) training have been greatly mitigated, enhancing workplace safety. 

Experiencing the change 

After implementing VR training, Isover saw a major shift in their training processes and operational efficiency. The diverse employee groups at Isover, irrespective of their initial VR technology familiarity, benefited from this training approach. 

Broadened training accessibility

Isover adopted a 'train the trainer' model. This strategic move expanded internal capabilities, allowing more personnel to efficiently conduct VR training sessions. It represents a significant evolution in the organization's training dynamics. 

Enhanced trainer experience 

VR has improved the experience for trainers, not just trainees. Helle highlighted VR's practicality, stating, "It is a tool for instructors to make their everyday work easier... So it is a tool also helping our trainers." This underscores VR's role in simplifying complex training scenarios. 

Tangible results and learning efficacy

The immersive and multisensory nature of VR training at Isover led to enhanced retention and engagement. Helle noted, "The more senses we use in learning, the more we remember." This emphasizes VR's effectiveness in creating impactful learning experiences. 

Future prospects and developments 

Isover plans to integrate AR for real-time guidance and synchronize VR training with their Learning Management System (LMS), streamlining the training process and providing personalized experiences. 

Transforming training – Isover’s VR success

Isover’s venture into VR training for the LOTO procedure is more than a technological leap; it’s a shift in professional training perception and execution. This case study is a beacon for similar companies, showing the impact of innovative training solutions. As Isover continues to explore VR and AR, these technologies will reshape workplace training, especially in precision and safety-critical sectors. 

Isover’s journey is the start of a broader transformation, redefining professional training standards across various industries. 

About Isover

Isover is a leading manufacturer of mineral wool for insulation, which has innovated and produced glass wool solutions for the building industry since 1937. Isover is a part of the global Saint-Gobain Group, providing a broad range of solutions for different industries around the world.

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Saint-Gobain Isover can attest to the transformative impact of immersive training experiences, having witnessed firsthand the advantages it brings to professional development.