Flavours of Reality
The Flavours of Reality (FoR) project plans to develop a ‘mixed reality’ training course, using Microsoft HoloLens technology to provide simulated experiences of working within a food and drink manufacturing environment. The project is being led by the Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education, one of England’s largest providers of further and higher education. Grimsby Institute Group has a rich history of developing innovative training and education solutions. It is the main provider of vocational training in the region and its strong links with local employers is key to making this project possible.
The project aims to use mixed reality training to replace classroom theory and demonstration for workplace training. Through its capacity to fully engage the learner’s senses, mixed reality can teach essential manual dexterity, precision, information interpretation and spatial awareness within a fast-paced learning environment. Students can ‘test and learn’ safely without compromising health and safety or costly impacts on quality assurance and productivity. Focusing Flavours of Reality on food safety training within the seafood industry will enable Grimsby Institute to prove the concept, with the intention of using this approach for training across a wider range of topics in future. The project outcome will be a unique ‘pilot’ product, which effectively delivers training in food safety and hazard control, which can be further developed for wider business/learning needs.
Although HoloLens has been used in medical training environments, FoR is an entirely new application of the technology. The ‘Holo Tour’ approach will enable learners to gain a better understanding of the whole manufacturing process, to see how each activity impacts and is interlinked within the overall process and encourage stronger learner engagement. This solution will immerse people within their environment for more meaningful learning and will appeal to all learning styles. Because HoloLens technology is untethered, it is portable and can be taken into different environments, including the work place, and used when and where it suits the business and the learners. HoloLens can also be used to project the user experience to groups of learners via wi-fi, allowing FoR to involve groups in learning, not just individuals.
Currently, training is delivered in a classroom or online. Staff have to be released from the factory, presenting challenges for the production line and traditional training methods disadvantage people who struggle with 'chalk and talk’ approaches to learning. In addition, the seafood industry is facing the twin challenge of a growing and innovative sector but with an ageing workforce and difficulties in attracting new, young entrants.
Grimsby Institute are working closely with Icelandic Seachill on the Flavours of Reality project. Icelandic Seachill as are a major food manufacturer with over 1000 staff in Grimsby involved in processing fish and seafood. They saw real potential for novel training methods for their workforce using HoloLens technology and have agreed to provide access to their production lines to enable 360° film and audio, which will form the basis for the virtual training environment. This base film can be overlaid with any amount of other holographic or 2D information to support wide ranging training objectives for training in areas such as pest control, hazard and control, food safety and auditing. Learning content, including narrative, 3D models of bio-hazards, ‘test and learn’ quizzes, learning files can all be added as required.
Icelandic Seachill will provide staff for product development trials, as part of the process of testing, evaluating and adapting the product with industry and learners. They are looking forward to a new augmented reality training tool using an immersive journey through the food manufacturing process to provide higher quality of training, suited to many learning styles. The HoloLens training tour will enliven mandatory training and also be used to encourage new entrants to a much-underrated industry..
The third partner is industry body Seafish, who are bringing their breadth of view of all facets of the industry to support the development of the training and identify further opportunities beyond the Ufi funded project.
The Grimsby Institute Group is lead partner on the Flavours of Reality Project. It is one of England’s largest providers of further and higher education, with a rich history of developing innovative training and education solutions; and is the main provider of vocational training in the region with a broad curriculum that encompasses full and part-time provision from 14 years onwards and a wide array of training options include Further and Higher Education choices offering Apprenticeships, community provision, business training, work-based training and commercial activities. Its Nuns Corner campus is also the home to the £20 million University Centre Grimsby which opened provides a dedicated centre for higher education programmes, offered in partnership with the University of Hull, alongside its Foundation Degree programmes.
Icelandic Seachill produces a wide variety of fresh, chilled and frozen seafood, for the retail and food service industries through its own brands and private label products for retailers and food service companies. The company has 1800 staff employed worldwide in seven dedicated processing plants, including three in Grimsby with 1000 employees, producing quality seafood for the retail and food service industries. It relies on a highly-trained workforce to maintain its position as a market leader. To support its quality goals and meet all of the legal requirements for food safety, the company operates a year-round training schedule including food safety, HACCP, pest control, allergens, mechanical and engineering and audit training, providing over 1000 certifications each year.
Seafish is a Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) set up by the Fisheries Act 1981 to improve efficiency and raise standards across the seafood industry. Its research has shown a key industry need to recruit and support workforce skills development. In 2014 the UK seafood processing industry provided around 14,305 full time jobs across 333 units. Humberside is at the forefront of the processing industry, which has international significance. Through their links into the seafood industry across the whole of the UK, there is the potential to see this innovative training tool rolled out more widely across the UK. They can also bring their breadth of view of all facets of the industry to support the development of the training and identify further opportunities beyond the Ufi funded project. They consider that the scale of seafood processing operations in the Humberside and Grimsby area coupled with the diverse range of skills available at the Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education makes this an ideal location for the pilot project.