Freudenberg Medical recently announced it implemented virtual reality training for employees working in catheter production at operations in Ireland and the U.S.
The VR training program will help ensure employees have the necessary skills to meet the high-quality standards in catheter manufacturing for customers worldwide, according to the Beverly, Massachusetts-based company.
Conventional training typically involves disrupting production lines to provide new operators with the proper training. With VR technology, trainees can do more than 100 repetitions in a virtual environment before joining the production line, all at their own pace to meet individual training needs.
“Introducing new colleagues to the shop floor is challenging,” said Séamus Maguire, VP of lean systems at Freudenberg Medical. “We have many highly specialized tasks that need to be accomplished under magnification. Training previously required a dedicated trainer for each trainee which was costly.”
Freudenberg Medical said that VR training for employees builds muscle memory and helps educate them on materials and equipment terminology. Before integrating the VR technology, it could have taken three to four weeks for operators to gain the rhythm of the production lines and hit “takt” time, a key concept in lean manufacturing defined by the rate needed to complete a product. With three days of VR training, operators can hit takt time to increase manufacturing efficiency by a multiple.
Additionally, with the implementation of this new technology, scrap raw materials have been reduced.
“This is in line with Freudenberg’s commitment to sustainability,” Lars Gerding, VP of GBU silicone and VP of technology at Freudenberg Medical, said in a news release. “Against the backdrop of global supply chain disruptions in recent years, implementing the VR training was particularly beneficial.”
Freudenberg Medical is currently implementing the program at a catheter production site in the U.S. following its successful rollout in Ireland. The company plans to implement VR training at other sites where highly precise steps are done under magnification, and long-term to introduce the training company-wide.