Businesses and organizations understand the importance of preparing today’s workforce by combining in-classroom, online, and hands-on learning. Obstacles occur when employees and apprentices do not have access to facilities. Increasingly, organizations are using 3D models to guide operational training, help workers grasp site conditions and command a knowledge of equipment without having to travel.
When Local Union 669 was founded in 1915, railroads were the chief means of transportation, and sprinkler fitters traveled from state-to-state to maintain their employment, installing fire sprinkler systems.
Comprised of over 14,000 members today, Local Union 669 is the largest local union in the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry in North America.
The growth of Local Union 669 continues through its national apprenticeship training program. Apprentices complete 10,000 working hours over five years through a combination of on-the-job training, in-classroom training, and distance education courses. The strength of Local Union 669 — the size and the distribution of journeymen and apprentices across North America — presents challenges. So, it adopted Matterport to enrich in-classroom and online learning in 2019.
Using Matterport, Local Union 669 is helping apprentices, who live outside a hundred-mile radius of its established instructional training centers, gain more comprehensive training. “We want to ensure every apprentice has the same level of training, regardless of their location,” Jeffrey Van Rhyn Jr. Technology and Code Coordinator Sprinkler Fitters Local Union 669 Joint Apprentice and Training Committee said. “We are creating a new online training course for individuals, who are not within a hundred-mile radius of instructional sites, so they can examine Matterport 3D digital twins of the equipment, open spec sheets for specific components, and complete their course credit.”
Boosting workforce training engagement with digital twins
Matterport is also helping Local Union 669 create more engaging in-classroom courses for its members.
“We noticed apprentices were fatigued by all-day PowerPoint presentations of the theoretical aspects of fire protection,” Van Rhyn said. “By incorporating more hands-on projects and Matterport 3D digital twins of equipment, we are piquing the interest of individuals in our apprenticeship program.”
Enabling workers to command knowledge of equipment without travel
When apprentices require an in-depth study of a fire pump, Local Union 669 uses Mattertags to annotate features of the equipment. “Mattertags allow us to link directly to equipment manuals, videos, and photos, helping our apprentices access information and expand training.”
“Using Matterport, in addition to PowerPoint and other teaching techniques, bridges the practical and theoretical aspects of training,” Van Rhyn said. “Now, apprentices and journeymen can zoom out, rotate and examine equipment from any perspective — as if they are onsite.”
Local Union 669, as well as their parent organization, the United Association, continue to embrace 3D digital twins to improve training opportunities.
Recently, Van Rhyn led an instructor-training for the United Association, demonstrating the principles of capturing and incorporating 3D digital twins into coursework. “We are striving to give each of our Local Union 669 instructors more flexibility to scan equipment and implement Matterport in their own classrooms,” Van Rhyn said.
Van Rhyn also uses Matterport to develop training that will help journeymen continue their education once they have completed the apprenticeship program.
Helping employees prepare and succeed with 3D models
“Matterport is a better alternative to giving apprentices more books to read and questions to answer,” Van Rhyn said. “It gives them a real-live situation to navigate, so they will be confident and familiar on the job site.”
Approximately 5,000 journeymen and apprentices in more than 80 locations completed coursework with Matterport 3D digital twins thus far. “Our instructors really like Matterport because it breaks the mold from teaching through PowerPoint. They can deliver higher-level training in situations when you can't have a fire pump in the room.”