Giving the workforce of tomorrow the correct tools to become active, lifelong learners, can create a society where every person understands and plays to their strengths, building a self-sustaining model for education rather than one based just on knowledge.

This is the view of Bez Sangari, CEO, Sangari Education, distributors of the Soldamatic augmented reality welding simulator, who believes that Education 4.0 aligns with Industry 4.0 and is preparing students for the next industrial revolution which will happen in their lifetime.

“We believe it is time to bring education into the 21st Century. This involves flexible, tailor-made curricula, taught by teachers who become mentors to their students, treated as individuals.”

Mr Sangari estimates that the blue collar skills shortage in South Africa is about one million jobs. To meet this demand, training is essential, but the machinery needed is expensive and providing theory and no practical training is usually insufficient.

“In addressing Education 4.0, a widely-acclaimed augmented-reality welding simulator is available in South Africa as a cost-effective alternative to traditional training. It provides the same level of traditional skills training but offers significant cost savings that can run into millions of rands per annum. This is an example of Education 4.0 in action,” he says.

The Soldamatic welding simulator, which has won top honours at the Worlddidac Awards for the most innovative educational product, requires no costly welding consumables and reduce training time by half.

The Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC) has implemented the Soldamatic simulator for training its apprentices and Kraatz Engineering, in Walvis Bay, Namibia, which provides services to the oil and gas, mining, fishing and general industrial sectors in Namibia, has also installed the Soldamatic welding simulator that is being used to upskill trainee welders.

“The welding training can be done in any environment and is 100% safe, simply because it is a virtual welding environment and there are no gas emissions,” said Dirk van Niekerk, MD of Kraatz Engineering.

Another customer, Evesh Maharaj of the Sugar Association of South Africa (SASA), explains: “As we move into the 4th Industrial Revolution there is a need for training providers to modernise and equipment themselves with changes taking place in the industries. The Soldamatic welding simulator offers training officers and learners the opportunity to constantly upscale their capabilities without the costs associated with such activities.”

“The reason for choosing the Soldamatic was based on the cost comparison to similar products on the market. The Soldamatic offered the best value for money and back-up service compared to similar products. Soldamatic also offers constant internet updating of the software being used on our product.”

“We had an immediate cost saving benefit. Less electricity consumption, less material wastage and depending on the learner numbers, the classroom serves as an extra workshop.

“Future cost benefits are a major factor. With an anticipated increase in simulator numbers training costs start to decline. An increase in student numbers is also anticipated as training methods improve and modernisation begins to take place,” said Mr Maharaj.

Mr Sangari adds, “Consumables such as welding rods, steel plates or oxygen are not needed, and because the equipment has no gas emissions, it is eco-friendly. The simulator can be used in any environment with no need for special clothing or ventilation.  The welding can be done in a classroom or even an office. It is 100% safe, simply because it provides a augmented-reality welding environment.”

“The system is based on augmented-reality 3-D vision through the trainee welder’s headgear. Payback for a large training institution is about 18-24 months.  The quick payback period is achieved because no consumables are used and there is no wastage of materials.”

The simulator consists of a hardware unit the size of a standard PC, with a built-in screen that allows the trainer to view the student’s progress in real-time, as well as the student’s welding process being recorded.  The trainee wears the virtual-reality headgear which simulates a real-world welding environment.

The headgear generates realistic welding graphics such as the weld pool and beam. It emits simulated smoke, sparks and heating of the affected area, all through the student’s headgear.  It also simulates cracks, filler material, gravity and undercutting.

Welding skills can be learnt for specific applications and the student’s performance measured in a fair, reliable and unbiased manner.  The unit includes 93 different training lessons and customised lessons can also be added.

The facilitator and trainee are able to analyse and assess the trainee’s welding performance in a video afterwards and evaluate their skills level such as the welding velocity, stick-out, travel and working angles. The system will report on each student’s progress and retains a detailed portfolio of their learning progress. END