The landscape of resources available to train and support the utility field worker is constantly changing, and safe and effective training remains a critical priority for utility companies.

A major utility company knew that virtual reality (VR) can provide effective instruction in a safe, relatively low-cost environment. They wanted to move past the trade-off between training in a classroom environment, which can feel removed from the realities of the field, and training in the field, which can be costly and time-consuming, to VR training, which offers the best of both worlds.

What Accenture did

A major utility company was seeking a more agile, effective and efficient way to train employees to conduct overhead power line inspections.

In a five-week pilot program, Accenture co-created with the utility company to develop a VR prototype for immersive learning utilizing an agile methodology and human-centered design principles. The VR experience allows the trainee to move between distribution poles and use appropriate tools to survey power lines and identify issues. The results of the inspection are then scored by the system, providing the trainee with immediate and relevant feedback.

"This technology would give our field workers the ability to see things in the field and be able to determine if it is a critical problem or something that can wait… from the response received during this pilot, I would say we have a workforce that’s ready to accept this technology."

— Senior Vice President of Electric Operations

People and culture

The immersive VR experience was very well received. Executives and trainers reported that the interactive training is user friendly and allows for discussions, where it is easy to explain concepts to those workers without previous field experience, compared to their typical classroom setting.

Trainees appreciated the immediate feedback they received as their responses to the simulations were scored. This exploration of VR Training and other applications of XR technology demonstrates the utility company’s continued commitment to safety and innovation in the delivery of energy to their customers.

Value delivered

Based on the success of the immersive VR experience prototype and the willingness of executives, trainers and trainees to embrace this new technology, Accenture has proposed a plan to scale this training and other extended reality (XR) solutions across the enterprise.

A recent design thinking session identified more than 10 cases for the use of VR, assisted reality, augmented reality and 3D modeling to improve learning outcomes, create efficiencies, and improve delivery of safe, sustainable and reliable energy to the communities served by the utility.

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