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KLM redefines its cargo training experience

Blazing a trail in training innovation

In the Netherlands, there is a shortage of low-skilled staff—meaning that workers can find a job anywhere. At KLM, they usually have a new group of cargo staff starting every week that needs to be trained. The training consists of one day of Microsoft PowerPoint-presentations plus a three-day practical training, but the motivation of the trainees was low and so was their ability to retain critical information. Moreover, existing staff did not pay enough attention to managing the complete cargo process, and the new staff struggled with a lack of visibility of the supply chain. These challenges made it clear for KLM that they had to radically innovate their basic training for new cargo operatives.

Introducing visual learning

Together with Accenture, KLM Cargo began its journey into mixed reality following an experimental collaboration with KLM’s technical division, Engineering & Maintenance (E&M). After partnering with the Dutch Aerospace Centres which was one of the first organizations to have the HoloLens headset in the Netherlands, KLM decided to explore how this technology could improve technical training. Leveraging the insights gained during the E&M experiment, they built a simulation of the whole cargo packing process so that, through HoloLens, the trainees could see themselves how building pallets contributes to the process. Moreover, if you make a mistake, you can try again, without any consequences. A recurring mistake in pallet packing is that cargo workers don’t leave enough space free for locks to be attached, so the pallets can’t be secured on the plane. Using HoloLens surprised many trainees because until the training module rejected their pallet, they believed they had done a good job and that it was ready for loading.

"With HoloLens training we can now simulate the entire cargo packing process, which is something we haven’t been able to do before."
–GERT MIJNDERS, KLM Cargo Manager Compliance Knowledge Center

An impactful new learning experience

After introducing HoloLens to basic cargo training, KLM has observed considerable improvements that further validated their decision of innovating. Their workers feel much more confident and assured in what they do; they now know and understand why it is so crucial to pack pallets the right way. Trainees reported that they highly value ‘learning by doing’ in such a safe environment where there is room for mistakes, and where floor managers can witness noticeable advancements in applying knowledge from training to the job.

The shared learning experience generated by using HoloLens has a far larger impact than conventional training. The role of the trainers has been redefined, and they are now facilitators of learning rather than instructors statically transferring knowledge. Research shows that with lecture-based training, after 20 minutes of listening, people lose attention, but with HoloLens trainees worked on an assignment for 45 minutes without loss of focus. KLM tested the impact of the new training by dividing an experimental group, which was trained with HoloLens, and a control group trained conventionally with the use of slides. Results indicate that the HoloLens group could remember every part while those trained conventionally could not.

Montero, a cargo worker, says: “It’s much better because you’re not just learning, you get to work straight away. You do the real work but using the headset in a normal space instead of on the work-floor where mistakes matter. So, you already have a bit of practical experience when you start the job.”

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