Hexagon machine training system helps manufacturers’ bridge shop-floor skills gaps

NEW training technology now available globally by Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division which leverages the power of its digital twins to help manufacturers train machinists and metrology specialists to use valuable shop-floor equipment.

By combining hardware that realistically replicates machines with manufacturing simulation and operator’s software tools, it helps trainees gain practical experience without risking damage to expensive business-critical equipment, wasting materials or tying up valuable production resources.

HxGN Machine Trainer was developed by Hexagon to help companies and educational institutions attract and train the next generation of machine workers – something that is vitally important with the industry facing a skills and labour shortage.

In the US, for example, job openings are hovering near all-time highs at 800,000 with 55% of roles unfilled while almost three in 10 manufacturing firms in Europe reported production constraints in 2Q 2022 due to a lack of workers.

The skills shortage is compounded by the fact that training people to use CNC machines, and similar tools, is expensive, slow and potentially dangerous.

By training machine operators using an accurate and interactive physical simulator, manufacturers can on-board and upskill their staff faster and more cost effectively than ever before.

Hexagon’s new hardware simulator bridges the manufacturing skills gap by making it easier to prepare inexperienced staff for the demands of the factory. It is versatile because a digital twin can be created for the specific machine brand, type and configuration they will use.

Once trained, workers can easily move from HxGN Machine Trainer to real machines because the simulator is designed to be as realistic as possible – with hardware that replicates the look and feel of a real machine and a 43-inch screen that displays accurate simulations of a large variety of machine and cutting tools.

A light tower, physical CNC hand wheel and CMM joystick completes the experience by enabling trainees to respond to issues and control machine movements exactly as they would on the shop floor. The agile training system also offers a range of digital twins for coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) to provide practical experience.

“Crashing a machine tool because of incorrect setup is a nightmare for both the new machinist and management concerned that a piece of machinery worth millions could be permanently damaged,” Hexagon product management director Alexander Freund pointed out.

“Crashing a virtual machine tool or CMM is safer for staff and equipment and provides a realistic experience to trainees while ensuring that valuable resources remain up and running.” – July 3, 2023

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