A well-trained team is crucial for manufacturing success. That’s why Mazak has long offered a Progressive Learning program with hands-on training for all of our equipment at Technology and Technical Centers across North America. However, as with most aspects of life in 2020, COVID-19 has changed the way we approach training at Mazak – and with the help of advanced technology, we’ve made it more accessible than ever, with remote learning opportunities that have been so popular that they’ll remain a staple of our educational programs going forward.
Mazak has long offered online, on-demand training through Tooling U-SME, with 60 days of free access to the full course catalog and more than 20 custom Mazak-focused modules with every machine purchase. For more in-depth lessons, however, instructor-led courses have always been preferred – it’s much easier to learn how to program at the control or maintain a machine when you can ask questions and interact with the technology directly. This became a challenge as manufacturers increasingly cancelled travel plans in response to the pandemic, so Mazak quickly reacted, gearing up to allow its instructors to teach courses online.
Today, all of our Progressive Learning classes are offered online, and many shops have discovered that this has numerous unexpected advantages. Classes rarely last all day, for example, so rather than losing a valuable member of the team for a few days of off-site training, operators can log off and head right back into the shop. And while Mazak offers two years of free training with every machine, manufacturers generally cover travel expenses, which are obviously not a factor when the classroom is accessible from anywhere with an internet connection.
The online instructor-led courses were so popular that Mazak plans to continue offering them going forward. Thanks to our fully connected classrooms and online learning platform, in-person and online classes can be taught at the same time. Students on site and across the country can bounce questions back and forth while discussing coursework, and software like TeamViewer allows instructors to see students using simulated controls to help troubleshoot issues and teach new concepts.
We’ve also been investing in our ability to integrate truly revolutionary digital technology in our remote training programs. New learning management systems, for example, will make it easier for Mazak to offer on-demand training modules, while our All Axes LIVE event series ensures that our customers have access to information on the latest Mazak technology. Perhaps the most exciting development is our continued expansion of the use of Mixed Reality training to bring our hands-on lessons to students no matter where they’re logged in.
Currently, instructors are using Microsoft HoloLens equipment to show students exactly what the instructor sees while performing maintenance operations. Like a 3D whiteboard, the instructor can mark objects, draw circles or otherwise indicate various features in 3D space using spatial anchors. This already acts as a big improvement to simple videos, but the technology promises to take training even further in the future, especially as virtual reality goggles and other devices make it possible for students to bring the technology into their own shop, which will allow instructors to give lessons directly at a shop’s machine.
Mazak has already begun offering in-person classes again, and we’re happy to welcome our customers back to our Technology and Technical Centers as well as our headquarters in Florence, Kentucky, with updated protocols designed to keep all students and employees safe. But for those who prefer to take lessons remotely, we’re proud to offer a more robust and comprehensive selection of online courses than ever before. Take a look at our class schedule and expand your manufacturing skill set today.