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How MEWP Training is Evolving in the Digital Age

Blog Posts - Nov 21

How MEWP Training is Evolving in the Digital Age

Rick Smith
Senior Director of Product Training
JLG Industries

The quest to develop more digital tools for customers began prior to the pandemic as mobile usage continued to increase rapidly, but when COVID-19 hit, digital technology become an absolute necessity in order for rental companies and professional contracting businesses to manage day-to-day operations — including how to address MEWP (mobile elevating work platform) training needs and requirements. 
At A Glance Training
As you can imagine, how MEWP training will evolve in today’s digital age is a hot topic in the industry right now. Below are our thoughts to some of the most frequently asked questions we get from our customers.

How is JLG using digital tools to evolve its MEWP training offerings?
With much of the today’s workforce shifting to remote locations, traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. workdays are also fading into the past. Today’s workforce requires more flexible learning opportunities — customers are looking to interact with us differently today than they were 18 months ago.

To address this need, JLG® training continues to expand the use of digital tools to deliver, as well as to enhance, training. We continue to develop high-quality, self-paced e-learning to help meet the training needs of our customers and users. These training tools and the plans to develop them were in place prior to COVID, but the use of online learning increased with the social restrictions resulting from the pandemic.

Virtual reality training
The digital age provides us with tremendous opportunity to deliver unique training experiences through the use of virtual reality simulators, like JLG’s AccessReady Fusion XR™ system, allowing trainees to effectively build the hands-on skills they need to be successful in real-world work scenarios. VR simulators can be programmed for users of all skill levels, covering everything from controls familiarization to advanced machine operation. And, this type of technology also creates opportunities for instructors to create their own scenarios designed to test various skills and select the criteria for evaluation of user performance. 

Augmented reality assistance
Digital aids like JLG’s augmented reality (AR) app help train equipment users to visualize job sites more accurately to better plan projects and manage equipment onsite. The biggest advantage of using AR is that it gives any and all users the ability to visualize equipment information, when and where they need it. Let’s be honest, every job site has its unique specifications and requirements, which means that selecting the right MEWP and accessories for the application can often be challenging. Choosing the right machine and tools can lead to a more productive day’s work; whereas, having the wrong machine on site can lead to unexpected delays or inefficiencies. 

And once the equipment is selected, JLG’s AR app can improve the operator’s experience with the machine before work begins. For example, virtual decal viewers enable users to scan the MEWP’s safety decals in order to get the current information on ISO symbols. And, AR apps can also allow users to see an overlay of a machine’s control panel with explanations of control functions prior to machine operation. 

Digital service and maintenance tools
Technology aids aren’t just for the equipment operator. Digital tools can also be used to enhance training. For instance, we can now allow service technicians to see things that can’t be easily seen, like how a circuit operates and where it’s located on the machine, with JLG’s 3-D schematics offering. 

And, the annual inspection assistant feature in the JLG AR app provides service technicians a virtual overview of the components that need to be inspected and indicates whether each service step has passed or failed. It also allows MEWP techs to take notes and snap pictures to capture any issues, as well as store inspection documentation for future retrieval.

Virtual environments
Though digital technology has become essential for rental operations to function during the pandemic, it has also become a bit tiresome when video calls and events try to merely replicate in-person events. That’s why JLG recently launched its “Access Your World” experience, a dynamic, virtual environment that is designed to meet rental customers and equipment users where they are with information, education and training. It’s free for participants, who can return whenever and from whatever device they want.

Offering an engaging, life-like experience, JLG’s Access Your World showcases detailed 3-D access equipment models being used in realistic scenarios to allow visitors to experience JLG products in a variety of job sites, enabling them to better understand specific applications and uses of the equipment. 

A look to the future
As you can see, we are already using digital technologies to aid in training MEWP users, but honestly, we are only skimming the surface of what is possible today. We anticipate an increase, and evolution, of these types of digital training tools, in both the near-term and long-term.

Will online training ever be a complete substitute for person-to-person training? 
There are many factors to consider when designing a learning program that adheres to industry standards. 

Some learning objectives are easily achieved in an online environment; other learning objectives are best suited to a face-to-face environment. For example, the Theory training component (can be done online or in-person in a classroom setting) is much easier to accomplish online compared to completing a hands-on Practical training requirement (hands-on training and evaluation) virtually. 

For these reasons, we don’t believe online training will be a complete substitute for face-to-face training.

What are some of the recent updates has JLG made to its training programs to its in-person, as well as virtual, offerings?
JLG offers several different, easily-accessible training options for our customers and equipment users to take advantage of, including classes through JLG University, the company’s training center and proving grounds and AccessReady.

JLG University
We recently added new e-learning content to the JLG University training portal and will continue to release new content. For example, a couple of recent courses include JLG References and Resources e-learning that provides details on finding the information needed to maintain JLG equipment. Another new course covers proper inspection techniques for JLG boom lifts. 

Changes to our face-to-face programs include additional structured hands-on learning opportunities and hands-on evaluations, particularly in our service training programs where we’re trying to ensure that technicians that complete our programs have the knowledge and skills required to maintain JLG equipment.

Online events
Also, during the COVID lockdowns, we introduced several technical webinars to provide online learning opportunities for our customers. The webinars were very popular, and we are expanding them as we move forward. We also piloted some distance-learning programs during the pandemic, with mixed results. Some participants provided very positive feedback on the programs; other participants found it extremely challenging. 

What are some of JLG’s ongoing campaigns to promote MEWP training and safe use?
Construction site safety is always be top of mind at JLG, and we make it a priority each and every day. Training continues to be one of the best ways to promote safety on your job site. But, what we find is that many people — and companies — still do not understand the training requirements or each individual’s responsibilities for MEWPs (Mobile Elevating Work Platforms) outlined in the current industry standards (ANSI A92 / CSA B354 standards in North America). 

And, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Industry standards impact both end users and dealers, and the reality is that the type of training an individual needs will depend on what he/she is doing on (and around) a job site. And if a person has more than one role on site, it is likely he/she will need more than one type of training. 

To address this, one of our ongoing safety campaigns is to continue to work with MEWP equipment owners and users to help them better understand what type of training (if any) that they need, as well as get them connected with the training they need. There are many reputable industry organizations, as well as equipment manufacturers like JLG, that offer industry-certified training programs to help meet these obligations. As mentioned previously, JLG offers several different, easily-accessible training options for you to take advantage of, including classes through JLG University, the company’s training center and proving grounds and AccessReady

We also offer equipment owners and users on-demand access to a wealth of content on safety-related topics on JLG’s #DirectAccess site, as well as resources from JLG’s Product Safety & Reliability department.

What more can the aerial industry do to improve safety when working at height?
Again, safety needs to be number one priority on each and every job site. Ensuring that operators and supervisors of operators are properly trained will help improve safety. Also, taking the time to train personnel thoroughly, by giving them the time needed to gain proficiency before authorizing them to operate equipment, will also significantly improve safety when working at height. 

The best way to accomplish all of this is by in compliance to the guidelines provided in industry standards, like ANSI, which were specifically developed by the access industry for the access industry. 

How do I get in contact with JLG’s training department?
The JLG training team is available to offer industry-leading training programs that bring safety and confidence to your team. Flexible training options mean you can train online or in person, with the JLG team or with the qualified, nationwide JLG Training Network. Choose from the training options available via Training | Operator & Safety Training | JLG or call us at 877-JLG-LIFT for personalized training help.

And, make sure you are compliant with the most up-to-date ANSI standards, from online supervisor training to MEWP and telehandler operator and equipment service training. To learn more about how JLG comprehensive training programs can fit your needs, click here. 

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