Virtual reality training gains traction

VR allows operators to train to use a cleanroom, without one, increasing information retention and reducing production errors

Virtual Reality Training by Novartis/Sandoz. Copyright: Innerspace (as seen on CleanZone)

Logically, training a person to use a cleanroom requires access to one. Companies are now beginning to employ virtual reality to avoid this. The VR technology is used to teach correct behaviours while avoiding many of the major costs of the training process.

The benefits of VR training lies in the lack of need for the actual cleanroom. Due to the running cost, time in a cleanroom is extremely valuable and limited.

When you remove this necessity it gives far more opportunity for training. Combined with little preparation time in comparison to the standard way, this new approach to training can happen anytime, anywhere and can be repeated as many times as necessary.

These factors can all contribute to information retention from the training, improving the quality of work performed by staff. In this way, the technology saves money in training costs, but also in production errors.

Services on the market

Two companies that are providing such VR services are Innerspace and Penguin Innovations. A spin-off of Purdue University's College of Pharmacy, Penguin Innovations has a VR cleanroom that exists on a computer and can be interacted with on that platform.

The US-based company commercialises a USP <797> virtual cleanroom for students, pharmacists, technicians, and other industry professionals to gain hands-on experience creating sterile, accurately prepared products.

But the real innovation is in the way Innerspace's product works. The Austrian-based has integrated cleanroom training into a wearable technology software that lets the operator navigate the cleanroom in a 3D environment.

Sebastian Scheler, Managing Director of Innerspace, said that the technology it uses has full body tracking. This means it can track the movements in real-time, informing the trainee if an action has been carried out incorrectly, for example, too fast.

Innerspace works with customers to determine the key moments in the cleanroom to base training on. These are moments that are crucial, recurring situations in which every movement must be the right one, such as what to do when a vial is broken. This is in much the similar way to classic training, however, there is no need to halt production and use up valuable cleanroom time to carry it out.

Though there are many benefits to a VR approach to cleanroom training, there are some procedures that are not suited to the technology. Scheler identified the procedure for getting dressed as one of the few actions that actually benefits from the real deal.

Companies