£8.7m ACT-UK Simulation Centre to train site managers as though on real project

The UK’s first virtual reality training facility for construction has opened today in Coventry. The £8.7m ACT-UK Simulation Centre is only the second of its kind in the world and will enable construction site managers to be trained as though on a real site, using pioneering technology.

A 12m panoramic screen recreates a wide variety of scenarios, meaning trainees could be “virtually” on site at anything from a small, rural affordable housing scheme, to an inner-city high-rise office development.

The technology means trainees can “fly through” the virtual construction site, inspecting building work in close detail, giving them an opportunity to make decisions in a safe and controlled environment, supported by individual observation, evaluation and feedback.

The Centre was developed by ACT-UK with input from construction industry bodies including NHBC, and supported by the Chartered Institute of Building. It is modeled on the Building Management Simulation Centre in the Netherlands.

Rob Lockey, training services manager at NHBC, said: “This new centre offers a world-leading approach to training that will reshape the way sites are run. As the UK construction industry emerges from recession, ensuring staff are fully and expertly trained will be a vital part of ramping up productivity and efficiency, to produce low-carbon housing of the future. This new centre will be invaluable in that process.”

The centre was funded by a £6.6m loan from Advantage West Midlands, together with investments of £2.1m from Coventry University Enterprises, Construction Skills, Learning and Skills Council Coventry and Warwickshire and construction industry private sector investors.