- Construction and engineering giant Bechtel has opened a welding and applied technology center (WATC) in the Houston Energy Corridor, according to a company press release.
- The center is home to Bechtel experts who train welding and construction workers in the latest technologies and best practices to improve efficiencies, in addition to offering virtual training and augmented reality simulations to provide practical experience in a controlled environment.
- The WATC's Houston location is in the heart of the Texas oil industry and allows Bechtel to be close to many of its energy partners. The company also employs a large number of workers in the city, as its Oil, Gas & Chemical business unit is headquartered in Houston.
Construction companies increasingly are seeing the value of technology — especially VR and AR — as a tool to improve job site safety. New innovations can allow workers to view job site conditions without facing hazards in the field.
For example, researchers at the Institute for Computation in Engineering at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany are training workers on VR versions of job sites with simulated equipment noise and movement. Researchers are also studying worker behavior before and after simulated fatalities to gain a better understanding of worker reactions in crisis situations.
This welding tech center isn't Bechtel's first foray into the world of virtual reality training for workers. In September, the company announced that it had joined forces with Human Condition Safety to offer VR immersion safety training at its Innovation Center, also located in Houston.
In addition to providing safety training benefits for workers, VR and AR can also offer construction professionals the ability to visually communicate job site hazards to management and design teams throughout the construction cycle. Tools — such as tablets, mobile phones and wearable visors — can provide a complete view of projects to members of the team, regardless of location.