“Oops, I got a shock. Next time I’ll remember this mistake.”
This is how the technicians of the official assistance network of BMW Group Italia will improve their skills, in total safety, thanks to a learning game on high-voltage batteries developed by us, which will integrate the traditional training and certification process.
The theme: technically complex training activities
According to a study by Edgar Dale, if a person remembers 10% of what they learn by reading, they can remember up to 90% when they put into practice what they learn. This is one of the suggestions behind this case study, born out of the need to continuously improve the skills of technicians in the official assistance network of BMW Group Italia while containing the practical costs of classroom training and considering the challenging circumstances of relocating people.
The challenge: extending battery training on a larger scale, safely
Faced with the logistical, economic, and safety complexities of traditional training on high-voltage batteries, BMW Group Italia decided to turn to games to allow technicians to test their skills as an addition to the official certification program. In particular, a digital simulator was developed to teach maintenance interventions on the modules of a high-voltage battery in a MINI electric vehicle, using game mechanics as an aid. All this takes place in a safe environment, without the need for in-person support activities as required by a mechanical simulator or a real battery, and with greater engagement from the staff being trained. The game was designed to be accessible to everyone, anywhere, without the need for gaming PCs or VR headsets, only using regular computers.
The solution: introducing the BMW Learning Game, a high-voltage serious game
The solution came in the form of a Learning Game, a true learning game focusing on the MINI Full Electric and specifically the modules of its high-voltage battery. The technician becomes a player and is faced with a series of challenges (procedures). Unlike a mechanical simulator that only allows a series of activities, the learning game also focuses on evaluating the player’s performance (choices). The feedback can be positive, negative, or “fatal”: in the latter case, a game over occurs, and the technician must start over. In other words, if you make a mistake, you virtually get a shock. After playing, the results can be recorded and retrieved within the BMW Group Italia’s Learning Management System. The application will be made available to all MINI service centers in the official network of the Group in Italy.
SOME INSIGHTS ON DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY
From a slightly more technical perspective, the application was developed through three phases, divided into sprints: a prototyping phase, followed by the coding of all challenges, and finally, the development phase. A lot of attention was given to interaction, particularly in the implementation of graphical feedback that gives an idea of the effort required to handle objects such as screwdrivers, hex keys, testers, and lifting tools. Being a learning game that encourages improvement, the game provides two types of hints: first, the camera moves to the object the technician needs to work on, suggesting the next step; at that point, they can use a second hint that suggests what to do. The game falls into the category of serious games: the evaluation mechanisms were calibrated to maintain the sense of gameplay but with sufficiently strict thresholds to create an awareness of the danger of certain operations and to foster competitiveness. One last note concerns usability: starting from a CAD MES, all the images were optimized to ensure that the game could run smoothly using the mouse on any type of computer.
ADVANTAGES AND RESULTS OF THE BMW LEARNING GAME
The use of the application is highly versatile. BMW Group Italia can consider using it:
#1 – to support traditional training activities leading to certification
#2 – as a follow-up, after a certain time from certification, to review and reinforce what has been learned
#3 – as pre-work before the certification course, allowing for some risk-free experience before undertaking the certification process
- Reduction of network costs: Technicians can practice procedures as many times as they want without any extra costs, which would be impossible if practiced on a real vehicle.
- Staff protection: Technicians work in total safety, which is an essential principle for the company.
- Scalable solution: The game – available in multiple languages (Italian, English, Spanish, and expanding) – can technically reach any computer in any country.
- Employer branding: Improved perception of BMW Group Italia as a supportive brand that is close to the network.
Equally significant are the benefits for technicians:
- Higher engagement: According to research, the use of gamification in training activities leads to a 88% higher effectiveness and acceptance among employees (TalentLMS).
- Greater effectiveness: Learning through games improves information retention by an average of seven times.
- Total safety: Learning procedures and work techniques take place in a completely safe environment.