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Learning centre to go high tech with virtual reality suite


A world-class manufacturing learning centre in Peterborough has received a massive funding boost to help enable it to expand its facilities.

The Perkins Learning Centre has secured a £35m investment from its parent company, Caterpillar, to improve production facilities at Peterborough. The investment in new equipment makes it imperative that Perkins up-skills its workforce to make best use of the equipment.

A £750,000 grant from the East of England Development Agency will help it do just that, by enabling the centre to create an expanded high-tech, world-class in-industry training facility in R&D, design and production available to local people, businesses, educational establishments and other organisations in one of the region's underperforming areas. It will include a virtual reality modelling suite to simulate shop floor conditions.

Within the expanded learning centre there will be:
* A simulated work environment - a mini automated production line
* A CNC/robotics suite for training on programming, operating and maintaining production equipment
* And a virtual reality modelling suite for training off the shop floor using virtual reality to simulate shop floor conditions.

The centre aims to train 6,500 people from Peterborough and the East of England over the next three years. Working with local colleges the centre will develop the range of courses designed to improve the literacy, maths and IT skills of Perkins employees and the wider community.

Hans Haefeli, president of Perkins Engines, commented: "Perkins has demonstrated a significant commitment to keeping and growing its manufacturing capability in this region. Our aim is to drive-up productivity, quality and profitability while taking research, development and process engineering to new levels.

“This will have enormous implications for us in respect of skills - both now and in the future. Through this partnership initiative and use of our world-class learning centre, we can effectively address the skills needs in a structured manner.

“The learning centre will also allow us to work with secondary, further and higher education establishments supporting relevant courses and raising awareness of the range of opportunities available at Perkins. We will also use this facility to rekindle an enthusiasm for manufacturing and engineering amongst our students in the area.”


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