Cat SafetyStatistics show that up to 90 percent of construction job site accidents are caused by unsafe behavior, not conditions. However, according to Justin Ganschow of Caterpillar Safety Services, worksite rookies and veterans alike can benefit from learning critical safety lessons in a controlled, virtual reality (VR) environment.

In this episode, Ganschow takes AEM inside the Cat® Safety VR program, including a memorable hands-on demo, and explains the lessons that other equipment manufacturers can take away from the program’s success—like why workers who are trained on VR systems are more likely to remember their training than those who learn in a traditional classroom setting.

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Justin Ganschow: Virtual reality is really just a better way to train. It does elicit not only an emotional but a biological response. And those are the things that form memories.

Dusty Weis: Hello and welcome to another edition of the AEM Thinking Forward Podcast, advancing the equipment manufacturing industry. I'm Dusty Weis. And in this edition, virtual reality training and how heavy equipment manufacturers are using it to save lives in the construction industry.

Dusty Weis: We visit with the business development manager of Caterpillar Safety Services about how they've incorporated this immersive tech into their CAT Safety VR Program. And since it never hurts to freshen up on construction site safety, I tried this system out in person... And failed... Repeatedly. Yup, that did not go well for me. But those are the lengths to which we'll go to bring you the latest big ideas here on the AEM Thinking Forward Podcast.

Dusty Weis: Each month we explore a new subject area to help keep your business on the cutting edge of the heavy equipment industry. Accordingly, do make sure that you're subscribed to our podcast feed so that you get an update every time there's a new episode. We're always trying to find new angles on this podcast. And we'd really love to hear your thoughts on it. Post a comment, rate, or review us in whatever your favorite podcast app if you please. Not only is the feedback helpful for me, it helps other industry pros like you find our show.

Dusty Weis: So to this month's topic, anyone who has spent time working around heavy equipment knows that there is a lot to keep track of on the job site; the roar of the engines, the task at hand, the other folks onsite, and even vehicle traffic wheezing past at 65 miles an hour. There are so many distractions that can get in the way of safety as job number one that 90% of job site incidents are caused by unsafe behavior, not the conditions.

Dusty Weis: But a leading manufacturer of heavy equipment is working to change that. Caterpillar, one of AEM's longest tenured members, has launched a new virtual reality training product designed to simulate a worker's first day on the job site. Using the latest in immersive technology, CAT Safety VR is intended to put trainees through their paces on important safety best practices and provide road crew veterans with an important opportunity to brush up on those skills.

Dusty Weis: With this technology playing an increasingly important role in the industry, I figured I'd better go check it out myself, maybe put the VR system through its paces and see what lessons there are for other equipment manufacturers to learn. So I loaded up the car and headed south to Caterpillar HQ in Peoria, Illinois for a meeting with Justin Ganschow, the business development manager of Caterpillar Safety Services.

Dusty Weis: Justin, tell me about the genesis of CAT Safety VR. Where did this idea come from? And why did Caterpillar identify this as an important technology to help train workers on the job site?

Justin Ganschow: It actually was a request from a long term customer of ours that we've been working with since 2015 to improve their safety culture and leadership capabilities across their organization. They're a large paving contractor based in France. But they have a headquarters here in the United States with seven subsidiaries, about 5,000 employees in the U.S.

Justin Ganschow: And the CEO came to us after we've been working on their culture for a number of years. And he was really focused on innovation and construction. And he said his personal mission was that any new employee that joined their company would remember their first day and that it was about safety. He wanted them in his words, "To have an emotional response to safety." And he thought that VR was a good way to do that.

Dusty Weis: That's really cool. So how does it work? If I'm a new construction worker and this is part of my first day orientation, I slip on this virtual reality headset and what do I see? What do I do?

Justin Ganschow: You are immediately dropped into a virtual world. So it looks, it sounds, it feels like you're on the side a four-lane highway on a paving train. And if you've never been in that situation before, and a lot of our new workers, new laborers have not; it can be a very shocking experience. It's very eye opening.

Dusty Weis: I can imagine that's a little intimidating, yeah, with traffic rushing by.

Justin Ganschow: Yeah, and that's the point. That's where the emotional response comes in. So you meet with your foreman after you've gone through an overview that describes what is a paving train, what are these pieces of equipment that maybe you've seen on the side of the road but you don't understand what they are or what their purpose is. Your foreman then introduces you to the rest of the crew. He sets the expectations for the day and what he expects of you when it comes to safety. And he gives you some hints of things that you need to remember for later on in the day. And if you don't, there's going to be memorable consequences.

Dusty Weis: That sounds like what we like to call foreshadowing in the entertainment business.

Justin Ganschow: Yes, so you better be paying attention. Then he takes you through some common scenarios. You go out to the lane closure where you're working in close proximity to the public traffic that's flying by. And you get to become aware of some of those hazards. You work in close proximity to the earth moving equipment, trucks that are dumping hot asphalt. And in all of these situations, you have to make safe decisions. And when you do so, those things get rewarded. Otherwise as I stated earlier, there are memorable consequences.

Dusty Weis: We're able to laugh about it here and chuckle a little bit because it is a virtual reality environment. But what value do you see in being able to have people learn these sorts of lessons in a virtual environment as opposed to the way that it was maybe previously done in the past learning on the job site on the fly and maybe with more consequences attached.

Justin Ganschow: Yeah, virtual reality provides trainees a safe place to fail where failure isn't fatal. And one of my favorite things is when we get safety professionals or safety managers to go through the training, and they die at every opportunity that is available. And it's really eye opening to them too. It get us to think beyond simple compliance with OSHA or MSHA regulations on the job site to think through what are the things that people really need to know and understand? What are those tasks? What are those procedures that could get them injured on the job? And we need to focus more on those things.

Dusty Weis: You said that the safety and compliance professionals are having as much trouble with it as some of the first timers. Do you put some curve balls into this here? Or what's catching them off guard?

Justin Ganschow: Well it's realistic. On the job site, you might be asked to go perform a task. And in the real world, the straightest line to complete that task might not be the safest. It might be a shortcut. So within the simulation, you also have to make those decisions. You have to be aware of your environment. It might be a longer route, but it's the safer route.

Dusty Weis: Now if it looks like I'm taking careful notes over here and making note of every little hint that you drop, it's because in a little bit we're going to take a break. And I'm actually going to get to try this safety VR system myself. And like with any video game, I want to try to set the high score. So I appreciate all these hints that you're dropping over here.

Dusty Weis: But I understand that there are some studies that have shown that there is an increase in training retention rates too when VR is used as a teaching tool. Is there a way to quantify how much more effective VR training is? What have you seen in your role out of this program?

Justin Ganschow: Yeah, there's an often cited study that showed that virtual reality results in an 80% retention rate in what the trainee has learned after a year versus only 10-20% retention in a tradition classroom lecture setting after two weeks. 80% after a year, 10-20% after two weeks.

Justin Ganschow: And the reason is because it's an active style of learning. It engages a lot of different senses, sight, vision, and also touch because you're interacting with things within the virtual environment. It actually forms memories in your brain.

Dusty Weis: Not you mention you had hinted at that emotional connection that people feel when they put on this virtual reality simulator and go through this training process. So what sort of emotions are they feeling? And how is that more deeply rooting these memories for them?

Justin Ganschow: It is so realistic than often when I get the controllers back from people that have tried it out, they're covered in sweat because it is a stressful environment. If you've never been out on a construction site with public traffic flying by you at 60 miles an hour, you put this on. It feels like you're really there. The hazards feel real to you. And the consequences also feel real to you.

Justin Ganschow: One of my favorite simulations is working at heights. And if you're scared of heights, you put this headset on. You're going to be terrified. Your knees will be trembling because it feels so realistic. Virtual reality if you're not familiar with it, it puts digital screens in front of your eyes. So everywhere you move your head, you look above you, you look below you, to either side; you're seeing a different place. You can't see your feet. You can't see your body. You're in a different world.

Dusty Weis: It's a completely immersive experience.

Justin Ganschow: Completely.

Dusty Weis: And I'm starting to feel some of the emotions that we've talked about here now as you're describing this, a little sheen of sweat glistening on my forehead here.

Justin Ganschow: I can see that.

Dusty Weis: It takes a fair amount of domain expertise to produce and develop a virtual reality environment and make it user-friendly. And Caterpillar has gone so far as to produce what's almost a professional grade video game to accompany this. How did Caterpillar develop this program? Did you do this all in-house? Or did you partner with a company from outside the industry?

Justin Ganschow: So to create the content, the scenarios that the trainee is involved in, we actually brought in frontline employees, foremen, safety professionals from all of the subsidiaries of Colas which is our partner company to tell us what are those scenarios that are the highest risks for a new employees on the job. Give us your ideas because we're experts in safety culture, in leadership development, not in paving.

Justin Ganschow: So we brought in those members. They gave us all their ideas. We turn those ideas into a script. And we handed that over to CSE Software which is a long term supplier to Caterpillar. They create all of our CAT simulators. So if you've seen those set up at trade shows or at CAT dealerships or customer sites where you sit in an actual operator seat, and there are screens or now VR to help people learn how to operate our machines; same company was our developer. So we turned over our scripts to their instructional designers, their developers, and their testers. And they took it from there.

Dusty Weis: Well I have about a million more questions. But the anticipation is killing me right now. So could we try this thing out?

Justin Ganschow: Absolutely.

Dusty Weis: All right. Let's do this.

Justin Ganschow: Let's get you geared up.

Dusty Weis: So Justin led me over to where some CAT staff had set up a laptop computer connected to a high tech virtual reality headset.

Justin Ganschow: So you got to put that on. The most important thing-

Dusty Weis: If you've never tried one of these things, it basically puts a separate mini high def video screen in front of each one of your eyes. So you're not just looking at a screen. You're looking at two screens that mimic binocular vision and trick your brain into thinking that you're seeing a virtual world around you in 3D.

Dusty Weis: The headset senses your movements. So when you turn your head, your view in the virtual reality world turns too, creating this seamless impression that you're surrounded on all sides by this virtual world. And it also blocks out the real world around you.

Dusty Weis: You let me know if I'm about to walk into the wall here, right?

Justin Ganschow: Yeah, I'll stop you. You're going to see wire a frame pop up.

Dusty Weis: Even to the point where it's very easy to forget that you're in a conference room. The VR system also includes two controllers which you hold in your hands. They sense where they are in space and create full-size hands clad-in work gloves which you can move around in your virtual world.

Dusty Weis: Each controller has two buttons. One lets you interact with the virtual world picking things up or pointing them out. The other helps you move your body around in space. It's fairly intuitive and pretty easy to pick up on after short tutorial. So after an instructional video on the basics of a paving train-

Justin Ganschow: But if you've never worked on asphalt before which a lot of laborers haven't, this gives them an overview-

Dusty Weis: The walls around my virtual world suddenly fell away like pieces of cardboard. And there I was standing on the side of the interstate with traffic wheezing past.

Justin Ganschow: All right. Buckle up.

Simulator Voice: Welcome to the roadside construction VR experience.

Justin Ganschow: There you go.

Dusty Weis: Stereo speakers built into the headset complete the illusion that I'm somewhere else with the sound of cars and trucks moving from left to right as I look out over the road. And after taking a moment to orient myself, I'm waved over to a team huddle where the foreman is briefing a half dozen men and women in orange vests.

Foreman: Good morning, crew. I'd like you to meet the newest member of our team.

Dusty Weis: We gear up, putting on our gloves, glasses, hard hats, and reflective vests.

Foreman: Great. You've got all your basic PPE in place.

Dusty Weis: I look down at my belly. And I can see that I have the yellow reflective vest on. I'm not sure how I feel about the fact that my belly is a little bit rounder than it is in real life. But-

Foreman: If you see anyone in the job site doing something that could get them or someone else hurt, it's your right and responsibility to point it out no matter who it is.

Dusty Weis: So my first duty is calling out other people's unsafe behavior. This I can do.

Dusty Weis: This fella right here has got his earbuds in.

Justin Ganschow: Oh boy.

Dusty Weis: This fella in the blue shirt has not stopped texting since we joined the huddle.

Justin Ganschow: Just here.

Dusty Weis: That's not all right.

Foreman: We all need to be paying attention to the job briefing. Let's all put our phones away and make sure we are attentive.

Dusty Weis: After we wrap up the huddle, the foreman and I leave these safe confines of the shoulder and head out into a closed-off lane of traffic to do a site walkthrough. Everything is more intense now, the visuals, the sound of cars wheezing past. And I very quickly figure out what Justin meant when he talked about causing an emotional response.

Dusty Weis: Boy, you weren't kidding about this being just a little bit intimidating. There's a... Oh. Jesus.

Foreman: Are you okay?

Dusty Weis: Just 50 yards down the freeway, a car skids out of control... Just missing one of my team members who's preoccupied setting up orange cones. And all at once, my heart is pumping. My adrenaline's up. And I break out in a flop sweat. Speaking as someone who's been on the side of the road when an accident happens, I can safely say this is close enough to the real thing to be uncomfortable. Of course my wife will tell you I don't always learn a lesson the first time.

Dusty Weis: And so when my next job in the simulation is resetting the cones that just got knocked over, I'm served up a reminder how easy it is to let your attention wander.

Foreman: The actions of the public are unpredictable. So face the flow of traffic whenever possible.

Justin Ganschow: Always face the flow of traffic.

Foreman: Whoa.

Dusty Weis: Come on. Like a fun house with the scares here. Jeepers.

Justin Ganschow: You almost fell over.

Dusty Weis: Even as he's reminding me to face the flow of traffic, I look away for just a second to place a virtual cone and a passing motorist swerves and might've taken some of the leather off my belt if this was the real world...

Dusty Weis: I try to swallow. But my mouth is dry.

Dusty Weis: Boy, these guys are really whizzing past.

Dusty Weis: This is why we have work zone speed limits.

Dusty Weis: But I tell you what, I'll never speed through a construction zone again.

Justin Ganschow: I've changed my behavior as well.

Dusty Weis: I think that there would be value in having general members of the public do this simulation.

Dusty Weis: We finish resetting the cones then move a little further down the paving train into the thick of the action. Now, I am hyper alert. There's hot asphalt, heavy equipment all around me. And the foreman just gives me one simple job, just take a shovel to Abby right over there.

Dusty Weis: I am supposed to walk right between this dump track and the MTV, which I bet is going to be one of these things where I just got to keep my hand on a swivel. So let's go over to Abby and take her this shovel. Yup, there it goes.

Foreman: Call an ambulance now!

Dusty Weis: A faulty backup alarm and my own impatience get me this time. The dump truck pins me against the MTV. And the screen fades out. But then I get to start the scenario over.

Justin Ganschow: In real life, you don't get a second try, right?

Dusty Weis: I try again. This time I walk up to the cabin, wave down the driver before I try to cross, then stay in his line of sight. I get through that, then the remaining scenarios, relatively unscathed. Then Justin helps me out of the headset.

Dusty Weis: And I'm back in Peoria.

Justin Ganschow: Whoo. Wow. How do you feel?

Dusty Weis: That was weird. It was really neat. But again I can't believe how convincing that was. I'm just standing there on the side of the road with the traffic whizzing by in stereo. And there were a couple of heart-stopping moments there. It was just real neat. It was really convincing.

Justin Ganschow: How long do you think that whole simulation took you?

Dusty Weis: I'd say 10-15 minutes?

Justin Ganschow: Yeah, it's 25 minutes.

Dusty Weis: Holy cats. Really?

Justin Ganschow: Yeah.

Dusty Weis: Wow. Is that pretty typical? Or was I just moving like a turtle?

Justin Ganschow: No. Everyone says 10 minutes. And it's usually 25-30 minutes because you lose track of where you are because it's so immersive.

Dusty Weis: That's really cool. But let's sit back down-

Justin Ganschow: Okay.

Dusty Weis: And finish up.

Dusty Weis: Okay. So sitting back down now with Justin Ganschow, the business development manager, for Caterpillar Safety Services. Justin, you've taken me out. You've put me through my paces. I was killed once on the job site and had my life in danger a couple more times. Honestly I had to pause and catch my breath a little bit after finishing that simulation because there were parts that I think I told you at the time, it was like a fun house. It was like that clown jumping out of the closet-

Justin Ganschow: Absolutely.

Dusty Weis: And scaring the daylights out of you. But you're right. There's an emotional connection.

Justin Ganschow: That's right.

Dusty Weis: It works. It's not something that I'm ever going to soon forget. And I grew up playing video games all the way back to classic Nintendo and SNES-

Justin Ganschow: Yeah, me too.

Dusty Weis: All the way up to some of the really great titles that there are today that make the games that we grew up with look like tiddlywinks.

Justin Ganschow: Absolutely.

Dusty Weis: I'm 34. And I think to workers of a certain age especially, this new approach that Caterpillar has developed is going to feel more natural than a classroom when it comes to learning about job site safety.

Justin Ganschow: Those that are working in the trades today span a lot of different generations. But we're seeing more and more Millennials and Gen Zs out there on our job sites. And they were born with smartphones in their hands. I mean they've grown up with this technology. So when we show it to them. It's natural. They just pick it up. And they know how to use it. And I saw that with you. You caught on very quickly how to teleport and move around and pick things up on the job site. They just get it.

Dusty Weis: What about the older generations then? Does this same approach work for the job site veterans that maybe have never touched a video game console in their life?

Justin Ganschow: What is really exciting is that the initial reaction to anybody that puts on the headset for the first time is pure wonderment. I love it when those walls fall down. And you're on the construction site. You just see them looking everywhere. And they're astonished. So everyone has that initial reaction.

Justin Ganschow: So when you're developing these things, you have to think through how are those that are naïve to this type of technology, how are they going to interact with it? The controls, if you're using hand controls, have to be extremely intuitive.

Dusty Weis: You are like my spirit guide-

Justin Ganschow: Right. Yeah.

Dusty Weis: When I was trying out the simulator. And especially if you've got somebody there whispering into your ear, "No, no, no. Use the trigger," it's so intuitive. You pick up on it so fast.

Dusty Weis: We hear a lot in the industry about how hard it is to attract and recruit and retain younger workers. How effective do you think offering VR training like this is as a means of meeting them where they are and helping a new generation see the appeal of construction work?

Justin Ganschow: It's certainly an ancillary benefit to companies using VR for training their existing employees. Our partner that we had in developing this, Colas, they take it to job fairs. When we had it World of Asphalt, we had a steady stream of people trying it out. And every high school, vocational student, and college student that was attending that event; I'm sure they came through our booth because to them it was just something they wanted to experience. And they're familiar with the technology.

Dusty Weis: I think that you hit on a theme that we hear a lot in the heavy equipment industry and the construction industry as well that embracing these new technologies makes it more appealing. And it's not only an effective training method, it's good public relations for the industry at the end of the day.

Justin Ganschow: Right.

Dusty Weis: Are there other reasons that you think the heavy equipment industry as a whole should run toward these sorts of innovation and embrace them?

Justin Ganschow: I think it just makes really good sense. It's a better way to train. The traditional death by a PowerPoint or using computer learning alone does necessarily translate into task competence. And that's where people get injured on the jobs. They don't know how to do the job safely. We can't just focus on compliance training which is where a lot of safety programs focus. It's just check the box. We've trained them all. Lock out. Tag out. But we didn't teach them how to isolate energy on an excavator with pneumatic, and hydraulic, and rotational types of energies that you can't see. So we have to think differently about how we train employees.

Justin Ganschow: The other thing is you don't have to pull a piece of heavy equipment out of your job site to train people on it which is productivity dollars lost. You can train people anywhere you can. You can train them on the job trailer. You can train them in your office. Anywhere that you have five or six square feet of space, you can train people with VR. It just makes better sense.

Dusty Weis: I mean we're just sitting here in a conference room. But I got treated to the full job site experience complete with the left to right rush of traffic wheezing by my head.

Dusty Weis: As an equipment manufacturer, there's no one out there that's saying that CAT has to provide the services to keep workers safe on job sites. CAT could just sell them the equipment they use and be done with it. Let the end users figure out how to keep their workers safe. But that's not the approach Caterpillar has taken here. Why not?

Justin Ganschow: It's just not who we want to be as a company. In May of this year, Jim Umpleby, our CEO, said in a corporate press release that we are doubling our services sales by the year 2026. We're more and more focused on helping our customers operate safe, efficient, productive job sites. So this is just one way we do it.

Justin Ganschow: And at Caterpillar Safety Services, our vision, our mission is that we impact lives. And we bring out the best in people. We're not going to rest until we're bringing everybody home safely everyday. And I believe that virtual reality is just the natural evolution of how we help our customers do that.

Dusty Weis: Caterpillar offers this program to its customers as a bundled hardware and software package. You get the gaming laptop. You get the VR headset. You get a case to carry it all in and set it up wherever you need to do it. What do you hear from your early adopters on this? Are they seeing a return on their investment?

Justin Ganschow: From presidents of companies through supervisors, frontline employees; the response has been great. Everybody loves it. It makes sense to them. And as far as return on investment, if we prevent one incident, one recordable injury, a back injury, a burn for instance; you have more than got your return on the investment for the system.

Dusty Weis: I always hate taking something like human wellbeing and putting it in a dollars and cents category. But at the end of the day, those sorts of injuries cost companies money too. And if you're able to prevent that, that's not only better for your workers' health. It's better for your company in the long term.

Justin Ganschow: It's better for their health. It's better for employee morale. It's better for retention. Interesting fact that I like to cite is that it costs about three times an employee's salary to train them. So every time you lose an employee because they feel like you're an unsafe company, they'd go to Jo Construction down the road; not only do you have to find talent to replace them, but it's a big investment in retraining them.

Dusty Weis: There are some doubters out there who insist that VR is just kind of a fad. And it's not really a long term practical tool. What makes you think that this has staying power in the industry?

Justin Ganschow: I think the draw of virtual reality comes in, the advancements we've seen, and the hardware and software just in the past couple of years. I read a report this week that said that the virtual industry is expected to grow from $8 billion in 2018 to $49 billion in 2026. That's six times growth in six year. That's because the head-mounted displays that we see, the headsets have advanced so much. They're so much more affordable. Consumers can now buy them. They're becoming mobile. So you don't have to tether to a laptop. You can set them up anywhere within just a few seconds compared to what we've seen in the past. And there's a lot more content. There's games. There's video in 360. It's much more available to people.

Justin Ganschow: And now I'm seeing it more and more across all of the industries that we serve. I go to a lot of trade shows. And I see more and more industries incorporating VRs in how they market their products and also how they train people.

Dusty Weis: In the future, how much job site training do you think will be able to be shifted into this virtual environment instead of taking place out on the real world.

Justin Ganschow: It will never replace. And I don't think it should ever replace the human interaction. We still have to focus on how we lead our people and how we communicate. But for those high-risk procedures and processes, I think that's where VR really shines because we can put people in those situations where hazards are invisible. We can put them at heights. We can put them in difficult environments where you have unstable terrain or you have changes in weather. We can change the time of day so now they have to perform these tasks at night and simulate all of those different risks and hazards that come along with it. So I think that where VR really shines.

Dusty Weis: I understand you launched this product at the World of Asphalt in Indianapolis this year. How did it go over? And what made you choose WOA as your venue to launch this.

Justin Ganschow: It was a natural fit since we focused our first module on paving safety. It just fit right in with World of Asphalt. There was a lot of fan fair. We had constant trade press coverage. Great response from the participants there at the expo. We had a constant stream of people. If they weren't using the simulation themselves, they were crowded around watching the person using this crazy new technology. And they could see what that user was experiencing on a TV screen and hear it.

Dusty Weis: And probably saw more than a few really shocked facial expressions too as people were getting jumped there by traffic?

Justin Ganschow: Absolutely. A lot of nervous laughter from the users and people taking video and photos from the sidelines.

Dusty Weis: I have a little bit of foreboding about going back and looking at my footage from this because again nobody looks intelligent when they're using a virtual reality.

Justin Ganschow: No, I took some photos that I may or may not share with you.

Dusty Weis: Oh I can't wait.

Justin Ganschow: Yeah.

Dusty Weis: Yeah, it's going to go over great on LinkedIn. Great. Can we expect to see more of the CAT Safety VR System at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2020 in Las Vegas next year?

Justin Ganschow: Well, you're just going to have to come by our exhibit and see for yourself. But there's a lot of exciting equipment and technology that'll be on display at CONEXPO-CON/AGG as well as the Global Finals of the CAT Operator Challenge.

Justin Ganschow: So right now, we've had regional competitions. And the finalists will be there facing off in an event that you don't want to miss.

Dusty Weis: Find the CAT booth at CONEXPO-CON/AGG.

Justin Ganschow: It shouldn't be hard to find.

Dusty Weis: Definitely hard to miss when you're there. Well, we'll definitely have to stop by. And I'll have to try to see if I can beat my high score at these videos.

Justin Ganschow: You bet.

Dusty Weis: It was not a great showing for me. Do you have plans to expand this program in the future? Are there other virtual reality applications for Caterpillar down the road.

Justin Ganschow: Our vision is to serve all of the core Caterpillar industries that we sell our products and solutions into. This time we're looking for partners to help us make that virtual reality an actual reality. And if any listeners are interested in being a partner, they can contact us through and click on the button in the Enquire box near the top of the page. And that'll come to me. And we can have a conversation about what that partnership may look like to develop solutions that are specific to their company or their industry.

Dusty Weis: Well it seems like the possibilities are just endless-

Justin Ganschow: Absolutely endless.

Dusty Weis: When it comes to this. There's all kinds of equipment that people can be trained on. There's all sorts of job site hazards that they could use a refresher on. So anything else to add?

Justin Ganschow: I just want to thank AEM and our loyal customers for choosing Caterpillar. And our goal is to send everyone safely home every day.

Dusty Weis: Well, me too at the end of the day here. And I'm glad to have made it out of that thing. But it really was a pleasure. It was a ton of fun. Justin Ganschow, the business development manager for Caterpillar Safety Services, thanks for joining us on the AEM Thinking Forward Podcast.

Dusty Weis: Special thanks again to Justin for giving me the chance to try that technology hands on. I don't know about you. But I find that I always get more out of the experience in person which is why AEM's fall line up of Thinking Forward events is such a great opportunity for professional development in the heavy equipment industry. Each event focuses on several areas of new and emerging technology that are going to change the way that we do business. And you get a chance not only to meet and interact with fascinating experts, but also to network with industry peers.

Dusty Weis: The next Thinking Forward event is September 10th at the Cisco Innovation Center in Toronto. IOT, big data, intergenerational workforces, a behind-the-scenes tour; they're all in the plan. There are also events in October and November in Milwaukee and St. Louis respectively, a different swathe of experts at each. But you've got to reserve your seat now. Go to to get that done.

Dusty Weis: Also the greatest networking and learning opportunity of the year is right around the corner again. AEM's annual conference is November 18th through the 20th on Marco Island in Florida. That's Southern Gulf Coast just off the Tamiami Trail if that means anything to you. The event is packed with top-notch speakers, food, a gala, and so much more. Don't delay. Visit to register.

Dusty Weis: And that is going to wrap up this edition of the AEM Thinking Forward Podcast. For more valuable industry insights, make sure you're signed up for the AEM Industry Adviser, our twice weekly e-newsletter. Visit If you need to get in touch with me, shoot me an email

Dusty Weis: The AEM Thinking Forward Podcast is brought to you by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers and produced by a Podcamp Media, branded podcast production for businesses Little Glassman does the music. And for AEM, thanks for listening. I'm Dusty Weis.