The Background.

Booth Welsh have been developing various Industry 4.0 solutions and Extended Reality packages (XR incorporating VR & AR) for the past 18 months.

This has led to a natural evolution of the software we create. For example, starting with 3D mockups, the design is optimised for transition over to the VR platform which enables us to develop very accurate VR and AR environments, quickly and cost effectively. One of the next beneficial stages of development is to incorporate this technology into training scenarios and packages for training and upskilling staff.

The Client

This project was undertaken as part of an initiative from the Booth Welsh Innovation & Digitalisation Strategy Pillar and was designed to showcase / further develop our digital solutions for industry with particular focus on Virtual & Augmented Reality (VR & AR) and Data acquisition.

The Solution.

In order to create VR training packages, we first needed to create accurate CAD models of both the chosen environment and the equipment that the user would interact with.

In this example, we chose an offshore Oil & Gas platform as the industrial training environment. To showcase the ‘art of the possible’ we chose a simple maintenance task – gasket replacement within a pipework spool piece.  The model design process involved the creation of the Oil & Gas platform structure, the pipework, spool piece and all required hand tools, all in 1:1 scale and with high resolution textures.

These models were then carefully optimised for use within our bespoke VR environment. Internally developed techniques were then used to import the models into the VR environment adding more textures, area lighting, and 3D sound where applicable.

Using custom scripting and design, the equipment and tooling were configured to be fully interactive to enable the user to follow the work instructions step-by-step in virtual mode, providing a full virtual simulation of the gasket changing exercise in an extremely immersive and realistic manner.

The program was extensively bug tested to ensure there were no issues and then trialled with various staff members, both technical and non-technical. The result is that the VR training concept has proven to be very popular with our staff, clients and academia during visits, in-house demos, and STEM events.

The Benefits.

Staff can be trained in complex procedures whilst in a safe and controlled environment with no risk to themselves or equipment.

Training can be carried out anywhere, even before the equipment is physically built or installed.

VR simulations have the potential to reduce the requirement of site-based travel for training of staff as the software can be easily deployed, anywhere, using the correct hardware.

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The latest developments in VR peripherals and computing are bringing down the price of hardware making this type of training solution more accessible and attractive.

The process is easily configured to add in real-life “events” to simulate a change to the normal situation thus training the operator on how to overcome this. For example, HVAC failure or an alarm event.

This technology can also be applied to test and/or verify the competency of the operator or technician and be linked to other systems for authorisation purposes, e.g. to access procedures or operate equipment.