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Virtual Reality cuts design time at GE Power

24 February 2017

GE Power invested in VR technology and soon found it yielded substantial dividends.

In 2013, Virtalis installed an ActiveWall 3D/VR display system at GE’s Baden site, and the team there is now also running Virtalis Visionary Render software.

GE Power Technical Product Manager, Deepu Sebastian, said: “In the design of new power plant projects, we found that the designing process has significantly improved with VR. Our engineers’ ability to immerse themselves and explore and interact with the design at 1:1 scale was enabling them to come up with more imaginative designs and communicate ideas better to potential customers.”

GE Power’s design methodology typically involves multiple teams, each working on different components of a power plant, commented Sebastian. “Discovering that some of the components didn’t quite fit together during construction is expensive. Resolving this through re-design was expected and it is this part of the process that we have managed to eradicate, thanks to VR technology. Our design engineers are now fixing errors before construction, when costs are insignificant, and they are also able to think ahead about issues like servicing and maintenance.”

As GE Power’s design reviews involve an average of 8-10 engineers, it was apparent that the ActiveWall, the most ubiquitous of Virtalis’ 3D/VR display systems, provided the best working environment for team working. ActiveWall draws on active stereo technology and features a custom screen, specialist computer, Virtalis custom software and powerful projectors. GE Power has a blended four projector ActiveWall with a 6m x 2.4m screen, plus an ART tracking system.

“Tracking was important to us”, said Sebastian, “we needed to be able to navigate round the model and manipulate it. We’ve been using Visionary Render for only a few months so now we can work on multiple VR models to aid comparison and then make changes in VR that allow us to challenge and improve our original CAD datasets. In fact, I suspect that so far we have barely scratched the surface of the software’s extensive capabilities.” Virtalis Visionary Render software allows engineers to access and experience a real-time, collaborative, and immersive Virtual Reality (VR) environment created from huge multi-source 3D datasets.

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