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Virtual Reality yields £1,890,000 of savings at Rolls-Royce Nuclear

21 May 2018

Last year, Rolls-Royce Nuclear installed a £350,000 4k resolution ActiveWall VR display system from Virtalis, as well as VR engineering software, Visionary Render.

William Lord, pre-production delivery manager at Rolls-Royce, explained: “We were very careful to document our savings and the £1.89 million that we avoided spending in design and lay-out accrued from just 30 issues identified. This doesn’t encapsulate the extra benefits we generated from time reduction or the negation of risk. There are intangible benefits too, as the virtual world is where senior managers and apprentices can meet on equal terms. The improved communication has streamlined product flow around our factory, helped us manage resources and mitigated manufacturing bottlenecks.”

The Virtalis ActiveWall is an installed, immersive, interactive 3D visualisation system that draws on active stereo technology and features a custom screen, specialist computer, Virtalis custom software and powerful projectors. Movements within the ActiveWall environment are tracked using an integrated tracking system. The user can navigate through the virtual world, pick and manipulate component parts in real-time and make decisions on the fly.

When an ActiveWall, which allows users to experience the virtual world at 1:1 scale, is loaded with Visionary Render software, users can explore large CAD models in stereoscopic 3D in a real-time, interactive and immersive VR environment.  Visionary Render delivers advanced rendering of huge models in real-time with ease of importing from a range of data sources, maintaining naming hierarchies and the all-important metadata.

Tim Williams-Wood, Rolls-Royce Plc’s Chief of Manufacturing Systems for Virtual Factory Design & Commissioning, said: “The last year has been all about testing the technology within Rolls-Royce, confirming its ability to deliver value and exploring the potential for further roll-out across the Group. We have, for example, also been looking at ActiveMove CVR, Virtalis’ hardware and software platforms that could be used to bring relatively low-cost VR to engineers at their desks. We believe that the use of Advanced Visualisation technologies, including VR, have the potential to revolutionise the way we engineer and deliver our products, as well as our operations and services.”

Around 20 people can use the ActiveWall at one time which means there can be cross-disciplinary team co-ordination. People from different functions can, for example, assess how a product can be handled within a virtual cell before a single penny is spent in the real world. Lord added: “It’s helped us with tooling, which you’d expect, but it has also helped us analyse headcounts and resource loads so, crucially, we can find where the biggest constraints are. In a virtual world we can change things in seconds to find the best solution.”

To ensure the engineers of the future are all au fait with VR technology and its effect on both design and manufacturing processes, all Rolls-Royce Nuclear apprentices spend three months working out of the VR suite in Derby. During that time, they get to follow a product through from conception to the finished article. “Eventually, these apprentices will become our technological ambassadors”, said Lord.

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