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ALSTOM : Improving design process with 3D “virtual reality” rooms

01/07/2014 | 06:02am US/Eastern
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A new virtual reality system was recently installed at Alstom Thermal Power facility in Baden (Switzerland). This kind of facility helps engineers to show product and plant designs in precise, life-size detail.

Using a cluster of computers coupled with motion tracking systems and a 6-by-2.5 m screen, the audience can review and showcase products and mechanical simulations in real-scale 3D imagery. The virtual reality room has been operational since October 2013. Similar rooms exist at Alstom's Transport and Thermal Service sites in Saint-Ouen and La Courneuve, near Paris.

Using a "FlyStick" and wearing 3D glasses whose motion is followed by tracking cameras, users can examine power plants, turbine models, components or simulations in detail. This allows users to "walk" inside a power plant or manipulate CAD* models in real-time. Engineers can view products in their actual size and can better judge how components will fit into the final product in the context of the design calculations. Commissioning engineers can use the system to measure the walkways in plants, which will have an influence on safety.

Typical uses of the systems are product reviews, simulation analyses, field service training, sales and marketing showcases, and interactions with customers and suppliers.

The use is very intuitive and only a couple of training hours is needed to handle the system.

*CAD: Computer-aided design

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