19 Temmuz 2006 Çarşamba

Virtual Reality Aid Submarine Manufacture

Submarine builder is currently deploying advanced visualisation software in what is thought to be the very first 'manufacturing floor' use of Stereo virtual reality by a shipyard.

BAE Systems Submarines, helped by Virtalis, the advanced visualisation specialists, is currently deploying advanced visualisation facilities for the manufacture of the Astute Class of submarine in Barrow-in-Furness, England. It is thought that this is the very first 'manufacturing floor' use of Stereo VR. Just as unusual is the fact that the cabin-based systems are being operated, not by the IT department, but by people whose main role is building the submarine.



Chris Foote is a full-time pipe fitter, who also regularly operates one of the cabin systems.

He is one member of a team of people who keep this resource open as required.

He said: 'People just drop in and look at the compartment they are working on.

Sometimes they stay ten minutes, sometimes they stay an hour.

If there is a particular problem they are wrestling with, they might pre-book a cabin.

I drive the system for them, but, because I have manufacturing and boat building experience rather than an IT background, I can bring my practical experience to bear.' The construction of the Astute Class is a tremendous technical challenge.

Three boats have been ordered by the Royal Navy, with the first being launched in summer 2007.

Not only is it more complex than any attack submarine previously built in the UK, but also there is no physical prototype and the project has seen the successful introduction of modular build techniques.

The use of advanced visualisation enables all those working on the vessel to view the 3D virtual models in accessible cabins locally positioned on gantries surrounding the boat, providing a direct replacement for expensive physical models.

Both Astute, whose hull is complete and is now being fitted out, and Ambush, which is at the vertical outfitting stage, each have a dedicated VR cabin, though each is capable of running the other's models should one cabin be booked or unavailable for some reason.

Dean Brown is one of Foote's colleagues.

His role is to oversee quality control.

He commented: 'I have worked with physical models and they were not always available when there had been design changes.

Also, the physical models were just Perspex and colour-coded plastics.

The VR models give you a very real sense of the boat from the inside.

People can literally stop by and walk through the exact area they are building.' Keith Livingston, support manager for CAD/CAM application at bae systems Submarines, commented: 'A very important aspect of these new VR facilities is that they provide real time access to the virtual model and related engineering data.

The images are mainly rear projected, which not only protects the equipment from a harsh environment, but also allows our workforce to interact with the virtual models without interfering with the projected image.

Virtalis has also carried out work optimising the data production process for the models we create - this not only improves the performance of the VR Cabins, but shaves off valuable minutes of load time for the desktop 3D available to all the Astute engineers.' Virtalis has supplied BAE with two Virtual Reality (VR) enabled cabins and three VR suites, each consisting of Christie projectors driven by server PCs.

When the project was at an early stage and only part completed, it won a prestigious BAE Systems Submarines Chairman's Bronze Award in 2005.

Ian Millard, applications engineer responsible for the implementation of the new advanced visualisation cabins and suites at BAE Systems Submarines, said: 'These new facilities can be used in future to support the Astute through its service for refits and even for training purposes.' A VR software system, PTC DIVISION MockUp, was installed and customised by Virtalis to create animations of major events in a boat's build, before they are shown to up to 50 people involved with a particular part of the build.

Unlike other VR software packages, PTC MockUp enables viewing of large areas of the boat.

The VR models highlight potential clashes and, if need be, a redesign can be performed prior to the build.

To ensure the VR cabins and suites are almost always available and to maximise BAE Systems return on investment, 30 personnel have been trained how to run the software and operate the VR equipment.

http://www.manufacturingtalk.com/news/vrt/vrt113.html

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