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Feature VIRTUAL ENGINEERING


VIRTUAL ENGINEERING METHODS TO HELP COMMUNICATION


Working within the exacting standards of the nuclear industry means that innovation and improvement in working practices is always welcome. But how do you improve communication between technical and non-technical project contributors on a project?


O


ne increasingly adopted solution is the use of visually engaging 3D animations. These can show the important steps during


construction, commissioning, maintenance or decommissioning of a major project. Visualisations such as these can be used from the tendering stage onwards to demonstrate exactly how a project will be implemented, enabling informed discussion, assessment of health and safety issues and ultimately assist in site construction briefings.


Although significant progress has been made recently in the use of intelligent 3D CAD, offering excellent productivity tools such as simulation, analysis, databases and reports, these tools are complex and remain largely in the hands of skilled engineers and technicians. For project members who do not always fully understand technical drawings and reports, but still need a detailed overview, a lot of explanation and supporting information is still required. This overview can now be helped using new 3D visualisation techniques such as those produced by Virtual Engineering.


Everyone is familiar with the power of 3D animation for telling a story within the television, gaming and film industries – the reason being that 3D animation excels beyond all else in its ability to visually show something which otherwise does not exist. By applying the storytelling skills of the media industries to the specialist needs of the nuclear and engineering industries, it is possible to deliver a powerful and clear message about a project. Difficult information or complex processes can be demonstrated in a way which is engaging, but crucially


technically accurate and applicable to all skill levels.


A recent practical example of this in use was at the planning stage on a hazardous construction site, to convince stakeholders that a crane would be used appropriately and in the safest possible manner. The previous solution would have been to present them with numerous technical drawings highlighting the crane’s operational safe areas, producing documentation detailing the crane’s model and specification, then additional written material explaining how the crane would operate on site. This information would then be analysed and interpreted to the key decision-makers, and no doubt there would be concerns and clarification needed further down the line.


So how did a short 3D animation assist in this process?


Firstly, it visually highlighted how a selection of different sized cranes (modelled to the exact specifications) would be operating on site in the context of surrounding hazards. Visualising this was an effective way to communicate how the designers had understood the requirement to use the smallest machinery possible to complete the construction. Additionally, the 3D animation went on to show how two cranes would work together on different parts of the construction, and how the proposed method required them to overlap and work in tandem. Crucially though, the 3D animation was produced in such an engaging and non-technical manner that, in just a few minutes of viewing, whoever watched it could understand what was being proposed – providing an unparalleled platform for discussing the project.


This is just a brief example of the many varied applications of this type of presentation. 3D animations are now being used to bring to life written method statements, visualise engineering processes, demonstrate construction sequences, create visual impact studies, make site and staff inductions, illustrate hazard awareness and promote health and safety in the workplace.


As with any innovation in its infancy, so far there are only a few companies able to offer this kind of specialist service, as it requires both the technical know-how and the creative skills to realise and bring these processes to life. Virtual Engineering is already well established in improving the communication of technical tasks to all those involved on a project.


For further information, please contact:


Matthew Sugden, Virtual Engineering Division, Virtual Living Ltd


The Grove, Serpentine Walk, Lytham, Lancashire, FY8 5PB


Tel: 01253 739737 / 07968 353989 matt@virtual-living.co.uk www.virtual-engineering.co.uk


NuclearCONNECT 45


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