Immersive virtual reality comes to industrial training

EYESim gaming simulator from Invensys Operations Management allows operators 3D access to process control scenarios



Players of 3D games like Halo may one day get to find out what it's like to roam the scaffolding of an oil refinery putting out fires, literally and figuratively. Today, though, some industrial process engineers are experiencing game-like virtual reality simulators to get trained for their jobs. Invensys Operations Management announced the commercial availability of its new EYESim virtual reality immersive training solution, the first industrial virtual reality training solution based on first-principle simulation and augmented reality,

EYESim technology enables engineers and operators to see and safely interact with the plant and the processes they control. It combines virtual reality technologies with high-fidelity process and control simulation, computer-based maintenance and documentation management and other applications to provide a highly realistic-and completely safe-training environment. Simulations are driven by Invensys' Dynsim process simulator, FSIM Plus software, I/A Series control system emulation, and other compatible programs.

Just as flight simulators have taken the risk out of training exercises, EYEsim technology provides engineers not just procedural information, but actual experiential learning. "An eight-hour plant start-up procedure can include 250 tasks, with more than 100 that need to be done in the field," explains Tobias Scheele, vice president, advanced applications, Invensys Operations Management. "The virtual environment links control room operators to field operators to maintenance operators, as if they are on site and provides a stable, realistic environment for practicing specific functions. Trainees get not only the knowledge, but also the skills."
Users can practice routine procedures as well as rarely performed volatile tasks such as plant shutdowns. In addition, using computer models of real equipment allows experimentation without taking the equipment off line. This mitigates risk to production as well.

By merging virtual plant imagery with screens from asset management or other application software, the Invensys solution creates a computer-generated representation of either a real or proposed process plant. Using a stereoscopic headset, trainees enter a completely immersive environment in which they can move throughout the plant. Such freedom is possible because the virtual environment is rendered at 60 frames per second, significantly faster than what can be achieved by traditional, non real-time rendering.


The virtual reality station uses a commercial off the shelf (COTS) high-speed PC with a specialized graphics card that enables stereoscopic graphics processing at 120 Hertz (double typical laptop speeds). A COTS stereoscopic projector is needed, as are powered virtual reality glasses that communicate with a receiver like a Wii remote control. Glasses are expensive-about $600 each-but the projector is only about $4,000.

Creating the virtual reality environment of the plant can be the greatest expense, but the process is helped tremendously by DynSim modeling software. The demonstration system, which Invensys showed at its North America Client Conference in Houston, September 21 to 24, was the result of collaboration with a French refinery that already had extensive DynSim models of its plant. The system shown required more than 1,800 photographs of the plant to be combined with the models, and took four developers about five months to complete, said Scheele. The extensive walkthrough areas shown were still only one-fifth of the full refinery complex.

Scheele said EYESim technology is geared toward the energy, chemical, oil and gas, and other vital process industries as they face knowledge management, training and retention challenges brought on by an aging and dwindling industry workforce. Using and applying gaming and other skill sets, the EYESim solution could help with getting the next generation of engineers interested in process control applications


Invensys Operator Training Simulation

Invensys Operations Management

- Edited by Renee Robbins, senior editor
Control Engineering News Desk

HMI, Operator Interface, SCADA news from Control Engineering

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
2015 Mid-Year Report: Manufacturing's newest tool: In a digital age, digits will play a key role in the plant of the future; Ethernet certification; Mitigate harmonics; World class maintenance
2015 Lubrication Guide: Green and gold in lubrication: Environmentally friendly fluids and sealing systems offer a new perspective
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Cyber security attack: The threat is real; Hacking O&G control systems: Understanding the cyber risk; The active cyber defense cycle
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths
New industrial buildings: Greener, cleaner, leaner; New building designs for industry; Take a new look at absorption cooling; Offshored jobs start to come back

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.