The Korea Institute of Machinery & Materials (KIMM) announced on December 13 that it developed a VR simulator for training workers for tough environments as accident sites at chemical plants, and the operation of special work equipment by making use of virtual reality (VR) technology.
Dr. Cha Moo-hyun of the System Reliability Laboratory at the KIMM developed a 'virtual training system and high immersive human interface technology' based on the information on the supposition that an accident takes place after analyzing operation processes of machines precisely. The technology is a safety response training system that combines VR contents with treadmills and virtual devices. Unlike the current simulator which is mostly used for visual training, the new simulator enables a trainee to work on a treadmill, use both hands and train in a more realistic environment.
That is to say, a worker stands on a moving treadmill and train while seeing images of accident sites or worksites through a high-resolution large-sized screen before his or her eyes. At this time, the movements of the trainee's eyes, arms, and legs are applied to the operation of a fire hydrant, a control panel, and valves in VR contents in real time through motion recognition. In addition, by having a virtual experience to directly move to facility sites on a treadmill, the trainee can grasp distances among facilities and expect working time.
To achieve this, the research team built a static virtual environment based on a 3D CAD model of mechanical facilities and a dynamic virtual environment that changed in real time according to the operation of a trainee or the operation of the facilities.
In particular, the team applied mechanical engineering simulation techniques to create a more realistic accident situation. This is because the team could realize training the same effects as at real worksites only if the simulation is based on the physical movements of mechanical devices such as fires, explosion, and gas leaks.
The system can also be used to train workers about using large machinery such as special machines or construction machines. In fact, at a workplace where such equipment is used, fatal accidents such as collisions and getting caught by machines occur to one person per three days. This is because there is a limit in perceiving danger factors around equipment when workers use equipment without sufficient experience of using it under tough working conditions such as those at construction sites.
But this system can save companies hundreds of millions of own when they train their workers about numerous situations. This allows workers to enhance their skills and ability and prevent accidents. On top of that, this technology can be applied to various fields such as military training, medical rehabilitation treatment, and sports skill improvement in the future.
"In light of ensuring the safety of high-risk mechanical facilities such as chemical plants, not only is accident prevention important, but drills are needed to prompt workers’ to accurately respond when accidents occur," said Dr. Cha. "Simulation-based training based on virtual reality will contribute to reducing the risk of accidents."