“Mutual trust is established through having a shared passion for what we do: we want to get things done – and with the best possible result.” Research Director Mika Karaila, Valmet
VR collaboration – meet up at the same machine from anywhere in the world
The opportunities of extended reality have long been monitored by Valmet and the first simple applications were implemented in 2016. Valmet’s research director got to know Leonidas at the VR morning events held by Campus Club at Tampere University of Technology.
“We decided to implement a VR collaboration with Leonidas, in other words a cooperation application that allows more than one person to meet up in the virtual world, for example over a 3D modelled paper machine, and discuss the adjustment or maintenance needs while examining the same machine part together. Our objective is for our experts to be able to help our customers remotely without having to fly to where the machine is located. Naturally, someone has to turn the wrench on site, but that can be done by our local maintenance partner after the issue and its solution have been discussed in virtual reality,” explains Valmet Research Director Mika Karaila.
The VR collaboration was developed in order to resolve a situation where the skills of Valmet experts are needed at customer plants in various locations around the world. For example, Valmet’s process expert, automation expert and mechanics expert can meet up with the client using the VR collaboration. Each has their own avatar so that people are able to recognise each other. A laser pointer can be used in the virtual space to point at a particular section of the machine so that all participants know exactly what is being discussed.
“In the testing phase, for example, we used the demo to determine the location of the emergency stop switch of a paper machine. The virtual environment allows us to easily define a location that is visible to the machine user, can be easily reached and pressed quickly in case of an emergency. Moving a switch that has been installed in the wrong place is expensive, and it is therefore worth it to find the right spot from the start,” Karaila explains.
A new way of offering remote support
The development of the VR collaboration began in summer 2017, and by autumn the product was being presented at various events. “The VR collaboration is an excellent application for the pre-marketing that is always required with new technology. With such novel procedures and equipment, it is good to be among the first to offer our customers the opportunity to get to know and learn to understand the benefits of new technology.”
The well-received demo is now being developed into a product that can be included in the Valmet service range. “Extended reality opens up new ways for us to develop our service business activities and remote support, and our aim is to integrate virtual worlds into our product concept. This was exactly the right time to get involved, as we cannot simply ignore the development of extended reality,” Karaila states.
As an added bonus, Valmet hopes that young people will come to see the engineering and industry as a tempting and motivating field as formerly parametric design has become something modelled and virtual.
Valmet recommends Leonidas for fast and agile needs
Now that the concept prototype has shown how the idea and technology work in practice, the development of the actual product can start. The agile-styled project will be finalised in a couple of months, after which the application will be trimmed according to customer comments. Valmet and its subcontractors will meet up monthly to specify the road map.
“Leonidas has eager, fun and committed employees who are a joy to work with. They understand my wishes and are skilful and fast in their work. We have a shared chat channel on Slack that we use to discuss software components and the type of equipment we should use or acquire. We can also send each other code and images of implementations. It is fun to offer people at Leonidas challenging problems that we can all learn from. Mutual trust is established through having a shared passion for what we do: we want to get things done – and with the best possible result. I am happy to recommend the services of Leonidas to others, as they are sure get the job done,” states Mika Karaila, research director at Valmet.