From gaming to research, virtual reality is becoming more prevalent worldwide, and the resources sector has capitalised on its applications, using it to train new workers and assist in site planning.
Tan Ninety’s PlantVR technology is one such system, capturing plant and equipment information for personnel training and to enhance safety on site.
It features a 3D interactive photo viewer application, akin to Google Street View, that captures 360° photographs which are then acquired, processed with site map integration, and uploaded to an image database.
The photo viewer can be accessed by employees on any computer or mobile device that has the image database capturing site with the information providing a higher image density than street view.
Nik Kumar, senior technical at Tan Ninety, told Australian Mining the image database is similar to Street View, adding, “Static images are taken and updated periodically when warranted by changes in equipment or plant structure.”
The application can be used for both fixed and mobile plant and enhances planning for remote operations, managing risks before any site operators conduct particular tasks. It provides consolidated information and can be implemented at a centralised location, enabling time to be spent efficiently planning maintenance tasks.
Kumar said the viewer has already been used in the iron ore industry, and does not require the use of often expensive 3D CAD scanners or additional software.
It also reduces time and costs associated with travelling to remote sites.
Research has also been conducted to measure how successful VR is for training miners.
In 2015, the University of Wollongong partnered with Coal Services to assess its effectiveness, using Coal Services’ virtual reality room equipped with a screen 4m high and 10m in diameter, with 12 cameras projecting 3D images with surround sound. It is hoped the study will improve the quality of training for the mining industry.
Kumar went on to say that VR is an exciting and rapidly developing field.
“The shift to digital in the industry is evident and although initially challenging, it has been interesting seeing the integration of VR technology within the workforce,” he said.
“As new technologies emerge, the advent of controlling live streaming 360 video and interacting with the new environment through VR goggles is a possibility in the near future.
“The shift to digital is evident so it won’t be long before there is mass adoption and users realise the benefit of adopting early.”