It must now be part of the landscape of St Nazaire. The chantiers de l’Atlantique «very Grand portico» is the largest production in Europe. Installed in 2013, it weighs 5,000 tons, measuring 144 m and may raise a 1,400 tonnes to more than 80 m in height.
Less well known is that it was first created in virtual reality with the assistance of crane operators, its first users. An illustration of the strategy of virtual reality / augmented reality of STX France to make a difference with foreign shipyards.
STX initiated its virtual reality strategy in 2009
« STX working on virtual reality for 5 years, including by participating in 2009 in the VR4D project (Virtual Reality for Design) driven by Clarte » remembers Jean‐Louis Dautin, Director of Clarte, centre for research and technology transfer in the field of virtual reality based in Laval, France.
« We have installed equipment within the office of STX, a small virtual reality equipment that allowed to engage the process internally, use virtual reality not as the icing on the cake, but as a real tool in the service of the office of studies, used on a daily basis. »
Several projects will then benefit from virtual reality, including the large portico of Saint Nazaire on which returns Jean‐Louis Dautin: « we worked on the workstation of the crane for which there were real issues of ergonomics. We weren’t on postural ergonomics and ergonomics of use: is the crane can clearly see the boat, is what he sees of the dock, is that its desks and dashboard are set correctly. Headquarters is necessarily real, but everything else was virtual and we were able to make a complete analysis of the field of vision to 60 m in height, and we were able to simulate the maneuvers. We did test the crane configurations. In the end, everything has changed in relation to what had been proposed in the original draft. » Philippe Piard, responsible development for the naval sectors / energy of the IRT Jules Verne adds: « crane operators were fully involved in this approach because they are the ones who are best placed to understand the problems they may have in their workplace from the positioning of the blocks that make up the ships. They were all able to give their opinion as well as a head of the ergonomics of usage and it is only after the project has been validated. »
Virtual reality, a tool of co-design with the customer for STX
If virtual reality is a great communication tool, a nice marketing tool, it is also a tool of co-design with the customer. Jean‐Louis Dautin, Director of Clarte returns to the case of the construction of MSC Preziosa: « the ship was almost built, but the client has requested to add a big slide at the level of the swimming pool located on the roof of the vessel. The design of this slide was conducted in virtual reality with the client. The contractualisation of the command of this additional equipment was made on the basis of this virtual design. » Another very direct application of virtual reality in the naval sector, the maintenance of ships. Philippe Piard said: « when STX or DCNS sells a ship, they maintain these ships, what is known in the military the MCO, with the virtual they may anticipate interventions that will take place on the ships, knowing that they are in general interventions that are very heavy. For example, the Queen Mary launched 10 years ago now will receive new engines. STX will participate in this project as a provider and will coordinate the work of intervention: they have the machine of the ship zone in their digital mockup and will be able to anticipate the different phases of the project. »
Genesis, the ship of the future, will be built augmented reality
Clarte and STX are now working on the Genesis project, project of ship of the future which is part of future investments. There again, virtual reality will intervene in design and construction of the vessel in virtual for which STX already has all the software. « We are now working on the pane augmented reality, assistance to the construction . » says Jean‐Louis Dautin, Director of Clarte that adds: « we are working on that, a shipyard, called the factory panels. Huge panels on which workers must ask elements. The objective is to help operators to ask or solder a piece on the Panel. Augmented reality, we will guide him to show him where to place his pieces on the Panel. When it is in the correct location, let’s throw him in a simple and natural procedure. This can for example be the right setting for his soldering gun, with the type of welding to achieve, the power to apply, etc » Display this information in augmented reality will be greatly simplify the work of workers, but wearing the glasses of reality frees the hands of the operator but binding rest on a long, reason for which STX and Clarte is oriented toward a visor of helmet equipped with a display of augmented reality, visor that the operator can always when it is in steps need.
« Initially, workers had plans paper, 2D. The next step was to move on 3D shots. It is already more natural to see where the room is located on the Panel. The third stage involves a Tablet who introduced him to the room in the State in which it will be once installed. An arrow shows him where to install it, then he can see how to ask the room. The last step, which is somewhat the Holy Grail of our field, these are the reality augmented on his helmet goggles » conclude Jean‐Louis Dautin.
Translation : Bing Translator