A new age for the simulation of gestures and processes
Virtual reality refers to the multimedia devices that enable you to immerse yourself in a 3D environment generated by a computer, projected on a screen or through a specifically designed headset like the mass-market Oculus Rift. The sensation of immersion is further increased by the user's ability to interact with this environment not only via visual and auditory stimuli, but also tactile – meaning simulating the feeling of touch and "force feedback" (kinesthesia). In industry, these technologies are now applied at different sections in the chain, enabling future real conditions to be anticipated – in the design of parts and products to the ergonomics of workstations, and even reaching operator training and instruction.
€300,000 savings generated by Safran Nacelles’ virtual reality room, paying back its investment in less than a year
A few concrete applications at Safran
The Safran Nacelles site in Le Havre has the honor of being the Group’s pioneer when it comes to virtual reality. When the A330neo program was launched in 2014, requiring an accelerated pace, virtual reality was used to develop new nacelles in only 42 months (compared to 60 for the A320neo nacelles). Modelling this new production line, with the assistance of its future operators, also reduced the budget needed for tooling by 10% thanks to upstream optimization of its organization. Now Safran Nacelles has deployed this technology at several of its sites in France and abroad, such as Burnley (United Kingdom), Casablanca (Morocco) and Paris-Saclay.
This form of digitization will be increased Safran wide, with the objective of implementing virtual reality devices in each site, opening up new horizons for working together. Other companies in the Group are already working to apply this innovation.
Safran Aircraft Engines, for example, has developed MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Operations) training for a LEAP engine module. This virtual reality training course was developed to teach employees how to replace the turbine rings on the high-pressure modules of the LEAP engine during a shop visit. It allows the mechanic to be trained in a virtual environment, freed from limitations related to parts availability and the physical tools of the workshop. There are two learning modes to help mechanics learn the correct working methods: with and without assistance. Training time has been reduced by 40% as a result. Virtual Reality training helps in refreshing employees’ knowledge of the operations that should be performed before a module comes into the workshop. The course is available in several languages, making it accessible to all of the workshops of the Safran MRO network.
Developed with the specialized French group ESI, the Safran Nacelles virtual reality room is comprised of 2 screens, measuring 4 meters by 2.5 meters, with one horizontal to the ground to help the immersion process for engineers, technicians and operators. Equipped with dynamic 3D goggles that adapt the image according to their position, users can visualize, at one-to-one scale, the parts designed using the CAD software, or work on the ergonomics and movements using virtual mannequins.
© Adrien Daste / Safran
© Philippe Stroppa / Safran
© Adrien Daste / Safran