Process plants have useful lives of thirty to fifty years, during which time they are routinely retrofitted. Virtual reality software simplifies and helps keep track of retrofit planning and testing. Fraunhofer researchers and BASF SE are jointly developing VR solutions for the plant life cycle.
With over 110 000 employees, BASF is the world's largest chemical company. At its headquarters in Ludwigshafen, the company runs over 160 production facilities, two steam crackers, two gas and steam turbine power plants and one sewage treatment plant. Virtual technologies are helping make information and data on every plant on the premises available digitally to planning engineers, process engineers, assembly coordinators, safety experts and asset managers. A virtual copy of a plant displays every possible view, whether in graphics or figures, in drawings or simulations. This expedites and improves the planning and implementation of new plants or additions and retrofits.
Design reviews are an integral part of the planning process - a virtual model for design reviews realistically reproduces every component with the information related to it. The spatial representation makes hidden components or components aligned behind one another easily viewable. "We reviewed the design of a process plant retrofit together with BASF experts," reports Sabine Szyler, virtual reality specialist at the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF. "The space in the plant can be determined far more easily. What sounds so obvious is really a giant leap in perception."
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