Case Study: Bringing Substations into the Office with Virtual Reality
DMI, NRECA (National Rural Electric Cooperative Association), and Jo-Carroll Energy teamed up to explore the benefits of using virtual reality at rural electric cooperative substations.
“The project paid for itself in just over two years, solely from reduced drive time of the more than 30 staff who have used VR. The substation selected for the immersive VR is about 50 miles from JCE’s headquarters. Savings from eliminating the need to have staff drive several hours for each training session added up quickly. Other benefits are significant, but harder to quantify. “How do you know the payback on safety and doing the training in a non-hazardous VR environment?” said Skinner. For example, he explained, “Every time you go to a substation with a whole crew, you’re going to go over the safety details – what the voltages are, what kind of physical hazards are potentially there, and so on. Most substations are full of rocks. It’s not a smooth surface; there are tripping hazards. There’s a whole bunch of equipment that you can bump into.” JCE sees that being able to do the training in the office, a non-hazardous area, is a huge advantage.
Another benefit of the VR training is increased productivity. Crews can do the training on bad weather days, when they are not able to work outside. And, by having the training available in the office, staff who do not normally go to substations can see what the experience is like. JCE also uses consultant engineers who can access the desktop VR tools from their desks. One project has already reduced engineering hours by more than the cost of the 3D scan.”