By using virtual reality (VR) headsets, electrical engineers can work stress-free in a simulated environment.
About years ago, VR Vision and Avangrid began our second development for technician training, this time recreating a full power electrical substation grid to teach technicians on the process for maintenance and repairs.
What started out as a pilot has scaled into a fully immersive training tool built on standalone VR and optimized for the Oculus Quest 2. The simulation takes the user from the start of entering an electrical substation transformer grid all the way through the maintenance procedure to ensure power is passing properly through the grid and into our homes.
This is the first time electrical substation training has been developed in virtual reality and we have been really impressed with the feedback thus far. Avangrid has shown that they are looking to the future by adopting the latest immersive learning technologies for their technicians, and now have a scalable training solution that will allow them to train their technicians safely and from anywhere in the world. This equates to potentially millions saved in travel expenses as well as reduced liability from accidents that may happen on the job.
Preview of Substation Training Module
Once the user puts on the headset they are taken to a virtual substation that is a 1 to 1 replica of a real-world substation used for training exercises. The users learn the ins and outs of how electricity is transmitted at very high voltages as well as low currents to reduce the heat, eddy currents, and other transmission losses. They are also able to take a full walk-through of the substations to learn various power distribution methods and study up on voltages, transformers, as well as transmission nodes. All of this is very specialized but provides tremendous value as it eliminates risk altogether and gives students the ability to learn anywhere in the world.
There are some key concepts that must be taught to new technicians for substation maintenance — and one of the main ones is to be aware of your surroundings. It is common practice to keep your hands below your shoulders or even in your pockets to stay grounded and avoid any dangerous mishaps. Another important element of substation training is personal protective equipment or PPE’s. For example, flame-resistant clothing to protect against arc flashes should be worn at all times.
Another common practice is to notify the dispatch center or substation controller before entering and leaving the substation — this is a normal industry practice in case something goes wrong and to ensure you can be cared for properly in the event of an incident. Groups can benefit from using virtual reality in this medium for training in that it allows for full replayability and avoids any harm that would come from making mistakes in the real world — something that is hard to put a price on.
There are countless benefits to using technology for training team members, whether it’s for safety, technical replayability, or having the ability to have a VR headset sent anywhere in the world for training. This effectively can eliminate a lot of travel costs associated with flying technicians to training facilities.