Virtalis ActiveWall Multi-Location Design Reviews Accelerate Development Schedules at CNH
VIRTALIS, a leading Virtual Reality (VR) company, has just installed an ActiveWall HD immersive visualization suite at CNH’s facility in Zedelgem, Belgium.
The Virtalis ActiveWall HD configuration in CNH Zedelgem’s custom-built building boasts a massive 25ft by 14ft PowerWall which has been slightly sunken into the floor so that the combine harvesters and balers can drive out of the wall in full stereoscopic 3D, provided by a Christie Mirage HD18 projector. Virtalis implemented a tailored Intersense IS900 Wired VETracker system, so that natural movement around the virtual models is maximised. The Head Mounted Displays (HMDs) chosen were nVisor SXs with from NVIS. Since the virtual models CNH creates have more than 20,000 parts, compute power and graphics rendering capability are vital. The latest Virtalis systems at CNH feature a 64-bit, quad-core workstation coupled with an NVIDIA FX5600 graphics card. “We use our virtual reality systems on a daily basis to conduct collaborative design reviews,” explains Kezhun Li, Head of Digital Prototyping and Simulation at CNH. “In Belgium, the focus is on the development of forage harvesters, large hay-balers and European combines. The fact that we’ve now managed to link up our team in Belgium with their international colleagues, especially those in Lancaster where similar product lines are developed, has led to a great deal less international travel and accelerated development schedules.”
“With the ability to adjust everything on screen, we’ve quickly become less forgiving of rework and have already had great success with our safety reviews for our new combines,” comments Jeroen De Neve, Simulation Engineer at CNH, Belgium. “The fact that we were able to hold these safety reviews at three locations simultaneously undoubtedly saved a great deal of time. We were concerned about the position of service steps and whether they were sufficiently far from hot components and rails. We were able to measure the actual distance on the virtual model, so what would have become an “action item” on an agenda was addressed straight away. In the span of only two or three hours, we completed the whole collaborative process, without anyone traveling and with answers nine months before the launch.”
The CNH team has also used its ActiveWall to develop new cabs and to carry out styling reviews for the products designed in Zedelgem. Virtual Reality is used all over the world for design and milestone reviews, but CNH is also using its Virtalis systems for market research and marketing. Each new program hosts a couple of day-long focus groups where the interior and exterior styling, initial impressions and control positions and visibility are all monitored. “We prepared a list of questions,” says De Neve, “and were able to offer our customers several possible designs. We are driven by our customers’ needs, and VR has helped us to get closer to our customer base and to get their buy-in.”
“The latest Zedelgem installation is so intuitive to use, there is no need for a dedicated VR expert to run it,” adds Li.“The technology’s accessibility allows our users to work hands-on. With the help of Virtalis’ design expertise and high-level components, CNH is able to dedicate time to the important goal of world class design and productivity.”