21 October ‘20

Virtual reality for industrial safety

The simulator is located on the site of the "Safety School" – a unique training ground for practicing work safety skills. At the school, employees can hone their gas environment skills, first aid administration skills, fire extinguishing skills, as well as the basic safety procedures for working at heights etc.. On the initiative of MMK's Department for Labour Protection, Industrial Safety and Ecology, the Safety School began using virtual reality technologies to identify violations and dangerous actions at various locations. In fact, the system virtually tests the employee's knowledge of work labour protection rules. There are two zones equipped with virtual reality glasses, headphones, joysticks and a TV panel for the teacher to show visualisations of actions at the site.

For the implementation of this project, a specialist company and resident of Skolkovo, OMW, was hired to carry out the shooting and production of computer graphics. In order to hone their skills in assessing risks in the workplace, employees from various departments and locations were selected, including workers from the oxygen converter shop, the coke shop, sheet rolling shops No. 10 and 11, and the engine room. At each location, the real production sites have been reproduced as accurately as possible – this was one of the main tasks for the developers.

When taking the test, the employee, arriving at the location, sees certain violations of safety rules or dangerous actions and records them on the tablet. For example, the situations include goods being moved by cranes, violations related to the placement of various foreign objects on the work site, violations related to the use of personal protective equipment and the condition of equipment. After violations are found and marked, the employee can see a summary table of all violations. An employee can take the test as many times as necessary until the desired result is achieved.

The use of virtual reality technology was highly appreciated by the heads of departments whose locations are presented on the simulator. The effectiveness of employee training has increased several fold, since no amount of knowledge of labour protection rules, gleaned from books and instructions, can replace the experience of being immersed in the virtual reality of specific production sites. This is especially true for those who are being instructed for the first time before starting a job. It will be much easier for a future employee to navigate a real industrial site after they have visited it virtually.

MMK plans to further develop the use of virtual reality for safety training. Currently, specialists of MMK's Department for Labour Protection and Industrial Safety, together with developers, are creating a location for the safe performance of dangerous technological operations, such as rigging various loads. In the previous locations, the employee only observes and identifies any risks (or violations) associated with the state of the workplace and the violation of rules by employees while performing certain tasks. In the new location under development, it will be possible to use various tools and devices, give commands to the crane driver, etc..

The use of the VR simulator, along with MMK's other digital transformation projects, is part of the Industry 4.0 strategic initiative being implemented at the plant. Digitalisation projects consistently demonstrate their high efficiency, providing increased productivity, reducing costs and improving personnel safety.

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