Articles & Case Studies

New 360° immersive visualisation centre for Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water

Posted: Wednesday 27th January 2016

With an innovative new Pod360° immersive visualisation centre, Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water is fine-tuning its design concepts, improving its teamwork, and conducting virtual site visits to far-flung locations.

As part of its new £1.7 billion AMP6 capital investment programme, Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water is identifying new ways to work more efficiently and sustainably. And a brand new immersive visualisation centre, developed by 360° projection specialists Igloo Vision, is already making a definite contribution.

Housed within a 6-metre-diameter projection cylinder, and located at Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water’s new offices at Celtic Springs Business Park near Newport, the Pod360° is being used by teams from across the organisation. For example, by projecting computer-aided design (CAD) and building information modelling (BIM) data in 360°, it is enabling engineers to step inside and fine-tune their design concepts.

By displaying Google Street View data, it is helping construction teams to get better acquainted with the details of the environments in which they will be working. And, by projecting panoramic imagery of faraway locations, it is reducing the need for multiple site visits – a particular consideration given the diverse geography of Wales.

It was decided that the Pod360° system, developed by Shropshire-based Igloo Vision, brought the best mix of benefits at the most competitive price. In contrast to virtual reality headsets, the Igloo solution enables entire teams to work collaboratively within the centre, with everyone viewing the same thing at the same time. And, because it uses open architecture software and standard computing components, it is possible to import a wide range of different data types and formats directly into the Igloo Vision platform.

So far, the teams using the Pod360° have begun to import their BIM models into the system, and to incorporate it into their design reviews. Meanwhile, a largely unanticipated benefit has been the projection of Google Street View data, which is improving planning processes.

For example, by travelling virtually around a proposed construction site, teams can work together to discuss traffic management issues, plan routes, understand lines of sight, manage risks, and consider ways to minimise the impact on nearby residents. And, going forward, Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water’s design data is being overlaid directly onto the Google imagery.

“We have been impressed by how easy it is to use the system, and how straightforward it is to incorporate and visualise a wide range of different imagery, BIM models and associated 3D data,” says Design Manager Anne Carroll, who is a member of Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water’s AMP6 Capital Delivery Alliance leadership team.

The priority going forward is to ensure that the Pod360° becomes established as a practical, everyday planning tool that saves time and money, improves the quality of Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water’s engineering and construction work, and is routinely used across the organisation. To this end, Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water is organising a series of training days for engineers and designers, which demonstrate the capabilities of the system and show how, using a simple smartphone or tablet interface, anyone can quickly learn how to operate it.

Having originally installed the Pod360° in July 2015, Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water worked with Igloo Vision to configure the system to meet the company’s particular needs. By the end of the summer, it was being used around 25% of the time and the aim is to quickly increase this to 100%.

“Within the next five years we will be investing £1.7 billion in our infrastructure, and have made a commitment to do so safely, efficiently and sustainably. Looking at emerging technologies, and investing in tools like the Pod360°, is one way that we can live up to this promise,” says Anne Carroll.

Igloo Vision started out by creating immersive dance venues at music festivals. Although the company still delivers some cultural and corporate events, most of its work is now in the fields of visualisation and simulation.

It has installed systems around the world and, alongside Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water, works with clients such as BP, Skanska, Arup, CH2MHILL, Capita, The Hong Kong Academy of Medicine and the British Army.

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