Virtual Reality software allows ICD to create immersive digital twins of the built environment. It’s also a powerful tool for measurement and visualisation of engineering challenges.

Virtual Reality (VR) is undergoing an explosion of interest as the hardware catches up with the hype and many of the previous limitations such as bulky headsets and latency-induced “VR sickness” begin to fall away.

Rather than building new worlds for VR like game developers do, ICD creates VR “digital twins”; accurate representations of the built environment based on 3D laser scans. These digital twins simulate client machinery, industrial plant and surrounding sites for use in design reviews, training and site familiarisation.

The expertise gained through these projects now allows ICD to offer additional value to traditional engineering problems, using the same software to perform accurate measurements and calculations of the scanned environment.

Tank farms are an area ICD has been working in for decades. ICD’s engineers provide services for the design, installation and maintenance of storage tanks and associated equipment across a range of hazardous and non-hazardous materials, from aviation fuel to alcohol and drinking water.

To protect against major spill events, fuel tanks are surrounded by bunds; impermeable walls built around the tank to contain the loss of a defined percentage of tank contents.

Tank failures can cause damage to property, environment and put people in danger. By surrounding tanks with bunding, spills are contained and risks can be mitigated. AS 1940-1993  (storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids) requires bund volume to be 133% of the largest tank, taking into consideration all tanks, piping and equipment within the area.

ICD’s engineers work with our clients to inspect bunds, ensure bund volumes are compliant with standards and design modifications to ensure the ongoing safety of tanks, bunds and equipment.

Measuring bund volume is easy enough when walls are perfectly straight and new, but when bund walls include multiple height walls, a natural rock face and the volume needs to account for equipment within the bund area, accurately calculating volume becomes far more complicated.

ICD’s client came to us with exactly this problem, needing to measure bund volume of a 100 year old site to ensure regulatory compliance. ICD’s Next-Generation Asset Management (NGAM) team stepped in with an innovative solution to gain a highly accurate result.

The bund area was laser scanned by ICD’s Geospatial Engineering team, with the scan being fed into NGAM’s suite of software to produce a mesh. Rather than using this mesh to create an immersive VR environment, the software was used to calculate the volume of the space. A simulation of liquid levels at the site was then exported to illustrate to the client exactly how the bund walls would perform in the case of a tank failure.

By using this method of calculation, a smaller margin of error was required, meaning that the client could be confident in the compliance of the bund walls without having to undertake additional works to raise the walls.

Now that the model is in place, ICD can easily add 3D CAD designs of proposed equipment to demonstrate the impact on bund volume or calculate the impact of decommissioning tanks within the bund area. As the designs have been built using VR software, ICD’s designers can also export a VR environment, including CAD elements for design reviews, site familiarisation or training as required.

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