Transforming Training for the Nuclear Power Industry
Custom NDE Training Simulator
A Global Power Research Institute
In Partnership with Black Ice, LLC
  • Highly sophisticated instrument simulation
  • Complex hierarchical data design with random-access requirements
  • High-performance graphics/charting
  • Electromagnetic real-time object tracking (6 DOF)
  • Custom designed and 3D printed physical objects for simulation
The Problem
In our client’s industry, regular inspection of stainless and carbon steel pipes is required. It is essential for identifying flaws in weld seams that might be precursors to structural failure. This inspection is done using non-destructive evaluation (“NDE”) techniques with specialized ultrasonic transducers and instrumentation, which require hands-on training to fully understand. However, conducting this training required trainees to travel to a small number of certified facilities that have, not only the expensive instruments and related equipment, but also difficult-to-obtain specimens of flawed pipe segments to train with.
The Solution
YoJonesy engineers worked closely with the client’s subject-matter experts to develop a complete simulation system allowing trainees to work with a simulator at their own facility. The simulator captured and used real ultrasonic data from real pipe specimens and “played it back” on a simulated instrumentation panel as the user moved the virtual ultrasonic probe over the surface of the virtual specimen. This project evolved over 3 years from a purely software solution (with probe and specimen on-screen only) to a physical simulator that uses 3D printed pipe specimens and transducers, and employs electromagnetic tracking technology to track both objects in 3D space. This enables the software to calculate where the simulated transducer is on the surface of the simulated pipe (including its rotation) and present the appropriate data in real time. The result is that the user experience is nearly identical to that of a real analysis with real objects.

Strategy
This is a great example of working closely with our clients to achieve and exceed expectations for the ultimate end product. Breaking the project into phases allowed us to tackle one technical challenge at a time.

Early in the project, for example, we had to develop a proprietary data storage system that could accommodate huge volumes of hierarchical data while remaining highly performant in reading randomly from the dataset (driven by the users’ movements of the transducer).

Later, we had to research and integrate a tracking technology that had to accurately track objects with 6 degrees of freedom while also not requiring line-of-sight between any of the components involved. To accomplish this, we developed a feature & performance matrix and mapped out the pros and cons of a variety of candidate technologies.

Key Takeaways
  • Taking time to fully understand complex challenges pays dividends down the road
  • For projects with many unknowns, phasing implementation and limiting the scope per phase can allow for challenges to be addressed efficiently
  • Visualizing data can be valuable not only for end users (as in the 3D renderings we did of the ultrasonic data), but also for project stakeholders (as in the analysis matrix we developed for assessing tracking technologies)
Get in touch
Have ideas or questions? Let’s talk. We’d love to help.
Contact YoJonesy