Virtual Reality – A new digital solution for the visualisation of offshore wind projects

Ramboll is using Virtual Reality (VR) as a tool for design review/risk assessments and the visualisation of projects in Ramboll’s Wind division – an initiative that is part of Ramboll’s Virtual Solutions Lab. 

Visualisation of offshore wind turbine with foundation


Ronnie Refstrup Pedersen

Ronnie Refstrup Pedersen

Senior Chief Consultant
T: +45 5161 4574
Ronnie Refstrup Pedersen

Ronnie Refstrup Pedersen

Senior Chief Consultant
T: +45 5161 4574

As our projects and designs in offshore wind become increasingly more complex, new solutions are required to visualise our projects, both in the design phase and in-service. In this context, VR presents itself as a powerful technology that delivers more realistic and interactive visualisations of our engineering designs and models, while simultaneously enhancing the communication process with project stakeholders. 

How does it work?

As a starting point, the offshore wind structures are designed by our engineers using our in-house Structural Analysis Program ROSAP as well as supplementary Finite Element tools. Based on these designs, CAD software produces 3D models, which are then directly imported to our VR visualisation software. The VR models created from CAD are close to realism, and are made available within the same day in a simple and fast process. The models not only capture Ramboll’s deliverables, but also integrate the deliverables of external stakeholders across the whole value chain for an effective and holistic management of interfaces.

The models are linked to two other Ramboll in-house programs, namely RAMVIEW365, a platform to share visualisations, 3D models and designs with internal and external stakeholders, and RAMRISK, our risk assessment software where visualisations and VR models are used as documentation.

Lastly, using VR glasses and headsets our engineers, clients and other stakeholders can experience and interact with the live 3D models.

VR enables the visualisation of models in a real size scale

When dealing with large infrastructure, such as wind turbines and foundations, it might be challenging to have a real and accurate perception of the size of the designs from 2D drawings or simple “on screen” 3D models. With VR, our engineers can easily have an immersive, full-scale, 360-degree view of their offshore models and infrastructures. 

The technology does not limit itself to new assets but also applies to existing infrastructure for retrofits, asset management and documentation. Ramboll has extensive experience with 3D scanning of offshore platforms, turning in-service physical assets into 3D models - read more about optimised processes with 3D laser scanning here. Thereby retrofits and maintenance activities can be planned and tested before going offshore. As such, the visualisation of projects and designs in VR, i.e. 3D full-scale, offers a more accurate perception of the applicability of the digital prototypes in the real-life setting.

Interactive and cost-effective 

An important feature of this innovative digital tool is the ability to render fine-grained details of an engineering design, meaning that complex models are visualised with high-end graphics. Adding the interactivity aspect of the technology, designs cannot only be studied in greater detail, but also deconstructed, manipulated and rebuilt into the design. Thus, VR provides a deeper perception of how the structure works and improves the design process before the manufacturing and implementation phases. Furthermore, the VR tools offer great opportunity for personnel not familiar with reading 2D drawings or working with 3D models first hand access to a close to real environment.

In risk assessment this can be particularly useful since it enables our engineers and stakeholders to determine at an early stage whether design features are feasible or not, identifying potential issues and making the necessary adjustments before a physical asset is created.

The above aspects are beneficial to streamline the project development process and ensure that no unnecessary resources and time are wasted. With VR models the visualisation is more transparent, the design process moves faster, and the inspection of models and project planning is made easier.

Smoother videos and animations

Our VR visualisation software enables the loading of heavy models and their smooth visualisation and when compared to other visualisation platforms, the visualisation software offers a faster refresh rate, which consequently renders extremely realistic representations and video animations.

Since our brains are meant to see in pictures, insights can be lost without visualisation. As such, through visualisation we add more value to our clients. Presentations of projects are made unique not only by the extremely realistic graphics, lighting and sounds, but by the interactivity and immersion that only a VR experience offers. Through VR, it is possible to provide our clients a digital walk-through to offshore wind platforms where they can visualise and interact with extremely realistic and real-scale models in a safe, fast and easy way.

Universal Foundation and Ramboll have established a close collaboration on an on-going joint development project concerning the design and certification of the Mono Bucket concept shown in the video below, including load iterations with MHI Vestas Offshore Wind. We assisted our client with the Design Basis, Design Briefs, Collision Analysis, Load Calculations and Structural Verifications of the structures. The designs we created as part of the scope of the project were subsequently turned into real-scale 3D models as featured in this video animation.

“We have found great value in applying our complementary competencies on this project, where VR clearly provides value by being able to visualise and address design issues at all stages of the design”, states Kristian Ascanius Jacobsen, Head of Business Development at Universal Foundation.

The unique features of VR also open possibilities in other service areas, for example in offshore training and safety induction. The realistic scenarios that can be created in the world of VR provide a place for professionals where these can familiarise themselves with complex equipment and structures, practice health and safety operations in various conditions in an engaging and safe way.

Apart from VR, Ramboll’s digital solutions include a wide range of other technologies, including Augmented Reality (AR). Through AR technology, 2D drawings can easily be scanned and turned into 3D models that can be viewed on a mobile phone or tablet in different scales and from different angles. In addition, by use of AR digital prototypes can be placed in the environment for which they are intended to plan and review implementation.

Related service: Wind energy


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