Aerospace XR facility launches in Ayr

Posted on 2 June, 2022 by Advance 

A state-of-the-art Extended Reality (XR) facility, regarded as the leading XR showcase in the UK, has been officially opened by Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise Ivan McKee MSP in Ayr.

Image courtesy South Ayrshire Council

A state-of-the-art Extended Reality (XR) facility, regarded as the leading XR showcase  in the UK, has been officially opened by Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise Ivan McKee MSP in Ayr.

The Aerospace Digital Visualisation Suite (ADVS) gives Small or Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), free access to the very latest XR and digital visualisation technologies to help them enter or expand their presence in the aerospace and space sector. The use of the ADVS technology is limitless, from offering companies the chance to walk through their new factory before it exists, to building a new product virtually, or providing employees with safe training in a sandpit environment.

Delivered by South Ayrshire Council, the ADVS facility is based within the Aeronautical Engineering Training Centre at Ayrshire College. The project has been established following a successful bid to the Advancing Manufacturing Challenge Fund (AMCF), led by South Ayrshire Council and its partners, which saw a total of almost £1.1 million being allocated from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and match
funding by the Council.

The facility enables engineering SMEs to innovate, develop skills and improve productivity by bringing XR content creation inhouse. In conjunction with academic partners, including the University of Strathclyde and National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS), the ADVS team works closely with companies to identify XR solutions to everyday challenges, supporting them in de-risking process improvement and design processes, achieving time and costs savings on live testing, development and training in 1:1 scale.

With an ever-evolving suite of tools, the ADVS offers an unrivalled suite of technology and equipment, not collectively available anywhere else in the country, covering the three main XR technologies of Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR), from the widest variety of suppliers at every cost point. Equipment includes small- and large-scale Lidar scanning and photogrammetry for reality capture linked with manual content creation, accelerating timescales and driving down costs for the product pipeline. The facility also houses Scotland’s first volumetric studio offering the ability to record 3D video directly in the VR environment, answering the age-old question of how to capture and store the experienced operator knowledge.

Services at the ADVS include:

Visualisation - through VR (Virtual Reality) simulations and AR (AugmentedReality) programmes, companies can quickly visualise any aspect of their business, allowing them to identify and address any problems/challenges quickly and cost effectively.

Digital Asset Creation - by scanning real-world objects, converting existing CAD data or 3D modelling from designs, assets needed to simulate existing or proposed objects can be created, ranging in scale from handheld items to full size buildings.

Digital Factory Transformation and Design - by planning the transformation process using VR technology, restructuring the layout of factories to achieve the best solution can be carried out before the first physical piece of equipment is moved and without any disruption to operations.

Virtual Twin - by combining the ADVS XR and reverse engineering toolkit with process simulation tools, synthetic data can be created to build accurate simulation models of new and existing processes, which can uniquely be viewed in 1:1 scale.

Digital Twin - by integrating technologies, real world data can be brought back into the virtual environment, offering new ways of visualising big data.

Human in the loop - using the latest XR technologies, industry 5.0 concepts can be delivered to bring back the human into the loop.

Since being operational, the ADVS has worked with almost 50 companies, which for some, has resulted in securing lucrative contracts. One example is Chevron Aircraft Maintenance based at Prestwick. The company had the opportunity for a new contract, provided they could fit an Airbus A330 and a Boeing 737-8 side by side in their hangar.

The ADVS team carried out laser scanning and modelling of the hangar to create a digital asset of the facility, showing it was indeed possible to house both aircraft at the same time, allowing Chevron to win the work. Using VR, Chevron could also try different parking configurations for the aircraft in a matter of minutes, rather than manoeuvring real aircraft, which would have lost the company a whole day of production.

In officially opening the ADVS Ivan McKee MSP commented: “The Aerospace Digital Visualisation Suite (ADVS) - supported through the Scottish Government’s Advancing Manufacturing Challenge Fund - is an excellent addition toour well-established Prestwick aerospace cluster, demonstrating time and again the pioneering innovation taking place in Scotland.

“Through the ADVS, South Ayrshire will play a key role in supporting high growth Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs), along with development of the sector, which are critical to achieving our National Strategy for Economic Transformation ambitions. These include stimulating entrepreneurship, opening new markets, increasing productivity, developing the skills we need for the decade ahead; and ensuring fairer
and more equal economic opportunities.”

Councillor Martin Dowey, Leader of South Ayrshire Councillor said: “We are delighted to celebrate the official opening of the Aerospace Digital Visualisation Suite which is arguably the leading facility of its kind in Europe. South Ayrshire is home to Scotland’s largest aerospace hub at Prestwick, which is receiving a great deal of interest due to the £80 million investment from the Ayrshire Growth Deal to establish new facilities and infrastructure. The ADVS makes Prestwick an even more attractive location to new investors who will have free access to its cutting edge technology to improve their productivity and competitiveness.”

Gavin Murray, Assistant Principal – Curriculum, Ayrshire College, said: “Ayrshire College is delighted to host the ADVS at our Aeronautical Engineering Training Centre in Ayr. We welcome the opportunity to support this unique initiative and its fascinating, state of the art technology. Ayrshire College has a strong heritage in providing training to our industry partners around Prestwick Aerospace and beyond and the ADVS project demonstrates how working together we can further enhance the local offering that we collectively bring to the aerospace and space sector.”

The ADVS project will run until 2023, with its legacy being secured through the new Aerospace and Space Technology Applications Centre being developed at Prestwick, as part of the Ayrshire Growth Deal. It also supports the Skypath Aero Training Centre at Prestwick, offering 3D-visualisation in their course delivery, with plans already underway to establish a second ADVS facility at the Skypath site.

For more information on the ADVS, including details on how to get involved with the