SSAB Raahe to trial VR to improve workplace safety

SSAB Raahe in Finland is to test the use of virtual reality to improve safety in maintenance work. Working in collaboration with Centria University of Applied Sciences in Ylivieska, SSAB Raahe has created a virtual model of the strip mill walking beam furnace, where slabs are heated for rolling. The model allows maintenance people to visit the maintenance area beforehand to identify potential safety issues.


The virtual model of the strip mill walking beam furnace highlights safe access routes and also points to be aware of such as descaling hatches and burner locations. With virtual glasses, training participants know to pay attention to these and other safety aspects during their virtual tour of the furnace.

Use of virtual modeling to improve safety is the first step being taken at SSAB Raahe towards VR, and it is also an innovative approach to proactive safety work.

- The walking beam furnace is emptied and cooled once a year for maintenance. For some of the maintenance staff, annual maintenance is the first time that they access the site and the timeframe for orientation is often limited. Modeling allows our maintenance people to as if step inside and learn about the safety issues well beforehand. This will have a significant impact on workplace safety, explains Pekka Paganus, Maintenance Director at SSAB Raahe.

The furnace model was completed in 2018 and has already been used during annual maintenance safety training at the strip mill. In the first training session, participants learned about the furnace through a video of the virtual model. Looking ahead, participants will also be able to use virtual glasses to visit the furnace.

- It will be really interesting to see how the technology and new form of training are received. Virtual modeling has enormous potential, which I believe we can use in other challenging projects and more generally when introducing the site, Paganus adds.

SSAB Raahe is studying new objects to model so that the VR technology can be made available in providing orientation also in other challenging maintenance projects. The personnel who tried out the virtual glasses during today’s demo event at SSAB Raahe will also be asked for their suggestions for new virtual models.

HSE | 26.2.2019

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