Virtual reality eliminates risk and improves safety responses


The future of work is the driver behind new state-of-the-art technology being deployed in the gas sector.

The operator of one of New Zealand’s largest gas networks is using state-of-the-art technology to train its team for high-risk

Taranaki-based FirstGas, operator of more than 2,500 km of high-pressure gas transmission pipelines and 4,800kms of gas distribution networks in the North Island, turned to Waikato virtual reality (VR) specialist Company-X to design and develop a custom-built VR training

The Company-X VR team developed a solution for FirstGas through ideation following an agile software development process.

Key members of the Company-X team included augmented and virtual reality specialist Lance Bauerfeind, project manager Dilan Prasad, and interactive artist Wonkee Kim. The Company-X team worked closely with FirstGas Information Services project manager Reuben Uncles.

The minimum viable product took 12 weeks to design and develop, with Uncles receiving weekly updates from Prasad and his team.

“It’s amazing what they could get achieved in that short time,” Uncles said.

“There was a real sense of keenness to deliver something that did what we expected and ticked all the boxes.”

Company-X used cutting-edge VR technology to replicate, in exacting detail, the high-risk procedure for emergency venting of a ruptured pipeline before maintenance could be carried out.
“Virtualising the emergency venting process removed all risk to the FirstGas team,” Uncles said.

Company-X built a true-to-life VR model of the Te Kowhai DP Main Line Valve (MLV) in the Waikato. The team used state-of-the-art point cloud scanning technology and as-built drawings to collect accurate location and dimension data of all pipework and components.

“The FirstGas project team was delighted to work with Company-X and found their approach to the project to be well thought out, which in turn made it easy for us to know what was required from us, and what their project team was responsible for,” Uncles said.

“Throughout the project we were impressed with the communication, documentation and continuous progress updates provided by their project team. The project management was well delivered with detailed updates leaving us confident the project was always controlled and would be delivered on schedule.”

A demonstration day in Bell Block, Taranaki was popular with the FirstGas team.

“The reactions of people who tried the VR headset in the FirstGas VR Training scenario conveyed a sense of amazement, as they explored the environment and interacted with the valves, control panel button and the tools,” Uncles said.

“There were no reports of dizziness, motion sickness, nausea or any other ill-feeling as can be attributed to older VR technology. The consensus was that it was a very realistic life-like world with ‘good effects’, that makes for a viable training environment.

Company-X developed many reusable artefacts in the process which FirstGas can use in future VR training

FirstGas field technicians suggested further simulations, such as scenarios for unexpected events on the gas network, training on new slam-shut valves, servicing and overhauling regulators.

Future projects and scenarios are limited only by the imagination and ideas of the people within FirstGas,” Uncles said. “They provide an engaging, fun and cost-effective way of exposing our people to what would normally be a high-risk task.”

“The delivered products possessed the ‘wow’ factor we wanted to show that training for high-risk activities can now be virtualised in a fun and engaging manner, removing almost all risk to our people and assets in a cost-effective manner.”


Company-X ranks among Deloitte Technology Fast 500 Asia Pacific

Company-X has ranked Number 496 on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500™ Asia Pacific 2019, a ranking of the 500 fastest growing technology companies in Asia Pacific. Rankings are based on percentage revenue growth over three years. Company-X grew 98 percent during this period.

Company-X co-founders and directors David Hallett and Jeremy Hughes credit hiring the best and the brightest for their team delivering service excellence for the company’s 98 percent revenue growth over the past three years.

Hallett said, “Company-X offers a multi-award-winning Silicon Valley savvy team with a Kiwi can-do attitude to multi-national and domestic clients.”

Hughes added: “Our commitment to service excellence flows from our number one value which is delivering what we said we would.”

Asia Pacific Deloitte Private Leader Mike Horne said: “Being ranked on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500™ is an impressive achievement, especially because today’s technology companies are thriving in extraordinarily competitive and changeable environments.

“Success in the technology sector requires a special mix of innovation, creativity and leadership.

“With its 98 percent growth rate over three years, Company-X has shown that they have what it takes to create and sustain success.”

Overall, companies that ranked on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500™ Asia Pacific 2019 program had an average growth rate of 717 percent – the highest average growth rate since 2008.

Deloitte Technology Fast 500™ Asia Pacific selection and qualifications The Technology Fast 500™ list is compiled from the Deloitte Asia Pacific Technology Fast 50 programs, nominations submitted directly to the Technology Fast 500™, and public company database research.

To qualify for the Technology Fast 500™, entrants must have had base-year operating revenues of at least US$ 50,000. Entrants must also be public or private companies headquartered in Asia Pacific and must be a “technology company,” defined as a company that develops or owns proprietary technology that contributes to a significant portion of the company’s operating revenues; or manufactures a technology-related product; or devotes a high percentage of effort to the research and development of technology.
Using other companies’ technology in a unique way does not qualify.


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