Keuda Logistics – pallet loading as a VR Exercise

Mikael Bowellan | 2024/04/10

Softability XR Studio developed a VR exercise on the VR Builder platform in collaboration with Keuda to support logistics education at Keuda.

Softability XR Studio developed a VR exercise on the VR Builder platform in collaboration with Keuda to support logistics education at Keuda.

Keuda’s needs were summarized in these requirements and goals:

  • Clearly teach and demonstrate the impact of load placement on the axle masses of a two-axle truck in a realistic VR environment.
  • Provide students with various starting scenarios and clear, real-time updating axle weight information.
  • Allow students to redo exercise sections or proceed to the next section. After completing the final exercise section, students can start the task package from the beginning.

The purpose of the exercise is to illustrate to students how load placement affects axle masses, clearly using numbers and data.

Since much of the truck’s load capacity rests on the rear axle, a load placed too far back lightens the front axle, affecting maneuverability. Conversely, a load placed too far forward exceeds the maximum allowed front axle mass. According to road traffic regulations, the load must be placed so that at least 20% of the mass is on the steering axle and 25% on the driving axle.

“The impact of load placement on axle masses is a fairly essential part of a driver’s skillset. For some students, I’ve observed the issue of ‘slowness’ in practice; when the practice load is ready and axle loading is found to be incorrect, the original thought can easily be forgotten during the approximately one-hour period it takes to unload and reload. In the VR exercise, the same goods are loaded in different order in about two minutes. With this VR exercise, the focus is specifically on the impact of placement on weight distribution.”

Tuomas Hintikka, Logistics Teacher, Keuda

We began creating the exercise by constructing a realistic logistics center. We added a properly sized two-axle truck and various pallet loads of different weights for the creation of exercise sections. Empty pallet stacks are also included in the loads and are used to shift the center of gravity in the case of heavier loads. Typically, the loads should be supported against the front wall, so pallet stacks can be used to fill the gap between the front wall and the load if necessary.

In this setup and chosen truck type, there are twelve pallet positions. Securing the load after loading the pallets was left out of this project, but it is planned to be implemented as a separate section later on.

VR Builder x Unity

VR Builder is installed as an extension on top of Unity. The installation package includes a wizard that sets up the environment and other configurations for XR usage almost ready. The wizard even asks for the VR target devices that will be used to run the application (at Keuda, Meta Quest 2/3).

VR Builder platform is also very affordable to acquire, even with additional features, and there are no monthly or other licensing fees. “Very affordable” means mostly free in this context, with a few extension parts priced around €20 each if needed. In Keuda’s exercise, only two of these extensions, “States and Data” and “Track and Measure,” were used, costing a total of €40. Unity itself is also available for free, and that version is sufficient for using VR Builder.

One of the goals of the project was cost-effectiveness in all aspects, so we also took advantage of Unity’s Asset Store with its extensive selection of 3D models. From there, we selected models that were stylistically, functionally, and functionally suitable to create a realistic training environment. Only the loading dock and user interface graphics had to be made from scratch; the total cost of using modular 3D model libraries and other 3D models in the project was less than €200.

No-code

VR Builder uses visual scripting to build logic instead of traditional “real” coding. It is a node-based programming environment, but without the need for traditional coding. Each node contains various functions and conditions added by the creator, and when they are fulfilled, the process moves to the next node. Nodes can also be used to create loops. At its simplest, a node might only play a single sound sample, but one node can also contain dozens of functions.

The exercise can also be divided into several chapters at a high level, each containing a specific set of nodes. Individual nodes or multiple nodes at once can be easily copied and pasted onto the workspace or into another chapter. An entire chapter can also be copied as a basis for a new section.

“Great graphics and a nice location!”
“The impact of pallet placement became clear, at least faster than in the warehouse.”
“This doesn’t completely replace the warehouse, but it worked well in this regard.”


Comments from logistics students at Keuda

No-code, why? No-code eliminates the need for a coder entirely – this is, of course, a cost-reducing factor in production, but it also allows, for example, teachers to modify or create additional exercises entirely independently. A coder isn’t even needed to create a new application – it is build with the press of a button and can be installed on glasses with a simple text script over a USB connection.

Node-based logic building. Transition to the next node occurs when the required actions of the node have been completed, and other transition conditions are met.

Pallet Loading VR Exercise

The exercise focuses on pallet loading, and it was simplified as much as possible. Driving pallets into the cargo space with a forklift or pallet jack would have been possible but unnecessary and time-consuming in this context. We used AI-generated speech in addition of the text guidance, this allowed us to include a virtual teacher to guide the exercise and provide feedback to the student.

The main objective was to demonstrate mathematics and physics through practical means to the students, so pallets are moved into the cargo space simply by touching a weight label. The student sees the highlighted pallet position in turn and selects a suitable pallet for it – the pallet can be chosen entirely randomly, with only the target pallet position being fixed. This allows us to quickly conduct exercises with a larger number of students or to easily and quickly experiment with how different pallet placements affect axle weights.

The VR Builder platform demonstrated both its capabilities and speed in this project. Creating logic in a node-based manner is not really slower than the famous “real coding,” and if you consider editing iterations, it’s even faster.

And as mentioned, all of this can be done entirely by the teacher with a little practice – or faster, after a good example use case made by Softability like in Keuda’s case. Additional hands-on workshop training day will of course help to further gain additional knowledge and all those important “best practises” tips how to use VR Builder platform effectively.

“Many times, long ‘learning tool’ development time can be an issue in these projects. From idea to finished product, it may take over a year, when considering requests for proposals, investment proposals, and other decision-making processes. In my opinion, this project was a good example of how quickly things can also progress when everything is running smoothly. From idea to finished product, we managed to complete it in about eight weeks this time, including winter vacation weeks and Easter time.”

Tuomas Hintikka, Logistics Teacher, Keuda.

Below is a video showing how the VR exercise feels like from the perspective of the student.

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