Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

The Rise of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in Manufacturing

From consumer to manufacturing, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies are revolutionising the world today. VR is aiding manufacturers to digitally simulate the product or environment, while AR helps manufacturers to project digital products/ information into the real-world environment. Businesses are now planning their production and assembly processes out in full in a virtual world. In turn, this is used to speed up factory and plant commissioning and operation.

We are seeing big movement, especially in the high-tech industry sectors; but it will be interesting to see how the technology will pan out in small/ medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) later along the line. In this blog, we’ll discuss how VR and AR are impacting how we manufacture today.

 

Virtual Vs. Augment Reality

Virtual reality is currently booming in the consumer market and is easily distinguishable by the big VR headsets that come with it. Once you’ve put on the headset you have immersed yourself in a new digital environment. VR headsets incorporate both visual and audio simulation.

Whereas augmented reality is a slightly different concept that involves transferring a digital interface onto the real world. Augmented reality is more commonly associated with the Pokémon Go app or IKEA’s new feature that allows you to view your chosen sofa or wallpaper into your own home; projecting a digital animation in the real word.

It's clear to see that the industry is embracing VR and AR technologies as a way to display the full abilities of their systems. Last year, BEUMER group, a client of our sister agency Napier, used VR and AR technologies at their exhibition stand. The virtual reality allowed visitors to fully immerse themselves into a real-life example. This VR demonstrated the abilities of their system, from start to finish.

The team also set up an augmented reality that demonstrated the capabilities of BEUMER baggage systems. The augmented reality showcased what the future of technology-lead airports would look like. Read the full blog on the stand we had at the air exhibition show here

 

Design Development

Taking it back to the very beginning, VR and AR are supporting the development of products. We are now using VR and AR to optimise and refine designs from the very start; allowing us to review, adjust, and quickly modify design concepts and ideas before they even go into production. The tools provide capabilities to animate and visualise what is being designed, leading to virtual testing and analysis. With better technologies being utilised this early in the production process, we can expect greater products at the end.

Another benefit of using VR and AR in manufacturing is the virtual product simulations for new products in their development phase. Virtual product simulations are used to make it easy for anyone to understand the look and feel of upcoming products. Which means there is less of a need for everyone in the team to hold a technical background and understanding of complex 2D and 3D models and drawings. Which is an essential ability to have when looking for buy-in during the product development phase.

 

Full Virtual World of Production

We can begin to look at how Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are affecting the production as a whole rather than for a single product. VR and AR enable businesses to speed up their operations and plan beyond one product, allowing them to plan out their whole production and assembly process in unison in one virtual world. More practically, AR and VR are aiding organisations to maximise productivity by positioning automation lines, production cells, robots, and people.

Rehearsing and training staff is a big task and guess what… AR and VR can do it for you! Younger generations are increasingly preferring interactive based learning. With the adoption of augmented and virtual reality, these game-like style teaching tools becoming a new trend.