How Virtual Reality helps stimulate productivity in manufacturing
Virtual Reality has been around for more than 50 years. Introduced in 1960, VR was initially restricted to gaming only. Later, with the advancement in technology, industries acknowledged VR and began to apply it widely in all business activities, from operations to logistics and marketing. Early adopters of VR in different industries have managed to take advantage of this innovation and gain a head-start in their respective industry with improved efficiency.
Virtual Reality made its entry into the manufacturing industry a few years back and now is expanding vigorously. Industries are seeing it as an essential technology to stay ahead of the competition. Manufacturing industries are coming up with ways to use this disruptive technology to accelerate their businesses by improving worker safety, increasing the production pace of new products, reducing the training costs, and increasing the productivity, to name just a few.
Manufacturing is using Virtual Reality in many of its processes. Following are some significant areas where VR is aggressively used:
VR is used as an upgraded version of CAD to design a product. VR allows the designers to create a dynamic 3D model of the product for a real-time experience and to run tests for errors. It enables the designer to walk through the VR design and examine it virtually before initiating the production line. Ship manufacturer companies like Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd (GRSE) is using VR solutions to design large ships virtually.
In manufacturing industries, production is an essential process. It is the only process that is active 24*7. System failure or machine breakdown, even for an hour can cause huge loss to the company. Running the production line without any major break is when the company earns revenue. Provided that, such a critical process needs trained workers for continuous production. Therefore, industries implemented virtual training for their workers for better production. VR allows train the workers to operate production machines by practicing on a simulated equipment in a safer environment.
VR has emerged as an excellent alternative to the traditional production training methods. It enhances the quality of training, efficiency, and productivity of the workers of Lucent Technologies (a manufacturer of the Integrated Circuits (ICs) has launched a VR software to train its staff the precise sequence of steps needed for manufacturing several semiconductors). Workers can go through the simulation when they have time and then use it periodically as a reference tool for solving problems.
VR allows better insight into big warehouses. It helps manage logistics and inventory by tracking and locating the products in a virtual simulated warehouse and then picking them in the physical world. VR helps in finding the required product without having to roam around in the warehouse physically. It benefits the company by reducing the time to locate the products. Shipping & logistics company DHL has introduced this technology to improve their inventory management.
The placement of machines and equipment directly affects the productivity and efficiency. This makes designing the layout of a floor very significant. The layout should decrease the completion time of each process in the production by reducing the movement of raw material from one machine to another. It is designed keeping in mind the sequence of use of machines during production. In the conventional method, the layout needed to be revised many times because of lesser accuracy with a static plan. This gap is bridged with virtual reality as with its dynamic model, one can arrange the virtual machines and equipment in the simulated floor of manufacturing unit to check which arrangement or layout is the most effective.
With all the stated features that VR offers for the manufacturing industry, and interest of companies in this technology, there is no doubt that the technology has embarked a revolutionized change in the manufacturing sector. Virtual Reality, combined with other technologies will redefine the conventional business practices.