Virtual reality (VR) is poised to disruptively change our jobs and lives. Ford Motor Company’s team uses VR manufacturing technology to increase human productivity and safety on the assembly line.
The process begins with the accumulation of big data generated by placing full-body, motion-capture sensors on a manufacturing employee. When he or she executes an assembly line task, the body motion sensors convert the movement into digital data.
This digital representation of human motion is then inserted into algorithms of human ergonomics best practices — which identify actions that come with increased risk for injury or can be re-engineered to increased productivity. For example, a human picking up an object and raising it above eye level creates injury risks. It is also inefficient. Ford uses VR tech to identify, and then engineer, alternative actions by humans and machines.
The results are impressive. Ford claims reducing employee injuries by 70 percent. This was achieved through a 90 percent reduction in overextended movements, difficult hand clearance and hard to install parts. Deployment of VR manufacturing technologies has also reduced days away from work due to injury by 75 percent.
VR now enables Ford’s decision-making
The auto giant is using VR to hold meetings to engage associates across regions and disciplines. For example, Ford’s design team members are located around the world. They now conduct meetings in a VR-generated, 3-D environment. They collaborate using a 3-D car image that is as visually real and detailed as seeing it in person. Even better, the VR technology allows for each car part to be viewed in the same detail as if it were laying on a table in front of the team.
Ford is also using VR to accelerate executive decision-making. When a vehicle’s design is ready for senior officer examination, this can now happen in a virtual reality environment — which speeds up approval time.
This VR communication and decision-making process is slashing Ford’s product design times while also increasing innovation. And the automaker has moved design and decision making from the speed of clay models to the speed of electrons.
>> Read more by Bill Roth, Triple Pundit, January 18, 2017