Virtual Reality in Manufacturing

One of the disappointments of the world we live in is the uncertainty of outcomes. Virtual Reality has created a fresh slant to predictive analytics. The knack to predict an outcome before it happens is tremendously valuable, and VR technology is making this much easier.

Finding a mistake in a product design could take weeks using conventional methods. But, if there can be a simulated interaction with the product via a headset such as the Oculus Rift, the problem, if there is one, can be recognized very quickly.

Predictive analytics help companies to focus on what customers actually purchase, based on point-of-sale systems, the Internet and feedback from social media. Manufacturers can use today’s information to create immediate demand forecasts, allowing for immediate adjustment of production and distribution to meet changing demands. VR analytics delivers insights into the consumer’s awareness. There are new opportunities of collecting behavioral user data during VR experiences and utilizing this data together with traditional data warehouse information.

Computer and game graphics are driving the barriers of photorealism. Researchers and engineers are pulling graphics out of your television screen or computer display and integrating them into real-world environments. Augmented Reality (AR) blurs the line between what’s real and what’s computer-generated by enhancing what we see, hear, feel and smell. AR is closer to the real world than VR.

AR involves a computer overlay on a person’s existing view. (Course: Manufacturing Tomorrow)

AR displays will look like a normal pair of glasses with informative graphics appearing in your field of view, and the audio will match whatever you see. And, it is being used in manufacturing today. Engineers at Lockheed Martin, wearing AR glasses that use cameras, depth sensors, and motion sensors to overlay images onto the actual working setting, can see renderings of cables, bolts, parts, part numbers, and instructions on how to assemble a certain component. This new process increases the engineers’ precision to 96%, while working 30% faster on the F-35 fighter jet.

Augmented Reality technologies have been introduced into manufacturing planning, leading to a decrease in planning times, and an improvement of the quality of the planning results. An existing physical production environment can be superimposed with virtual planning objects. Planning can be validated without modeling the surrounding environment of the production site.

Manufacturers have used augmented reality to organize and optimise the location and flow of production lines; position automation lines, robots, production cells and people to make best use of productivity; operate and handle virtual tools and equipment; practice and train employees for the actual job; and plan around support pillars, lighting, heating and air-conditioning ducts. The results of USEMIR significantly improved a user’s skills in equivalent real-life scenarios.

The use of Ubiquitous Sensory Mixed Reality environments allows users to practice situations that might be dangerous in a real environment. This approach has been effectively used for training in a variety of specialties, including health and safety, medical, fire, and industrial training.

>> Read more by Len Calderone, Manufacturing Tomorrow, March 30, 2017