Virtual Reality for Manufacturing: A Game-Changer for Productivity
Discover the benefits of using virtual reality for the manufacturing industry, including increased efficiency, reduced costs, and improved safety.
Virtual reality technology is already changing how manufacturers work, but managing XR technology at scale remains challenging.
When you think of virtual reality, you probably don’t immediately imagine manufacturing. We sometimes see VR marketed as the next step in gaming and entertainment. The potential for virtual reality for manufacturing is massive. Several large manufacturers have already used this incredible tool, despite its initial challenges.
Even the most advanced technology has challenges. Especially at a large-scale. Since VR and AR technology is still growing, it’s not perfect. Here are some common obstacles:
Deploying large-scale XR solutions requires a large investment.
Some traditional manufacturers have trouble adapting new VR technology.
Virtual reality technology has specific technical limitations.
Managing XR Headsets
Using a large-scale XR solution requires a device management platform.
Creating and managing custom XR content requires custom programming and tools.
Benefits of Virtual Reality for Manufacturing
So, what does VR mean for manufacturing?
Here are some benefits:
- Lower long-term costs
- Fewer safety incidents
- Better products and services
- Improved inventory tracking
- Greater efficiency
- Well-trained personnel
- More industry innovation
According to recent statistics, 75% of industrial companies are now using large-scale VR or AR technology. This includes industries like automotive and aircraft manufacturing and transportation.
The DHL Example
For example, logistics company DHL successfully used VR/AR smart glasses for order picking. The company equipped its staff with Google Glass and Vuzix M100 technology. They wanted to learn more about the technology’s limitations and uses.
The warehouse personnel successfully picked 20,000 items and fulfilled around 9,000 orders using the technology. Production levels were 25% higher than without the smart glasses.
The glasses allowed staff to locate and verify items more quickly and accurately.
As cases like this one show, AR and VR can improve time and accuracy in a manufacturing setting and make operations more efficient.
Lower Long-Term Costs
Imagine a technology that can reduce errors and costs for a business quickly and easily. A warehouse with more efficient personnel using VR technology can become twice as productive. More accurate picking and material handling means more accurate documents and happier customers.
What’s amazing is that despite all of its advantages, there’s still some resistance to large-scale adaptation. That’s because of the lack of VR management solutions.
How does a company manage several hundred devices at once? How do they ensure consistency and updates across each headset? How do they transfer a training process directly into an XR or VR system?„We started by thinking about XR as we’re just gonna take the exact work process that we use daily, and cut, copy, and paste the VR training into the traditional work process. What we learned in doing that is that you don’t get all the value if you don’t change what the entire work process looks like.”
Use Cases of VR in Manufacturing
Now that we understand why VR is beneficial, let’s look at some use cases. What is virtual reality actually used for in a manufacturing environment? How are companies like Ford, GE, and DHL using VR and AR in a warehouse or industrial setting?
Training and Personnel Development
One of the primary uses of virtual reality for manufacturing is training. Virtual environments make training less expensive and risky.
For example, if you’re training a new employee on something like a vehicle assembly line, the training process takes weeks or months. This means new employees spend less time producing and more time learning.
Cue VR technology. You choose an enterprise VR system to improve the training process. The program helps the trainees learn how to use that potentially hazardous machine with no actual risks. They can see the hazards of the machinery without ever touching it. Trainees will also learn more quickly.
Ford Motor Company is a prime example of this concept. The company successfully used VR technology in its training program. Employees learned the complex and sometimes hazardous work requirements of the job without direct exposure.
One of the more dramatic examples that we have of the impact that VR can have in a business is manufacturing training, or reduction of time to proficiency by 50 to 70%. When you’re taking six months to train somebody and then you can turn that into several weeks, that’s a tangible operational difference for businesses.”
What’s the Future Look Like for VR in Manufacturing?
Overall, the future of VR for manufacturing looks promising. But what can we expect from that future?
To start, we’ll see more companies looking for help with VR adoption and management of their VR devices and services. At an enterprise level, successful management of VR systems is very technical and sometimes costly. This creates a need for companies that specialise in VR scaling and management.
We’ll also see more accurate and detailed 3D programs for VR and AR systems. Imagine a technology that allows a company to simulate everything from research and development to testing and training with incredible accuracy. Profit margins will increase, manufacturing accidents will fall to record levels, and companies can become more competitive than ever.