How Today's Virtual Reality Technology is Improving Business Collaboration across the Manufacturing Sector

August 09, 2022

By: John Tomblin, Senior Solutions Architect
MesaBizz, a division of Sofvue, LLC
Printed with permission of Sofvue, LLC and the author

Manufacturing is a highly complex process, sometimes involving hundreds or even thousands of steps, and one small problem on an assembly line can cause a complete shutdown, and not just from errors by employees, but in the failure of support software, hardware and even issues with buildings. We once had a manufacturing client have a major power interruption due to a fire, they had no way to prevent, and although the assembly lines were able to return to service within a few hours, the outage caused peripheral damage that took days to resolve. From prototype to production, every step has rigid requirements, and when not followed to the letter, mistakes follow, not just with the manufactured product, but also with the added possibilities of injuries and yes, even fatalities.

Thanks to advancements in technology, specifically in virtual reality, manufacturing companies can better train their employees, ensure their safety, and have more quality control over their product manufacturing process.

Although virtual reality (VR) has been around since the 1960’s (yes, 1960’s), it’s only become cost efficient in the past decade, and has now found its way into the manufacturing process.

According to Fortune Business Insights, global virtual reality in the manufacturing sector stood at $924.7 million in 2018 and is projected to reach $1.4 billion by 2026. It is expected to exhibit a CAGR of 39.2% between 2019-2026. Using these stats as a starting point, let’s examine how VR can help improve collaboration and the overall process in the manufacturing process.

1. VR as a Training Tool

VR is a great way to train employees. It's more effective than traditional training because it allows you to simulate situations that might otherwise be impossible or too expensive to replicate in real life.

VR is especially useful in manufacturing because it enables employees to master new skills without the risk of making mistakes, as well as preventing the misuse or damaging expensive equipment or products. Using VR helps ensure that the company's safety standards (QA) are met, as well as reduce the amount of waste produced from faulty manufacturing processes caused by improper training.

2. VR for Remote Collaboration

If you assume that manufacturing is a sector where remote leveraging is not possible, you would be mistaken. For instance, assume that a floor manager is on a business trip in New York, but the manufacturing plant is in Mobile, Alabama. Since most VR solutions operate across the cloud, the floor manager and assembly manager could look at a problem in their processes using VR, remotely, between any two points on the globe. Consequently, VR is a good way for teams to work together remotely (assuming time zones can be synced), making it an ideal solution for companies with geographically dispersed teams. It’s also great at helping new employees learn their jobs from home, and in learning specific processes, enabling them to perform better on the job and reduce training costs when they are onsite.

3. View the Project Before Completion

Virtual reality (VR) is a technology that makes it possible to simulate three-dimensional environments and interact with a virtual element within that same environment. VR can be used to view, modify and interact with a virtual model in real-time. This makes it easier for engineers, designers, and clients to view changes in a project before it's built.

For example, if you're designing a car, you can use VR to show the engineering teams what the finished product will look like and make changes before building it. When your team sees how a finished product might look in 3D, this reduces development time, which in turn improves ROI and go-to-market release schedules.

Virtual reality also helps when communicating with third-party vendors about projects already underway. If any changes need to be made on the manufacturing floor, this can be done remotely using VR equipment. This keeps assembly lines on track with manufacturing quotas while still allowing them full access to all relevant information - which means less time wasted on the floor.

4. Real-time Monitoring

With virtual reality, you can track manufacturing progress of your products in real-time. This is especially useful when you're producing many products and must closely monitor the assembly line.

You can use virtual reality to plan production and reduce costs by predicting how much material you'll need before starting work on the actual project.  Also, real-time analytics and monitoring help you make better decisions by providing relevant, accurate, and timely data. This can be applied to production and inventory management, equipment performance, employee performance, and more. As an example, we once developed a system for the dental industry allowing visual inventory control of precious metals, like gold and silver, by estimating the pennyweight of remaining inventory.  

Importance of Mobile Apps for Virtual Reality

One of the important aspects of VR (apart from headsets) is its use in support of and with mobile apps or web-based applications. Either allows you to access the data and manage what happens when the headset is in use, but to achieve this goal, you’ll need the accompanying software to help generate greater ROI.  

Final Thoughts

VR can create a collaborative environment and 360-degree experiences for your company’s workforce, both on-site and remotely. With VR, you can build a virtual environment where multiple people can work together in the same space, especially with training, safety and for design.  

Mesa Bizz is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sofvue, LLC, which has been developing custom web-based, mobile and MVP solutions for companies since 2004, from Los Angeles to New York City. To date, we have designed, developed and prototyped over $22MM in application and mobile systems, and we’re correctly poised to provide those same services to you and your small business. To learn more, contact us at 623-845-2747.

LINKS:

https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com/industry-reports/virtual-reality-vr-in-manufacturing-industry-101714

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