Innovation has always propelled manufacturing into the next era. Revolutionary disruption and sea changes in manufacturing are preceded invariably by the adoption of new, innovative technologies and processes.
However, the cycle of innovation, adoption and finally, mass change has been historically slow. Most of the innovative tech that led to the industrial revolution was invented 200-300 years ago. The Spinning Jenny, steam engine, electric generator, telegraph, train and photograph were all invented from 1712-1839. And yet, mass production, the truly dramatic, revolutionary change all of this innovation ultimately led to, wasn’t achieved until Ford built the first assembly line in the early1920’s.
After mass production was achieved, in the last 100 years, manufacturing has advanced dramatically as the rate of innovation, adoption and revolutionary change has increased exponentially. The unified assembly line, lean principals, plastics, robotics, the internet and the cloud followed (relatively) soon after.
Now, the tech revolution of the last 15 years has accelerated the cycle of innovation, adoption and change, which now can be measured in months. Modern manufacturers who want to survive, thrive and grow need to identify and adopt new, disruptive technologies quickly. Artificial Reality and Virtual Reality technology and the applications that manufacturers can use to leverage them certainly fit this description.
AR vs. VR - What’s the Difference?
Explaining the difference between Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technology is quickly becoming the equivalent of educating one’s audience on the difference between email and text. However, while most IT professionals understand the differences between the two at this point, it can’t hurt to review AR vs. VR to quickly iterate the differences and provide clarity.
More details to follow, but the short explanation is:
- AR seeks to add to your senses, adding digitally created objects to change, or augment, your perception of where you are.
- VR seeks to override all of your senses- vision, sound, even smell- to make you believe you are somewhere else.
AR is tech that adds digital elements, or assets as they have come to be known, to a view of an actual, real, extant physical space to augment it. Typically the real space is simply what the user is looking at. A device, much like a pair of sunglasses, depicts the user’s view of physical space, overlaying digital assets onto it. A typical example would be a video game character like Pokemon being projected onto a user’s view of actual space. This is often accomplished by using a camera on a device such as a smartphone.
VR depicts a completely immersive, artificial experience that does not include any depiction of an actual, real, extant physical space. VR replaces the extant, physical world with someplace else. Depending on the VR device and platform you are using, you can move within the virtual space, e.g. using virtual hands, even virtual feet. This space is usually limited to a few square yards across, but it's much more immersive than just standing still and looking in different directions.
Extended Reality and Mixed Reality
Extended Reality (XR) is a blanket term that refers to Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) technologies. Mixed Reality (MR) refers to relatively new tech that includes features and facets of both AR and VR.
3D AR & VR in Manufacturing
3D AR and VR tech has exploded first, and loudest within the gaming and entertainment industry. AR and VR platforms and devices are a natural extension of any gaming platform and/or device.
However, makers of physical products within the manufacturing space are realizing the potential of AR and VR tech to reduce costs, as well as improve design and production efficiency as well as add to salespeople and marketers’ toolkits, boosting top line growth.
In manufacturing, AR/VR is gaining traction by disrupting a variety of antiquated systems and processes, ranging from design to production and assembly.
The strategic disruptive potential of XR in the modern manufacturing business landscape lies in the ways it can help businesses achieve uninterrupted production and optimized performance. The most obvious, powerful tactical way to achieve this potential lies in implementing a virtual simulation of each aspect of the manufacturing process.
Here are some examples of XR environments for manufacturing processes and how they can improve them:
- Design- The power of giving design and engineering teams access to interactive extended reality environments that depict and reflect changes to products in the design phase is obvious. The cost of building physical prototypes are drastically reduced or even eliminated. Design and engineers can collaborate virtually, meaning remotely. Changes to designs can be tracked, recorded, compared and ultimately merged seamlessly.
- Assembly Line Training- The safety and efficiency of your assembly line staff is another area where an XR environment that mimics the entire line process and physical space can create day-one improvement. Instruction manuals can be delivered using an AR asset that is cast onto an AR viewing device as an employee completes given tasks. The result is that your line workers work smarter, safer, and faster.
- Improved Maintenance and Productivity- A 3D AR/VR solution can be used to carefully monitor and review real-time data to continually assess and improve the manufacturing process. Issues can be quickly diagnosed and resolved in real-time, without slowing production. Engineers can continue to work while they access a database using a projected AR widget to search for blueprints.
- Boost Sales- In August, Ford, who was an early adopter of Enhanced Reality solutions in their design and production processes, announced that they had built an augmented reality tool that would allow potential buyers to see what a new F-150 truck would look like in their driveways. The jury is out on whether the tool had a meaningful impact on sales, but it certainly illustrates the potential of AR to help the front-end in addition to manufacturing.
The Power of 3D AR, VR and CPQ Working Together
In order to completely realize the potential and power of 3D AR and VR in manufacturing, your AR/VR solution must work seamlessly with your CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote), 3D Visual Planning and 3D CAD Design tool kits.
This combined solution does two things for operations like yours: increases sales and reduces costs.
Below are the core capabilities that make this combined solution so powerful:
- Use your CPQ to capture all of the information on each iteration of your configured products, customized to your customers' specific and individualized needs.
- Provide dynamic 3D representations of these configured products within all of the AR/VR environments that you create.
- Increase sales with display of 3D images of configured items within a browser-based Visual Planning tool
- Streamline manufacturing by dynamically generating configuration-specific 3D CAD models, information, and drawings that are delivered directly to the shop floor.
Verenia's advanced 3D solution, featuring Verenia 3D AR/VR, Verenia CPQ Product Configurator, Verenia 3D Visual Planning and Verenia 3D CAD, will save your organization thousands or even millions by eliminating duplicate, repetitive engineering costs. The combined solution will also add dynamic 3D capabilities to your salespeople’s toolkits, increasing sales.
To find out more about how Verenia 3D and its 3D AR/VR capabilities can help your business cut costs and increase sales, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.