Virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) are mature technologies that are quickly moving from ‘proof of concept’ to being widely adopted across the industry.
However, while there’s been strong take up by large manufacturers, particularly those in aerospace and automotive, adoption by smaller UK companies has been less widespread.
It can often be difficult for small companies to identify where such technology can add value to their operations and identify a potential return on investment.
Through my role, I help the region’s SME manufacturers to understand how VR/AR and other digital technology can help overcome business challenges, improve onboarding, staff training and also corporate decision making.
For those unfamiliar with VR, it is an immersive experience delivered via headset and is increasingly being used to accelerate employee training; setting completion tasks against virtual scenarios i.e. by re-creating technically involved or hazardous scenarios in which an apprentice or similar can undergo training ‘risk free’. It is also increasingly being used for remote design review and collaboration, meaning users in different parts of the world can enter the same ‘virtual’ space, in real time, to discuss CAD design iteration, factory layout and a whole host of other actions.
AR essentially uses devices to ‘overlay’ digital content into the real world, this can be CAD, simulation/ animation, video, audio, and documentation (such as PDFs). This type of ‘digital twinning’ (utilising Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices) is giving rise to ever more effective application scenarios; such as maintenance monitoring, remote inspection, asset tracking, field servicing and predictive maintenance (using live sensor data), guided training/ instruction, and job completion tracking.
As the cost of both VR and AR technology continues to fall, they are beginning to bring clear value to company’s core operations by making them more sustainable and scalable. There are many systems to choose from and SAM can support in identifying the right solutions. A company can also visit our Digital Factory at the University of Sunderland and directly experience using the technology first-hand.
Facilities include different VR headsets, Microsoft HoloLens 1 & 2, large area scanning to produce point cloud and thermal analysis (i.e., of factory environments), tablet devices, 3D scanning for part analysis and commercially available software authoring environments.
Alongside our specialist support, the facilities also provide a no-risk opportunity to explore the potential that a range of digital technologies might bring to your operation and establish a roadmap for timely and cost-effective adoption. Visit us today to find out how your business could benefit.