How VR Is Used In Industrial Applications

When you think about Virtual Reality (VR), the first thing that you think of will probably be video games. While the gaming industry is currently being revolutionized by VR, AR (Augmented Reality), and MR (Mixed Reality), other industries like healthcare, hospitality, and manufacturing are going through a period of transformation.

This isn’t true for all industries across the board as the technology still remains largely underutilized by most. But the potential is obviously there when it comes to manufacturing as companies can now troubleshoot potential issues and interact with their Computer-Aided Designs (CAD) during preproduction.

VR + CAD

Especially when it comes to CAD, after decades of existence, it’s now being taken to a whole new level. Engineers can now use CAD to confirm spacing for suitable access, the spacing between components, and clearance for thermal expansion.

This also helps to ascertain if the design will allow suitable access for various maintenance duties. Now you can wear a VR headset and actually walk through and find out for yourself.

Before CAD, they created to-scale models that were labor and time intensive. Now we're making a natural progression to the next level with VR.

As a result, VR will enable significant accuracy and any errors can be amended cheaply before the build even starts. This, in turn, will also have an impact on the project’s cost and time schedule. MR in CAD is already making waves, so be prepared to hear a lot more about it in the near future.

Oil & Gas Exploration

As the energy sector keeps looking for new and better ways to meet the demands of generating clean, affordable, and reliable energy, 3D visualization with VR has helped the industry make huge strides. Now it’s also possible to collaborate, share information, and make decisions virtually.

VR within the oil and gas exploration space enables the following:

  • Make highly accurate and precise placements of drill sites
  • Reduce costs by streamlining operations
  • Enable consistent training and safety procedures
  • Accelerate production

VR and other MR solutions make it much easier to interpret data through 3D visualization. Further, it enables geoscientists to be on the field and engage in discussions with colleagues at HQ thousands of miles away.

Auto Manufacturing & Distribution

The Ford Motor company has already been using VR technology to develop its designs for over 17 years, but in recent years it has become central to its development. Further, they are now using Oculus Rift headsets.

VR now allows auto manufacturers to design and experience their vehicle designs before actually building it.

At Ford’s Immersion Lab facility, technology pundits conduct virtual inspections of the car by walking around it and colleagues can witness what they experience on a large screen. They can also sit in the car while 30 to 40 employees from design and engineering departments observe the experience.

Ford takes advantage of this technology to examine the entire interior and exterior of a car design, even down to the smallest detail. The VR technology they use is linked directly to its Autodesk CAD system, so it’s again taking CAD up a level (or many a few levels).

This is a great way to observe and tweak the design without spending a ton of money building a physical prototype.

Beyond manufacturing, VR is also revolutionizing the auto industry with the emergence of digital retail stores. As a result, auto dealers don’t need much showroom space anymore and can now maintain a presence in crowded urban spaces (as not much space will be required).

For example, the London Audi City showroom in Green Park is the smallest Audi dealership in the UK. As 50% of their customers ordered their vehicles without the car being physically present at the store or even taking a test drive in the first year, this method has proven to be a huge success. Further, it also suggests that about 5% of all cars will be sold online by 2020.

Water & Waste Management

As the population continues to grow, it places a lot of pressure on water supplies and waste management. As a result, there’s a need for more professionals, but traditional on the job training doesn’t suffice (because it isn’t exactly safe and can take a long time).

It’s a global challenge that’s being supported by Festo Didactic and EON Reality’s Virtual Reality Water and Wastewater simulator. It’s a pretty cool initiative as it features multiple scenarios where users can operate machinery, perform emergency procedures, and interact with the virtual water plant. 

This creates a unique opportunity as now training for dangerous situations is possible virtually to get hands on experience.

Since VR technology is still in its infancy, industrial applications are also limited. However, as development starts to accelerate, the possibilities of industrial VR, AR, and MR seem endless.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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Andrew is our IT storyteller and copywriter. His current undertaking is big data analytics and CSS as well as digital design and branding. He is a contributor to various publications with a focus on new technology and marketing.

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