The Engineering industry has always pioneered the introduction of new technology to the workplace. Whether that be a manufacturing process or the machinery itself; the industry has always strived to be adaptable and continuously improving.
Many people ask “why is the Engineering sector so much more advanced than others?” The simple answer to that is because it has to be. Companies cannot afford to be left behind as can be seen by the increased number of businesses going into administration. This is a result of costs being too high or the lack of ability to produce complex parts.
As the rise of the virtual reality world encroaches upon us; it is only a matter of time before market leaders start to explore viable ways to manipulate their impressive tech. This will aid production of not only better products but more cost-efficient ones too. Computer-aided design is very similar to VR in many ways already; you can explore a virtually generated product or environment without needing any physical resource or manufacturing.
Really this is the whole point of CAD; to be able to build, alter and test products endlessly at no cost to the business. VR can only enhance this by increasing the ability to visualize and handle elements of a design as if it was sitting in front of you. Designers have only been able to dream of assembling and manipulating a finished piece from the comfort of their office chairs and VR just may be the answer to their prayers. Here is a list of industries currently exploring the use of VR in their design processes:
Balfour Beatty is one of the largest construction firms in the UK and their rail sector has begun to implement VR into their design processes. Used for planning, prototyping and actual construction; VR has proven useful in visualizing major projects.
The design process in the car production industry is very immersive and can take a considerable amount of time and resource. As the importance of getting every aspect of the car perfect in the design-stage is crucial; VR is a powerful tool that can aid them. This will enable them to produce several versions of a prototype which can be tested and changed as per the results. This removes the need to build a physical prototype and speeds up the development stage. The result is a cost effective streamlined process. JLR are pioneering this at their JLR Virtual Reality Centre in the UK.
The processes that are used to manufacture can also benefit from VR. Siemens; a leading producer in the UK have started to use the tech to develop their production lines by virtually working in them before installation. The major wastes in a manufacturing environment come from unnecessary movements and setup times. If these can be streamlined at the very offset then companies can save a lot of money in the long run.
This is just a small insight into how VR could improve the Engineering world; what will come in the next few years we cannot say but we can promise there are some exciting times ahead!