Metaverse ready? How Virtual Reality can benefit factory planning

It doesn't matter whether it's furniture production, liquid and air filter systems or the food industry - how will we layout factories in the future?

There is a lot of talks today about Industry 4.0 and how the digitalisation of processes will revolutionise the world. However, tools such as Virtual Reality (VR) are often overlooked even though they contribute significantly to intelligent value creation. How do they do it? It's simple, the digitisation of industry is not just about connecting production and design or the automatization of all processes. It also has a lot to do with intelligent planning. Put it this way, VR allows your company to optimise almost any process, from evaluating large-scale production plants to the location and installation of new machinery.

For that reason, the iVP team has prepared this article where we explore the aspects that make VR an invaluable ally to take your planning process to the next level. Virtual reality is a technology that has infinite applications, from stakeholder presentations to sales and marketing.

However, for the purposes of this article, we will focus on its use in the field of intelligent factory planning and process optimisation.

Benefits of Virtual Reality in Industry 4.0

Plant layout evaluation. Few challenges are as complex as the planning of a production facility. It's not just about the physical space, but the sheer number of considerations that come into play, safety, ergonomics, process efficiency, storage, and more. Thanks to virtual reality technology, your team of multi-disciplinary specialists can evaluate different scenarios in a safe environment that perfectly reproduces each stage of the process. Moreover, you can run simulations that allow your team to find faults or simply optimise processes. All this at a fraction of the cost of having to deal with these issues during the execution stage of the project.

Smart planning integration. Virtual reality should not be seen as an isolated planning tool. On the contrary, it should be seen as a fundamental part of the Smart Planning of Industry 4.0. VR takes your CAD plant blueprints to the next level, perfectly simulating your ideas and allowing you to walk around the virtual plant to give you a unique 3D perspective. Changes and improvements can then be added in real-time to your original CAD drawings, speeding up the process significantly.

Better machinery insights. Virtual reality technology also has enormous applications in designing and improving machinery and industrial equipment of all kinds. Through real-time VR simulations, your engineering team can analyse both the best location and the best way to assemble and set up your machinery without affecting the rest of the plant processes.

Enhanced workflow prototyping. The integration of virtual reality with your other planning tools allows you to do much more than design the perfect production plant. They give you the competitive advantage of optimising workflow and logistics, before, during, and after commissioning. From the ideal location of workstations to the distribution of materials, there is no limit to the level of detail you can plan.

Next-gen personnel training. The same virtual reality tools that help you design the factory and machinery are invaluable for staff training. The immersive experience provided by VR allows technical staff to use the machines as if they were on site. Furthermore, since these simulations are done in the virtual factory environment, they could be of benefit in detecting various problems. From ergonomics to logistics, feedback from operators can be invaluable in avoiding costly mistakes that may have gone unnoticed.

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