Process improvement and cost reduction are amongst the most important topics for industrials. As competition is global, processes need to be as efficient and cost effective as possible, thus leading to a constant quest for improvement. For this reason, industrials have been exploring innovative solutions and naturally considered virtual reality as an answer to those challenges. A fair share of them even did so as soon as the nineties! Yet, it is legitimate to wonder why they would chose such a technology?
The answer is quite simple: the technology’s results in process improvement and cost reduction are worth it and lead to an important return on investment. We dealt about this topic in detail in a previous article available here.
Let’s illustrate this statement with a very concrete and recent example: Safran Nacelles, industrial manufacturer of the housing that holds aircraft engines, fuel or equipment.
As stated by their team:
“The Safran Nacelles plant in Le Havre is the Group’s pioneer in virtual reality. At the start of the Airbus A330neo program the expected quick ramp-up led to the use of virtual reality, enabling the company to develop new nacelles in just 42 months (versus 60 for the A320neo nacelles). Likewise, computer modeling of the new production line in conjunction with its future operators led to a 10% reduction in the tooling budget by optimizing its organization before construction. Safran Nacelles is now in the process of deploying this approach in every plant, in France and worldwide."
As a result of the implementation of the technology in their process, Safran Nacelles has calculated a 300k € return on investment, in less than a year, for that single virtual reality room!
An impressive result, that is actually very common with such implementations: Immersion, European leader in virtual reality, augmented reality and collaborative solutions for industrial and research purposes, has calculated through their broad industrial customer base that the average virtual reality investment is profitable within 1 and a half year, if not less!
Going further through concrete examples, Alstom transport, the world leader in transport services, has a Virtual Reality Center close to Paris. In this center, they use the technology for three purposes:
Amongst other benefits, this has allowed the teams to reduce costly last-minute changes and avoid physical mock-ups.
Another notable example of the concrete application of virtual reality in an industrial context has been developed at Volvo Trucks. Their teams have implemented the technology in 2006 and developed since then more than 20 use cases for their VR platform and their Powerwall (to be understood as a high-end 3D visualization wall), such as testing driving posture, visibility, light reflection, reachability and even a set of perceived quality use cases.
You probably identified the following by now: the range of use cases for the industry is broad, as are the ways that virtual reality improves industrial processes. That is the reason why industrials chose for that technology and integrate it in their processes.
A certainty for the future is that industrials will keep improving and updating their processes, with virtual reality or else, in order to stay competitive and increase profitability. A present-day reality is that quite a share of industrials are already using virtual reality for this purpose and even more are adopting it on a regular basis!
Sources: vr-bnb / It3D Summit / IMMERSION / Safran Group