How are large manufacturing companies leveraging immersive simulations, e.g. Virtual Reality, Mixed Reality, Augmented Reality ?
Hi and thanks for asking about manufacturing companies that are beginning to make use of immersive simulations such as Virtual Reality! The two most useful sources that I found on this topic are Automation World and East West Manufacturing. In short, Entergy Corp, Nexen, and several other manufacturing companies are primarily using virtual reality simulations and mixed reality headsets in order to help with planning projects and also as a training aid, and the platforms for these technologies are built using outside companies. Below is a deep dive of my findings.
In my research, I primarily looked for information through corporate websites and industry reports. Because you stated that you are in the oil and gas industry, I began my search with manufacturing companies in that sector. This produced several companies that are using these immersive simulation technologies to promote growth. I then expanded the search to include organizations in other industries. As you also mentioned two new technologies in particular, Hololens and Daqri, I looked for companies that are utilizing them. However, due to the newness of Hololens and Daqri, there is limited information available on their use currently, but I was able to identify a few companies that are implementing these technologies.
TRAINING AND INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY
To start, simulation training, such as that done by Canadian-based energy company Nexen, "is quickly becoming an important tool in workforce development, especially in high-risk continuous process environments like oil and gas, chemical, energy and mining industries." This article found that it improves employee understanding and retention of correct procedures. This improved training technique has a result that benefits the customer as well: better products are produced.
Along with internal training, manufacturers are introducing immersive technology as a way of planning projects better and saving money. Virtual or Augmented Reality products allow for better predictive analytics, which allow designers to spot flaws in the simulated product much faster than the weeks it would take running calculations and building models. Shutdowns in the oil and gas industry can cost as much as $5 million a day. Companies such as Entergy Corp. estimate savings up to $1 million a day, Hydro-Quebec estimates that it saved 200 weeks of work in planning and building a new plant, and Yantai Raffles Shipyard increased its design productivity by 30% by using simulation technology.
In the future, products such as the Hololens are expected to facilitate collaboration on products and development. Finally, these immersive technologies are also useful for integrating the next generation into the workforce as quickly and seamlessly as possible. Because immersive technology is on a platform that the Millennials are comfortable with (video games), it appeals to them and even boosts learning retention. Simulation allows trainees to practice by seeing and doing, and drives retention from 5-20%, up to 75%. It has proven to be an incredibly useful tool for driving up proficiency in the workforce.
COMPANIES USING IMMERSIVE SIMULATIONS
Several oil and gas companies use virtual reality simulations to promote growth and save money. For example, Entergy Corp., Hydro-Quebec, and Yantai Raffles Shipyard all use technologies that unify virtual reality, simulation, and capital management that is sourced from Dassault Systemes. Nexen, an energy company, uses operator training simulators (OTS) to better their workforce performances. This OTS, SimSci Dynsim, involves "simulation software and immersive technology," which employ VR goggles and handheld controllers, and iwa developed by Schneider Electric. In addition, manufacturing companies are making use of augmented reality in the form of wearable tech, such as "smart" glasses and watches. In particular, Skylight, a software being utilized by manufacturing technicians, was developed by APX Labs, originally for the military with "smart" helmets.
Another organization that has implemented Virtual and Augmented Reality technology, Raytheon, has had Immersive Design Centers built in their Arizona and Massachusetts locations. These centers have "CAVE Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE) technology." CAVE is a large-scale environment which allows users to show three- or two-dimensional immersive content (or both), and use head-mounted displays, along with motion-capture suits. Both CAVEs were built and installed by an outside supplier, Mechdyne Corporation.
Some companies use somewhat simpler immersive technologies. For example, Ford has used the Oculus Rift headset to great success in reducing employee injuries (by 70%). The VR headset also allows Ford greater ease in speedily spotting potential design and product flaws.
Finally, for those immersive technologies that are just being introduced, such as the Hololens, there are just a few companies that have begun utilizing them. Volvo, for example, uses Hololens for employee training and to improve customer understanding of modifications. So far, the only eight companies that have done case studies with the Hololens are Japan Airlines, NASA, Volvo, Trimble, Case Western University, Autodesk, PGA Tour, and Legendary Entertainment. While the Daqri Augmented Reality helmet is still relying on venture capital investments, companies such as KSP Steel of Kazakhstan are using it to visualize resource metrics. The technology has also been installed in 200,000 Jaguar Land Rover cars.
As you can see, there are several manufacturing companies that are making use of immersive technology. Those such as Ford use Virtual Reality to train and reduce employee injuries, while those in the oil and gas industry find the technology highly helpful in planning, and thus reducing time and money spent on projects. In addition, these immersive technologies are sourced from outside companies, such as the CAVE environment used by Raytheon.
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