The manufacturing industry plays a crucial role in the growth and development of a nation’s economy. It is one of those sectors that sees the majority of innovation and directly influences the productivity of other industries. Hence, it is imperative for the industry leaders to be aware of the technological advancements and also deploy them in their business operations. Here’s where the term Virtual Reality comes into play.

Growth of AR/VR: Facts and figures

Surveys conducted by Statista predict that the global market of reality technologies would close around $300 USD by the end of 2024. The manufacturing sector alone is expected to account for $28 USD by 2025. Furthermore, 45% of the manufacturing companies worldwide believe that AR/VR solutions will soon become the standard in their organisation. Meaning that technology is a lot more than just a buzzword.

While a few organisations have already made the shift, a lot more are still doubting the efficacy of the solution. As advocates of reality technologies, we are here to help you make the right decision. This article will walk you through the ways virtual reality is transforming the manufacturing industry. 

What is Virtual Reality?

Before we talk about the role played by virtual reality in the manufacturing industry, let’s have a quick look at what virtual reality is. 

By definition, VR or virtual reality is an advanced technology that simulates a real-time environment to offer an immersive user experience. Unlike traditional modes of interaction where the user sees the screen, virtual reality places them in the environment inside the screen. This artificially created environment offers a real-time view of the actual site. It has sensors installed to track the movement, enabling the user to engage and interact with the elements in real-time. 

The technology has been in the industry for more than a decade with its major application being in the gaming industry. With time, industry leaders have recognized the potential of the technology and adopted multiple VR-specific solutions in their business operations. This has helped them refine their processes while improving the productivity of the enterprise as a whole. Like others, the manufacturing industry too has deployed VR solutions and witnessed great results. While there are multiple use cases, we here highlight the most influential ones with respect to the manufacturing sector. 

3 ways VR is disrupting the manufacturing industry

  1. Workforce Safety

Accidents and injuries are common in the manufacturing industry. Every year, 1000s of workmen lose their lives while working onsite. Contact with objects, slips, fire and explosions are deemed as the leading cause of death in the industry. Even though organisations have managed to reduce the number of fatalities in the sector, there still lies room for improvement. 

VR in safety training directly addresses the limitations posed by traditional safety training. Considering that VR applications can simulate the entire manufacturing process (depending on the need),  workers can be trained to deal with situations better. In fact, learning and development managers can have a custom-built environment to train and guide the workers before they step foot in the actual job environment. This helps them experience the job, identify potential hazards, and handle them proactively, thereby improving job performance and reducing accidents. 

  1. Operational Training

Workforce training is one of the most debatable topics in the manufacturing industry. It is no surprise that the sector is dealing with a skill gap having more than a million job vacancies. Researches suggest that the training given to the students isn’t as per the industry standards. 

Conventional modes of training are no longer effective and need to be replaced by virtual learning. With VR training simulators, industry leaders can now level up the quality of training imparted to students. VR headsets and dedicated applications immerse the students in the job environment giving them true-to-life learning experiences. A higher level of engagement and greater interaction enables the students to learn better, increasing proficiency and reducing the possibility of errors. Unlike traditional methods of training, VR for operational training is proven to transform the performance at the job, accelerating production and growth of the industry. 

  1. Digital Twin

If there’s anything that the pandemic taught us, it would be networking remotely. Staying miles away from each other, we all found a way to stay connected on a day to day basis. And now this can be extended to everyone’s advantage in the business world. Where AR applications enabled frontline workers to remotely connect and communicate with their peers at a distant location, VR solutions are more mainstream and with extended flexibility.

Yes, we are talking about Digital Twin. A revolutionary innovation, Digital Twin is creating the digital schema of your real world. Initially proposed by Michael Grieves in the University of Michigan, digital twins will bring a change in production and management at manufacturing enterprises. Like prototyping in the software industry, the digital twin would be the digital expression of the physical process. 

From your entire team having a meeting in a shared virtual space in the form of avatars to having a digital replica of the manufacturing process (one that will allow you to test and validate changes digitally before deploying it in real-time), the concept of digital twin will help anticipate errors, find a fix and then implement to avoid any unnecessary damage. All being said, this is just the beginning and the concept is yet to find its place in every manufacturing plant. 

Conclusion: A step towards digital maturity

With that being said, it is evident that virtual reality as a technology holds tremendous potential to disrupt the manufacturing industry. Industry leaders are actively working to deploy VR-based applications in their line of business staying at the forefront of innovation. In case you want to know more about how VR can shape the future of your business, we are here happy to assist you to understand and exploring ways to deploy VR solutions in your business. 

Leave a Comment