Aug. 05, 2021

Industry 4.0: the design you expect, thanks to virtual reality

  • Article
  • Industry 4.0
  • virtual reality
  • VR
  • optimization

In the wake of Industry 4.0, businesses intending to build new facilities also want to maximize the return on their investment. In this respect, the building blocks involved must be factored into the design phase, way before the building phase.

  1. That’s when the following questions come up:

    • How does one maximize the effectiveness of a design while at the same time reducing building costs?
    • Can we improve equipment access for maintenance activities?
    • How can we optimize processes and procedures?

    Although a paper plan and a 3D representation on screen can yield some of the answers to these questions, a virtual reality (VR) plan is the ideal tool to increase the reliability and profitability of your design, all at lower cost.

    What is VR?

    This leading-edge technology enables users to immerse themselves in a virtual environment with limitless interaction. This immersion is the key feature of VR. Recent innovations have paved the way for high-resolution headsets, for example. The graphic quality provided by these new headsets is so impressive that users are literally transported into the VR models and facilities.

    The immersive experience opens the door to a multitude of applications, notably design reviews, highly realistic health and safety training or hands-on training in a model plant faithfully reproduced via 3D scanning. Continue reading to learn how to use VR to rally your troops.

    An innovative solution for design

    The implementation of new technologies presents a daunting challenge for some plants. However, with the appropriate expertise, it’s possible to 3D-scan an entire plant, or make use of existing models (Navisworks, Revit, etc.) imported into VR.

    Better constructability

    Making use of the faithful quality and the one-for-one representation of the simulation, conversion into VR can be used to easily validate a project’s feasibility, to determine ahead of time where space restrictions may come up, to pick up high-detail design errors before construction or to provide an exact view of the plant once built. Unlike paper plans or models on a conventional screen, VR projects the user into a context where targeting problems is as easy as if you were there in person. For example, during a VR design review, one of our clients discovered that part of the ventilation design was blocking the space for sprinkler system piping, which led to considerable cost savings during construction. The cost savings and reliability VR reviews provide can therefore be applied to other projects and further digital transformation.

    Improving health and safety

    Serious accidents remain an unfortunate fact of life in industry. Using VR, planners can quickly and effectively determine possible safety issues. For example, VR simulation could be used to determine the distance between hazardous machinery and emergency aid equipment, as well as ascertain the presence—or absence—of overhead safety guardrails.

    Immediate returns on investment

    VR simulation is a handy, scalable solution. Each project undertaken, regardless of its scope, is custom-designed to exact specifications. Properly conducted design reviews provide instant added value. Any defect detected in the model at the design stage translates into considerable savings in time and money at the building stage.

    Scanning a work environment

    Having a scanned work environment, i.e., the equivalent of a digitized “twin,” provides added value not only from the very beginning of the design stage but also throughout operations in the longer term. Some possible applications include remote plant tours, localization training for new employees, health and safety training and planning for additional equipment or replacements.

  2. In conclusion

    The pros and cons of adopting advanced technology are critical to consider when building new facilities, including the consequences of the status quo. Given the added value of VR, we can expect it to quickly become an industry standard.

This content is for general information purposes only. All rights reserved ©BBA

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