With many of us now working remotely, or having a hybrid arrangement, getting everyone together in the same physical space at the same time is becoming increasingly a challenge and a thing of the past. And while remote working has its own set of benefits, it can also take away certain aspects of activities that are best experienced in person and as a team.
Platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Meet etc might make conducting meetings with globally dispersed colleagues easier, but how can you properly interact with something that needs to be seen in 3D or at full scale, from behind your laptop?
Extended Reality (XR) technologies, such as Virtual Reality (VR) are proving to be a valuable solution to the problem of remote collaboration and are being adopted by engineering and manufacturing organisations who are trying to solve some of the challenges that come with having globally located teams.
Immersive visualisation technology like Virtual Reality enables users to view data (such as CAD, BIM, PLM, point cloud and more) at full scale and in a virtual representation of its real-life environment. Users can interrogate and manipulate the data, walk around it and inside it and review it all virtually by using CAVE’s, Powerwalls or HMD headsets.
Team collaboration from anywhere
Within engineering and manufacturing organisations, the design and manufacturing process of a single product will go through multiple iterations before the finished object rolls off a production line.
Product design reviews are often held at frequent points along the product development lifecycle. Physical prototypes or scale models are usually produced at each stage, reviewed, changes made and then signed off before moving to the next stage. If a model needs to be produced at each iteration, and numerous teams need to gather in the same place to review, the time and monetary costs incurred start to build up. Indeed, a similar scenario can be encountered during an organisation’s factory layout planning (or site layout planning) phase, where a new facility is being planned or an existing facility is being adapted to suit a new production requirement.
By bringing engineers together to remotely collaborate in VR, everybody is looking at the same model. The whole team can identify a mistake or an issue. Annotations, comments, and additional information can be made live during the session and then saved for later.
By using VR collaboration tools, the communication barriers, as well as the geographical ones, are broken down. Teamwork is enhanced by gathering people around a virtual model or immersing them in it. Collaborating in VR doesn’t have to be limited to internal teams either. With a device and access to a session, the whole supply chain can be involved if necessary. And it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you can quickly join a collaborative VR session, solve a problem and get on with the job.
Save time, money, and the planet
Using a VR collaboration platform has potentially huge cost and time benefits for organisations. By almost eliminating the need to make physical prototypes, especially in the initial stages, organisations are making savings on the time, costs and waste product associated with their production. Hosting virtual sessions also cuts down the need for teams to be present at the same site, reducing travel costs, and the impact on the environment.