Case study

Optimising a surgical room layout with virtual reality


Many of our customers use Visionary Render to plan manufacturing facilities. The ability to import whole assemble lines, modify and view in Virtual Reality (VR) have helped companies plan new or upgraded facilities.

Many of our customers use Visionary Render to plan manufacturing facilities. The ability to import whole assemble lines, modify and view in Virtual Reality (VR) have helped companies plan new or upgraded facilities. For example, see this case study from Siemens Congleton.

Typically, these environments are “traditional” manufacturing lines with large scale industrial machinery, robotics and component parts interacting together on the assembly line.

Planning a different type of assembly line

The line assembly crew might be Surgeons and Anesthesiologists, the part being worked on might be a person, the robotic equipment might be a MRI scanner but how do you use the same VR technology to help layout out and review a highly complex, medical operating theatre?

Many of the same challenges exist –

  • What is the optimum placement of equipment to ensure an efficient use of the space?
  • How do you ensure a safe working environment with uninterrupted sight lines to important display equipment?
  • How do you reconfigure that space quickly to meet different scenarios?
  • What about the Human Interface– where should people stand and do they have access to the equipment they need?

The problem

Our customer (a leading medical equipment supplier) had a problem of communicating design intent and layout of surgical rooms to their end customer. These surgical rooms are highly complex with many configurations of equipment to support different medical procedures, different combinations of medical teams and personal preference on placement.

The existing process was to use an image of a 2D architectural plan of the proposed room overlaid with symbols for each of the pieces of equipment. These plans and symbols were manipulated – in Powerpoint – to show the room layout for each of several scenarios.

The customer was then expected to sign this off and place a multi-million-dollar order.

This often led to misunderstandings, lack of clarity and expensive rework and adjustments.

The solution

Based on our experience with delivering layout planning solutions relying on out of the box capabilities of Visionary Render such as such as clash detection, animation, 3D measurement, we knew Visionary Render would be a great tool to support both the initial planning and the final customer presentation.

The developed solution based on Visionary Render incorporated animated and controllable highly complex medical equipment with their exact range of movements and control points. This allowed the clinical design team to check operating procedures in any combination.

Another key feature the clinical design team used was the ability to quickly set up a new room layout and save it as a pre-set. A prebuilt library of components was built which could be dragged and dropped into the 3D shell of the room. This allowed the sales team to quickly iterate between proposed solutions and layouts.

Additionally, the sales teams were able to further increase the impact of their discussions with hospital teams by:

  • Sharing visuals and videos produced from within Visionary Render to leave behind with the prospect
  • Using immersive headsets so surgeons and anesthesiologists could experience the room at a 1-1 scale checking sight lines and accessibility
  • A transportable large screen VR system – called an ActiveMove was set up at hospitals to walk the hospital teams through the layouts.

The process

  1. Discovery Workshop: In a discovery workshop lead by one of our UX experts we helped identify the business issues and challenges. As part of this workshop we identified the as is process, the ideal to be scenario and were able to quickly mock up a wireframe solution.
  2. Agile Development: Working closely with our Professional Services team the client was able to quickly build out the solution, having a first prospect meeting within days.
  3. Initial project support: During the initial phases of the project our Professional Services team worked closely with the client, supporting the preparation, and also during and post their meetings and presentations to the end Hospital clients.
  4. Online working sessions: A key part of the process involved joint working sessions between various parties.
  5. Customer presentation: The finalised design layouts were presented to the Hospital teams using a combination of high quality visualisations, immersive VR headsets and large screen projection for multi person interaction.

The benefits

A number of benefits were identified during the project:

  • Internal buy-in: Clearer understanding internally of the proposed solution to client
  • Client buy-in: Greater customer confidence in proposed solution and supplier in general
  • Higher quality discussions leading to a more engaged end customer
  • Higher value sell with a quicker sales cycle
  • Fewer problems during construction and installation
  • Reduction in costly adjustments at sign-off
  • Ability to continue discussions when onsite meetings unable to progress due to distancing rules.

Next steps

The developed solution could be made available on Virtalis Reach so the surgical room layout can be made available to a wider range of Doctors, Surgeons, Hospital Administrators and decision makers via the web and using the latest visualisation technology.


The visualisation tools provided by Virtalis  helped planning, design and communication of highly complex surgical room layouts reducing the sales cycle and project risks.

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