VR, IoT, and Manufacturing

Steve Bambury recently posted about virtual reality and the Internet of Things. He wrote about how they can work together in education to improve upon those processes. To me, VR and IoT always made the most sense for manufacturing. Manufacturing is the great melding of people who build with their hands and the latest technology.

I see virtual reality and IoT working together because both connect people to technology. As Bambury puts it, “the Internet of Things is about connected digital things to the real world and of course, a VR headset is just another one of those Things.”

Image via digitaleng.news

Let’s see how virtual reality and IoT can come together to alleviate pressures on the plant.

Test new assembly configurations and update them in real time. Engineers can use virtual reality to configure and test different assembly line configurations before tearing apart the actual line, interrupting production.

Send product quality issues to the 3D models in VR.  Visa Versa, if a product or part is created in a CAD program, then data on that part can be updated from the plant floor with IoT. Engineers can investigate issues and compare solutions virtually to see how to proceed next, potentially saving resources and materials.

Use VR and predictive maintenance through IoT to see into the future how the line will be running a week, month, or year from now. With the Internet of Things, plants now have access to predictive maintenance. Sensors on components alert the maintenance team when the parts are starting to fail. This, combined with a virtual representation of the plant floor gives the maintenance team a look into the plant’s future on a large scale. The virtual plant floor can depict through time which components and machines will fail or be up for scheduled maintenance based on the connected devices on the actual plant floor.

Let management and business users “see into the plants” virtually to help give them an understanding of real-time operations. I talked before about VR mining software that let management walk in a mine site to see what the miners on the ground were dealing with. This helped make the actual mining process less abstract to the business. The same can be done for manufacturing facilities.

Instead of the plant working like a single entity, executives can use virtual reality, combined with IoT, to virtually walk the lines of manufacturing facilities in real time, thus being more connected with the day-to-day realities of building the products which their companies are based. This has the added benefit of bringing plants back in line with company goals.

Conclusion

Using tools like virtual reality along with the Internet of Things can help people come together for the good of the plant. However, they have to be used correctly by both corporate and plant personnel to solve actual solutions. The goal is to implement technology to create more efficiency, not more work.