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Virtual and Augmented Reality in engineering

The use of cutting-edge technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) allows industrial companies to save time and money. Especially the design of new machines and plants can be significantly accelerated thanks to VR and AR. The training of new employees or staff can also benefit from these two technologies.

The changed competitive situation within Industry 4.0 has an impact on the way machines and plants are designed. Nowadays hardly any industrial company can afford long development times, costly inspections before the final production and time consuming employee trainings. Technologies like Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality help to design faster and more efficiently and to conduct maintenance work quicker. Even employee trainings are more effective.

What is the difference between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality?

Virtual Reality is a virtual, not existent reality. It is generated by computers and only exists in its functionality or appearance. It is about completely immersing in the virtual world and meanwhile not perceiving the actual world around you. Such a virtual world can only be experienced by means of technical tools like VR glasses or a VR room.

In contrast, Augmented Reality is an “extended reality”. Compared to Virtual Reality, the user experiences the actual world and gets additional information through technical tools. The extended reality lies like an additional artificial layer on top of the actual world. The actual world and the virtual world are clearly distinguishable. AR can also be experienced with special glasses but also via smart phone or tablet.

Virtual Reality in practice

Mechanical engineering uses the VR technology to provide 3D models of machines or plants for simulation. At SMS group, the customer can view his machine or plant with VR glasses or on a large screen. The enormous advantage lies within the early integration of the customer in the planning process. Thanks to VR he is able to optimize the simulated plant without interfering with the day-to-day operations. This accelerates the designing of new machines and plants significantly. And the customer can experience a new plant in advance before it is constructed according to his wishes.

Virtually simulated plants or machines are also available for employee trainings. This is especially valuable for trainings on plant and machine maintenance and operation. Thus, it is possible to do trainings even before the actual start of production. Equipped with VR glasses, the employees are not only able to observe the processes in the virtual space of the plant. They can actively engage in it, as all virtual buttons of an automation system or control panel in the spatial simulation can be operated. According to this virtual operation, the mode of operation of the plant changes.

On mySMS group, the open industrial platform for the metal industry, applications for the use of VR are available: CrossConnected e.g. allows you to develop virtual prototypes out of customer 3D-CAD data easily and quickly. This significantly facilitates visualizing and validating mechanical plants and processes.

Augmented Reality in practice

In the field of Augmented Reality, mySMS group members can access the application of HOLOneering. It offers a 3D visualization of simulation results and measuring and design data via AR. This accelerates processes that have hitherto been time and cost consuming, e.g. comparing a flange feed of the simulation and the actual component part before the start of series production. Instead of first transporting the parts to a measuring station and measuring and merging them with numerical data, AR revolutionized this process.
Holograms of the simulation results are directly displayed on the component parts in the machine within seconds and the flange feed can be compared instantly. No other measurement technology is needed. In addition, with the applications HOLOgenerator and HOLOvision, the user can convert simulation results, measurement data and CAD geometries into holograms.

Conclusion

Digital transformation can be handled best if longstanding industry-specific experience is combined with highly modern technologies. That is where the industrial mySMS group platform comes in. It offers all customers of the metal industry an open platform, which provides a specialized industrial App Store with additional services. On mySMS group, industrial companies can find industry-specific apps for intelligent alarm management, AR, VR, interactive shiftboooks, energy-benchmarks or eDoc.

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