Have you ever thought that Virtual Reality can be successfully applied in big systems such as smart factories of the future (FoF)?

Since there are 31 million of persons in the EU employed in manufacturing and 80% of the EU’s exports are manufactured products, the sets of initiatives to create smart factories and infrastructure emerged.

Thus, within Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, the new contractual Public-Private Partnership (PPP) on Factories of the Future (FoF) was created for framework 2014-2020 followin successes of the FP7 Factories of the Future PPP. Certainly, Factories of the Future are the trend that goes beyond European continent and should be considered on all meridians.

Our company saw this phenomenon first-hand since it has developed solutions for clients that wanted to use VR with two purposes: to stimulate training of their workforce who would be capable of maintaining factories of the 21st century and to streamline factory processes. As a result, the number of errors in the daily operations will decrease, which will directly affect the productivity, quality assurance and the bottom line of the factory.

This example of developing VR content for smart factories turned out to be an excellent example for both the client (the factory of the future) and developer side (ARVRtech) in figuring out which metrics to measure (the ones of engineering excellence) while creating interactive, effective and educational Virtual Reality content.  

Hence, by incorporating user interaction with the environment and content thanks to VR technology, the factory managed to achieve three goals in this particular scenario: to train more people within the short period of time in a cost-effective and interactive way; to enable people to learn about their workplace environment and machines without jeopardizing their life and safety as well as to help those very workers master using expensive machines before they try them out directly.

For the purposes of the client, we created three types of content: interactive 360 photo viewed with VR head mounted display, interactive 360 video viewed with VR head mounted display, and VR factory model which are all available on company’s YouTube channel. As mentioned earlier, all of these kinds of content were made with the purpose of training and maintenance.  

The first type of content: the interractive 360 photo viewed with VR head mounted display guides people through different scenarios on the factory floor. Users could choose from two options: maintenance and training.

This use case is just an example what kinds of solutions can be created for smart factories. For instance, a user clicks on an information point that ‘‘hangs’’ in the factory on a blue flag with a white ‘‘i’’ when he opts for a maintenance part. Then, an array of short lessons open up such as: check quality of steel, replace bearings, check the overall status of the production hall, change the steel thickness.

Also, when the situation such as check the quality of steel is showed, the visitor sees several steps on the interface: use induction probe to test thickness, check the steel colour, etc. The user-friendly display of the information in a factory setting helps users to learn about procedures step-by-step and once they choose training options, plenty of questions open up in front of them. This time the visitor selects questions from white question marks on blue background scattered throughout the factory. In case the learner answers correctly, the solution is marked in green and for wrong answers, red colour is used.

VR factory model is very realistic and it helps visitors understand how different production lines inside factories are interconnected and which glitches in day-to-day operations should be avoided at all costs. Imagine how prepared and proud of themselves workers will feel, as they enter factories with this extra knowledge and are ready to contribute because they know what exactly is expected from them. 

For all the reasons aforementioned, bringing to life smart factories with the help of Virtual Reality has become not only effortless, but also a prerequisite for all companies that care about their productivity, excellence with minimum of errors, profit, well-being and satisfaction of workers as well as expansion.