Immersive technologies have the power to unlock gains in design and prototyping

Posted on: 19/12/2019

Immersive technologies open up opportunities for companies in the manufacturing space to help create new types of innovation and products.

From global operations such as Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems to government departments and SMEs, UK companies are using immersive technologies to drive efficiencies, reporting a strong return on investment. In addition, the expansion of enterprise XR is being aided by significant investment from key players in the digital space, such as Facebook and Microsoft. These developments and collaborations are cited as key success drivers by leading UK companies experiencing growth in this space.


From sectors as diverse as aerospace and construction, immersive technologies have the power to unlock gains in design and prototyping; reduce costs and environmentally damaging waste; provide more effective education and training; facilitate remote maintenance and repair; and to make manufacturing processes more efficient.


Professor Rab Scott, Head of Digital at the AMRC said, “Immersive technologies including AR, VR, XR and MR sit on a continuum, from the virtual to the augmented. Virtual Reality (VR) is an excellent medium to design and test new ideas and new products. It can be used within the manufacturing environment effectively for design, planning and training.  In design, manufacturers can test early stage concepts and engage stakeholders at the start of the journey.  It also enables them to fail fast ‘virtually’ without incurring huge expense.


VR is an excellent tool to accelerate the development of things that don’t currently exist and allows manufacturers to derisk the introduction of new products and new ideas into the manufacturing plant. The introduction of VR can also provide a training medium for new products, it eliminates material wastage and if it gamified and scored, it can significantly engage the younger generation who can learn with it and reduce both the risk and environmental impact of the training.


Professor Scott also said “In my opinion, the greatest growth and future impact will be around Augmented Reality (AR). AR will provide manufacturers with the ability to control the data and optimise the use of data, accessing the right type and amount of data at the right time and in the right place. For example using projected AR, the right information can be projected onto the shopfloor to access the relevant information required at that stage in the manufacturing process.


AR is the future. However, the infrastructure needs to catch up. The evolution and adoption of technologies like 5G will help improve that. However, while younger employees see the potential and opportunity of immersive technologies some older members will need some coaching and mentoring to see the opportunities and benefits. There also a needs to be a cultural and mindset shift at senior management level of traditional manufacturing businesses to convince them that VR and AR have a place in the 21st century workplace. ”


Another key driver cited is the support and access offered by UK bodies such as Immerse UK and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVMC), as well as the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC). Teams of experts are supporting a diverse range of sectors in the ecosystem to unlock new productivity strands, reduce costs and upgrade processes for greater efficiencies. Reports show there has been a major uptake of immersive technologies in enterprise in the last three to five years, as improved hardware enters the market.


Immerse UK,powered by KTN, is helping businesses in the immersive tech space to grow, find new connections and discover new markets with their premium membership model.  Find out how to get involved with this exciting network here.

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